A BBC Radio 5 Live analysis of online reviews has reignited the argument about the glut of positive reviews for Purplebricks on Trustpilot.
Responding to adverts posted on eBay, the undercover BBC team claimed to be able to purchase a false five star review on Trustpilot, which describes itself as "committed to being the most trusted online review community on the market".
Trustpilot told the show it had "a zero-tolerance policy towards any misuse" and used “specialist software that screens reviews against 100's of data points around the clock to automatically identify and remove fakes.”
An eBay statement said the sale of such reviews is banned from its platform "and any listings will be removed".
Outspoken Cornish estate agent Chris Wood took credit for some of the investigation, tweeting a message saying: “Happy to have played a part in this expose by the @bbc5live consumer team to help identify fake reviews being placed on an industrial scale on sites such as @trustpilot.”
The radio investigation led to allAgents - the estate agency review site that has had a series of disputes with Purplebricks - to once again call for an independent audit of both its reviews and those of Trustpilot.
Purplebricks has in the past threatened legal action against allAgents, claiming some of its negative reviews of the agency were fake.
Yesterday allAgents’ Martin McKenzie said: “Purplebricks heralds their 97 per cent positive Trustpilot rating, but today’s programme proved the process is seriously flawed. allAgents has become one of the few places disgruntled Purplebricks customers can voice their complaints, because Purplebricks are doing everything they can to kill negative reviews elsewhere.
“What’s needed is an independent audit of both the reviews of Purplebricks on allAgents, and on Trustpilot. We stand right by the validity of our reviews. It’s high time Trustpilot did the same. If they don’t agree, we can only assume it’s because they’re terrified about what an independent audit will reveal.”
Last night Purplebricks issued a statement saying:“We welcomed the BBC programme into the online review industry and actively engaged with its makers throughout its planning and development. We supplied the BBC with data including the fact that in April 2018 alone we received over 1,900 reviews, requesting additional information to validate the authenticity of more four and five star reviews than one and two star reviews. The programme also validated the Purplebricks policy of verifying every single customer review."
You can catch up with 5 live Investigates here.