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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Wow. Just came across kinda of a big case posted on Time Inc that proves fake reviews don't pay. AND working with a reputation management company that employs shady tactics can trigger a law suit.

    Glowing Reviews Sued by Edmunds.com, Alleged to Plant Fake Reviews | TIME.com

    Edmunds.com, the automotive research company, filed a lawsuit in Texas on Tuesday against Humankind, an online reputation company based in Friendswood, Tex. According to Edmunds, Humankind operates sites such as GlowingReviews.co, an “automated online ratings & reviews” service that charges $25 and up per month to post reviews at a long list of what it calls “supported sites,” including Yelp, Google+, FourSquare, CitySearch, Cars.com, and of course, Edmunds.com. Edmunds is seeking an injunction against Humankind after discovering that over the last few months the company had allegedly created more than 2,000 registrations and attempted to post dozens of bogus reviews for 25 car dealerships at Edmunds.com, violating the site’s terms of service.

    As efforts to plant fake reviews and manipulate ratings have proliferated, so have systems aimed at filtering out dubious opinions on user review sites—whose business model is based on the trustworthiness of reviews. Something of a cat-and-mouse game has developed. Last summer, Google+ Local deleted hundreds of car dealership reviews after finding them suspect, and earlier this year it warned hotels that “fake glowing testimonies” posted by reputation management operations would be removed.

    Read more: Glowing Reviews Sued by Edmunds.com, Alleged to Plant Fake Reviews | TIME.com
    If you work in the review space at all or advise clients about reviews, you should read this. There are lots of good stats and a good overall picture of how some of these reputation management rackets run. In the case of the one above, they admitted straight up in their own FAQ they were violating the TOS of many review sites.

    If you are a business owner desperate for more reviews then you REALLY need to read this. You've heard the saying "There is no shortcut to success"? Same holds true for getting HONEST reviews.

    (Note to mods - posting here as new news story, then will remove to the Review Forum later.)
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  2. #2
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Sock it to 'em, Edmunds. Score 1 for the good guys. (I know they haven't won yet, but exposure is anathema to these shady "reputation-management" companies.)

  3. #3
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Linda, Phil -- this is an eye-opening and important story. Thank you!


    It reminds me of something Mike Blumenthal said during the recent InsideLocal State of Local Search webinar you guys held: Marketers and business owners who count reviews as a measure of success are using an "ass-backwards" metric. "The right metric," he said, "is customer satisfaction."


    Turning customer reviews into a powerful and addressable marketing channel that doesn't lead to banning, public shaming and PR catastrophe means doing it the right way. Of course, we know that you CAN create a virtuous circle of customer satisfaction and customer reviews, and THAT is solid gold.


    I've found that marketers, broadly speaking, get it. Many business owners, on the other hand, still need to be educated. They need to see stories like this. Until they understand the stakes, it's hard for folks like us to compete with the instant gratification of fraud!

  4. #4
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Well said Jon! Thanks for joining us and weighing in!
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    In 2012 I warned a lot of people that this particular service was bad news and I got bashed for it in some circles. Now I'm experiencing the euphoria of vindication!

    This isn't play time kiddies and online reviews is a matter to take very seriously.

    If the FTC gets involved on this case there could be a whole mess of agencies getting in trouble as well. They'll obviously petition a Judge to issue a subpoena for glowing reviews' user database. Then every marketer who paid and used that service is legally exposed, and the next in line for legal responsibility is their clients.

    How should I say it? Legal daisy chain?

  6. #6
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Aw yes, a blast from the post for me! Back in January 2012 I wrote a blog post discussing the risks of buying reviews. It received a lot of play in the Automotive blogs. It still ranks #3 in Google for "Buying Reviews"

    As a player in the Auto Industry, I highlighted my findings using car dealers. The post talked about Google Places, and since Google has made it harder (it is still a problem) to post fake reviews it seems these scam artists have targeted other review sites.

    Edmunds has done a service to the public by exposing these scam artists, but let's not forget the numerous car dealers paying them to bury bad reviews with good ones. To some, it is easier to buy fake reviews then to fix the culture at the dealership.

    I did some digging and found that there is still quite a bit of suspicious activity on Google Plus Local. When a car dealer engaging in review buying gets a negative review, it suddenly gets buried by 5 good ones. The G+ accounts leaving the reviews are very vague and only have one review. HMMM? (May be time for a follow up blog post)

    It is a shame that many businesses mistake Reputation Management as a review service. Reputation management begins at your business with every interaction you have with consumers. Business owners should focus on overcoming negative reviews by engaging and rectifying the situation, versus burying it with 5 phony reviews.

    A hotel or Restaurant buying reviews and you believing them, can result in you getting a lousy room or a lousy meal. Oh well!

    But in the car industry, Plastic surgery, fertility clinics, (places where fake reviews have been uncovered) it can cost you thousands of dollars, as well as have a long term detrimental effect on your life.

    I hope to see more lawsuits going forward. The credibility of reviews is at stake. As the saying goes Caveat Emptor!
    Local Internet Marketing Goldmine <-- Helping Small Business owners attract more customers!

  7. #7
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much dishonesty and deceit still exists in this world of SEO. If you can become a company that people trust, you will by far separate yourself from the rest. Glad to see that this fake review company got busted. Now if someone could only do something about this fake Google Maps company that keeps calling us.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

  8. #8
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    I'm with you on the trust thing man! I'm about to out a local seo company here where I live for selling back linking packages to 6 businesses all in the same space and all of them of course are promised top google rankings.

  9. #9
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Another scammy review practice = hit my local news station last night.

    "We will take care of that nasty problem you had with our service if you promise not to leave us a bad review." Plus other bad review practices.

    How Businesses Angle for Good Online Reviews | NBC 7 San Diego

    Shoot, embed code didn't work so you need to go watch video there.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  10. #10
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    Re: Reputation Management Company SUED for Fake Reviews by Edmunds.com - Time Inc.

    Page removed Linda

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