Online review organisation Trustpilot has issued an open letter regarding its Purplebricks reviews.
In it, the review company - which is often cited by the hyrbid agency in its publicity material as evidence of its popularity with sellers - defends the ‘open to all’ principle behind its policies.
“Our guidelines apply equally to all businesses, regardless of whether they use our platform for free or purchase additional services from us” says the letter, which has been passed to Estate Agent Today by Trustpilot.
With regard to Purplebricks, the letter says that no company can ever pay to have reviews removed. “Our guidelines are clear that incentivising customers to leave positive reviews is strictly forbidden. This applies equally to all companies whether they use our free or paid service and this includes Purplebricks” the letter says.
“Equally, we take inauthentic and/or ‘fake’ reviews from those who have not had a genuine purchase or service experience very seriously. In addition to the manual investigations described above we employ sophisticated software to flag up fake or non-compliant reviews.”
The industry has been rife with allegations concerning the validity of reviews of Purplebricks by customers, with individual agents and trade bodies such as the fledgling Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents complaining about how representative and accurate the reviews have been.
The Trustpilot open letter is set out in full below:
At Trustpilot, our purpose is to make the Internet economy more transparent by helping consumers make better purchasing decisions and businesses to improve their service. It’s a purpose that we care deeply about and underpins all that we do.
Our online review platform is built with this purpose in mind. Any consumer can review any business they’ve had an experience with. Any business can invite their customers to review them. And every business with reviews has a public profile page open for all to see.
This ‘open to all’ principle ensures that the reviews on our platform represent valuable, transparent and inclusive consumer feedback.
While there are other review systems that allow pre-moderation, editing or removal of consumer reviews prior to publication, this is something we would never do.
Why? Because consumers want to see all genuine reviews to make the best purchasing decision.
To ensure that the ‘open to all’ principle is not abused to the detriment of any party we have clear User and Company Guidelines. They exist to explain the rules that all parties must adhere to and the actions we will take if the guidelines are not met. Our guidelines apply equally to all businesses, regardless of whether they use our platform for free or purchase additional services from us.
Our Compliance function is a team of over 40 highly trained, multinational professionals who work exclusively to ensure compliance with our guidelines. They use a combination of algorithmic techniques and human intervention to investigate any reported or flagged reviews, ensuring compliance with our guidelines.
It’s with these principles in mind that we’d like to publicly address points that have been raised about Purplebricks, a high-profile Trustpilot customer in the UK. A small handful of individuals have raised repeated questions and voiced accusations (on our Twitter and other social channels) regarding Purplebricks and their use of Trustpilot specifically.
We take all such points very seriously. We have thus conducted investigations of Purplebricks’ usage of our platform and responded regularly and publicly on social media (particularly Twitter) to the various points raised.
As the frequency and volume of the same or similar questions from these few individuals has not subsided, we feel it is important to share the facts via this open letter. They are:
- Our investigations of Purplebricks haven’t identified any behaviour that contravenes our guidelines.
- Any company can report a review that it believes has not originated from someone with a genuine service or buying experience, or is otherwise not compliant with Trustpilot user guidelines (for example, if it includes libelous or offensive language).
- Similarly, consumers can notify Trustpilot of reviews they believe fall outside our guidelines.
When reviews are reported by companies they are temporarily taken offline and investigated carefully. When those reviews are found to be authentic and compliant they are reinstated. Reviews only remain offline when the consumer does not provide the further information requested after a week.
Should a consumer’s review not meet our guidelines then they have the opportunity to edit their review to ensure compliance (for example, by removing foul language).
Purplebricks report reviews with a view to identifying a reviewer who is not a known customer. To date, they have reported more 4 and 5 star reviews than 1 star.
No company can ever pay to have reviews removed and our guidelines are clear that incentivising customers to leave positive reviews is strictly forbidden. This applies equally to all companies whether they use our free or paid service and this includes Purplebricks.
Equally, we take inauthentic and/or ‘fake’ reviews from those who have not had a genuine purchase or service experience very seriously. In addition to the manual investigations described above we employ sophisticated software to flag up fake or non-compliant reviews.
Persistent violators of our guidelines are asked to cease this behaviour and are subject to legal ramifications. For businesses, this can ultimately lead to consumer notifications on their profile page and suspension. For consumers, this can also lead to clear warnings and ultimately being blocked from using Trustpilot.
It is our hope that this letter provides further clarity on how the Trustpilot review platform operates. The points here relate to all consumers and businesses, including Purplebricks.
The Trustpilot Team