By : Forum Member
Published 16th May 2014 |
Read latest comment - 16th May 2014

Will this EU ruling make even more of a mockery of online reviews? EU Ruling It seems to me that unless a business has glowing reviews then they can just ask Google to remove any bad ones, which will make the whole point about reviews absolutely pointless...

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It's an interesting one, I'm blowing hot and cold on it.

There's loads of hype at the moment, and with the media, they will always seize on extreme examples as it makes good copy.

But in reality I don't think that much will change. The rulings may be legal, but its impractical and hard to see how it can be enforced. Submit a request now, and it will probably get processed in about 18 months 

There always was a mechanism to get reviews removed off Google, and it's called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Most people aren't aware of it, but it does work, and I've been ordered to remove content from our directory after a business owner filed a petition with Google. I disagreed and still believe the business in question is rogue, but they had very good reputation damage limitation lawyers. But I've also seen the DMCA being used fairly  to help remove unfair abuse.

I think this new legislation will impact the DMCA and prob slow things down (even more).

But online reviews have changed a lot in recent years. Joe public aren't stupid and gamed reviews are obvious. A decent review site won't take down reviews just because a business owner doesn't like them.

We designed ours in partnership with the Trading Standards Institute trying to create the fairest system, because reviews are gamed in both directions. Abuse from competitors or someone with an axe to grind, versus amateur marketers who list multiple reviews from the same IP address, all self promotional and rubbish. We delete literally hundreds of rubbish reviews weekly, and that's the stuff that gets through our filters.

We believe a negative review is a show of poor service,and 9 times out of 10, the reviewer wants the problem resolved, and the business wants a chance to deal with it. We always notify a business and give them the option of how to proceed. They can reply publicly, ignore, or dispute. If both parties agree a way forward, then the problem is resolved. When it gets interesting is when a business disputes a review, in which case it's a judgement call on the facts we have as to whether it goes live. Or a lot of businesses just put their hand up, and reply publicly "we got it wrong".

This can be an effective sales tool, as it shows compassion, especially if the customer is given a discount or incentive for the future. Plus having a negative review amongst many good ones makes you look more genuine to a lot of people.

But I get angry about sloppy review sites. Some sites have zero moderation allowing people to post any kind of rubbish. Trip Advisor famously had to sort it's act out a few years ago, and even Facebook until last week allowed anonymous reviews!

So is it fair for a business to be tarred with unwarranted negativity that damages/destroys it's reputation, which is displayed in Googles index, and have no option of removing it?

It's a tough one, especially when it comes to online data. It's very hard to build a one hat fits all solution.

I've said for years and tried preaching to younger family members that the effing and jeffing style childish rants that a lot of youngsters do on social media sites and blogs will haunt them in years to come, including job prospects.

Is it fair for them to have no means to remove a daft mistake? We've all said daft things and upset people after a beer, but to have it immortalised digitally, and be reminded of it must be hard.

Sorry for war in peace, bit of a pet subject obviously  

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn

I recently posted a review with Trustpilot, I had an horrendous time having materials delivered from a national well known company. basically i waited over a month for the boilers to arrive. I could have got them albeit a bit more expensive from the same merchant in the local branch. Three different delivery dates were given, even though on their site it states delivery would be within 3 days, they also stated this both verbally over the phone and in a written email. When I put this information on the review the company complained and the review was withdrawn... so what is the point?


When I put this information on the review the company complained and the review was withdrawn... so what is the point?”

This is the problem, with the best will in the world the system is flawed. If you have deep enough pockets and good legal advice, you can get reviews removed.

We have had quite a few legal tussles over the years, and the reality is the decision ends up as do we take down a negative review, as ordered to by a legal representative, or do we go toe to toe in court with the associated costs?

I can't speak for Trust Pilot, but we are not going to take each case through the courts. Not as a small business.

But I do get the satisfaction that the business has had to shell out for legal time, as that is the only way we will take a review down if someone starts shouting the odds. We normally get a set time to take down before court proceedings are started, leave it to the last minute then take it down.

But this is rare compared to the majority of negative reviews we get, and I suspect most major review sites are the same.

Here's a large site that regularly generates reviews, currently has 495, but has a good smattering of negative ones. Box Ltd Reviews You can select to see reviews by recent, best, worst etc.

There's plenty more examples, and reading these gives you a good idea of the particular business, and other peoples impressions, and it's obvious they are genuine.

So you can pay to have stuff removed if you have deep pockets, I think it's wrong, but there does needs to be some kind of mechanism to remove content. It's clear though there is no robust and obvious solution to cater for all circumstances.

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn

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