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Graham Awards


Purplebricks reviews are accurate insists Trustpilot

Controversial reviews service Trustpilot insists Purplebricks and Foxtons are not gaming its platform and accuses The Times of “misrepresenting” how it operates.

Over the weekend The Times ran an article based on its own analysis of almost 200,000 reviews on Trustpilot; in summary, it suggested that some companies appeared to jump from a very small number of bad responses one month to hundreds of positive reviews the next. 

It cited examples of Foxtons and Purplebricks, as well as firms in other industries. Foxtons, Purplebricks and Trustpilot were quoted in the story, all vigorously denied any wrongdoing.


However, in a lengthy statement left by Trustpilot spokesman Dave Robertson on the Estate Agent Today comments section, the review company accused The Times of “a misrepresentation of the Trustpilot platform and the way we work.” 

Robertson also insists it has rigorous systems to prevent firms gaming its platform.

The 485-word Trustpilot statement does not specifically comment on the figures put forward by The Times about Purplebricks’ and Foxtons’ reviews figures, nor does it explain the pattern in which they appear - Foxtons, for example, is accused in The Times of having five reviews in August 2016, with a score of 2.2 our of 5.0; yet the next month is was said to have received 467 reviews, overwhelmingly 5.0 stars. 

However, Robertson writes: “No company can pre-moderate, pre-select or censor reviews written on Trustpilot. We strongly believe in the power of being open to everyone and again no company can edit, delay, deselect or prohibit a review from being published on Trustpilot. All companies on Trustpilot must abide by the same rules - whether a company is a paying customer at Trustpilot or not has no bearing whatsoever on how their reviews are treated.”

He denies a suggestion in The Times that Purplebricks, Foxtons or any other firm - irrespective of any commercial connection with Trustpilot - could modify reviews. 

He writes: “Companies that subscribe to one of our paid plans do have access to widgets that allow them to pull in reviews dynamically from their Trustpilot company profile pages to their own website. But we do not allow in any way companies to filter out bad reviews on Trustpilot.”

Trustpilot is used extensively by estate agents, online and High Street, as a symbol of their apparent success and popularity; it has also rarely been far from the headlines in recent months.

Chancellors recently issued a press release emphasising that its 10,000-plus reviews on Trustpilot made it the most reviewed High Street agency on the platform.

Last month Trustpilot itself told the BBC that it would change its model to reveal how many reviews each client company had flagged for investigation over the previous year, in a bid to appear more pro-consumer rather than pro-company.

Just 10 days ago it was reported by The Mail on Sunday that Trustpilot had proactively sent a 'cease and desist' legal letter to a new property industry website - Conveyancer Comparison - over allegedly false reviews. The comparison site says these were in any case only test reviews always intended for removal.

Poll: Should estate agents use reviews as publicity?


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    I won't comment on any particular agency gaming the Trustpilot system. But it is clear that any review system (be it Trustpilot, Feefo, AllAgents etc) based on largely unidentifiable posters' comments being disseminated across the board, and attributed a 1-5 rating, provides both motive to game the system and no natural barrier to prevent it. We are therefore left to rely on those review companies internal checks and balances, and where they are paid by the reviewed companies, at risk from inherent conflict of interest.

    These review systems are a numbers game and do work for very large corporates in any industry. But if as a smaller company you have 659 reviews at an average 4.82 rating, and your corporate neighbour has 660 at 4.82000000001, you needn't have bothered turn up! Well done Chancellors on the 10,000+ reviews, but as a customer of a particular branch, I couldn't give a monkeys about a vast majority of the reviews you're asking me to look through.

    The public will all too often sort reviewed agents by rating, this fails because often times they're comparing apples with oranges, and they focus on a rounding error rather than the qualitative comments that apply to their situation.

    PropertyHeads agent reviews work differently. We understand that agents are hyper-local businesses (or in the case of Foxtons, Chancellors etc, a group of hyper-local businesses) and the power of word-of-mouth recommendation. Our reviews are all attributed to a specific branch. We do not use star ratings because it detracts from the written comments. Further our reviews are all attributable to a real person with a profile and a timeline on PropertyHeads. We then show your reviews to the writers' friends and connections when they're searching for an agent - hence our claim to help you grow your business by word of mouth. And this acts as our natural barrier to the system being gamed (create a dummy profile, with no connections, and the review gets seen by no one and doesn't contribute to towards an overall score).

  • Paul Singleton

    Interesting that Purplebricks score 5/5 on Trustpilot and yet they score 1/5 on AllAgents. Also on AllAgents only 9% of people that have had the misfortune to deal with them would recommend them (I’m surprised it’s that high), they score 35% on valuation accuracy (clearly overvaluing to win the £899+ deal!) and despite the fees being as cheap and nasty as they are only 20% felt that this was value for money! Ahhh CONmisery!!!

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I have not checked recently, but it used to be the case that Purplebrick's had either a 5 star review or a 1 star review, on Trustpilot. But, never a two, three or four star review. So, does a 5 star mean my home got sold and 1 star mean I paid over a thousand pounds but only got a cake in my face? And with thousands of reviews surely someone would give a 2, 3 or 4 start review.

    On a personal level having suffered from a negative fake review on Trustpilot in my agency selling days, from a 'reviewer' who had not used my services, and it took me 6 weeks to get the review sorted, I do wonder if large company's are doctoring negative reviews as logistically it would be a huge undertaking on the part of Trust Pilot and the company concerned. Maybe the jury is still out on this?

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    And cows fly

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    Gaming reviews has been going on since reviews started. Although trust pilot has no "incentive" to game reviews, the system steers the gamers towards paying for the widget API plugin - since no one would pay for a plug in that showed a poor trustpilot score. There's many ways to skin the fake review cat, from incentivising staff to elicit reviews (the tell tale here is a staff members name being mentioned in the review which guarantees them a bung) or sending a link to leave a review with a customer who is overly chuffed or gratefully, to downright nuaghtyness of buying reviews on fiverr or any other scuzzy platform. The ASA is toothless on such matters and is so far behind that they will never catch up. Fake reviews are easy to spot and a cottage industry has developed of plugins and widgets that detect fake Amazon reviews. Purple bricks will have no problem stuffing fake reviews onto whatever platform is willing to take their money, leaving industry professionals wondering how the hell they can get away with it and whether we should all just do the same.


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