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Beware Of Review Services

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday September 27, 2011 )

I received an email recently from a company offering to post positive reviews of my sites and products. I’m sure many other folks are getting these too.

I wrote about fake review services in July, but it’s worth mentioning again as the practice appears to be on the increase.

The services in question promise to give your company a positive image with a continual stream of “quality reviews” posted basically wherever they can sling them. It’s spam, but so much more than that.

The cost in this case was $20 bucks for ten. It may seem cheap but it could cost you thousands or even your business.

In the USA and Australia (and likely quite a few other countries), the posting of fake customer reviews, or hiring a company to do it for you is illegal. It’s a violation of truth in advertising regulations.

The companies offering these services are usually based in countries where the law doesn’t forbid it or turns a blind eye to the practice. While they are pretty much untouchable, you aren’t.

Fake reviews are not just slap-on-the-wrist illegal, but massive-fine illegal.

A U.S. company busted for engaging in this practice a few years back copped a $300,000 fine – and a bunch of press about their activities that would have resulted in further loss of business.

The types of reviews these 20-bucks-for-10 mobs crank out are usually done by people with English as a second language and can be spotted from a mile away; further increasing the risk of you being caught out. Even people from within your own staff posting reviews will tend to leave hints as to their origin.

Posting a glowing testimonial here and there might seem like low hanging fruit, but its a forbidden fruit and should not be touched – ever. It’s important that you also tell your staff not to post fake reviews as some may do so on their own initiative thinking it a good thing to do for your company.

Bear in mind also that just because a competitor posts fake reviews around the place, it doesn’t make it any less illegal or provide excuse for you to fight fire with fire. If you see competitors doing it, dob them in to the FTC (USA) or ACCC (Australia) instead – it could be a very good way to clear the decks in your sector and you’ll likely be doing consumers a favor too.


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