Reviews site Trustpilot has revealed that it is conducting an investigation into the estate agent sector “at large”.
It would not be drawn into the nature of the investigation, but yesterday also revealed that discussions with Purplebricks have concluded.
Trustpilot told us that an approach to inviting reviews, which is in line with Trustpilot’s guidelines, has been agreed.
Discussions started last autumn after publication Wired ran a highly critical story under the headline: “Are Purplebricks’ Trustpilot reviews too good to be true?”
The revelations from Trustpilot have come after EYE asked about allegations made this week by allAgents that 70% of reviews on Trustpilot could be fake. Trustpilot has condemned this, and other allAgent allegations, as unfounded and incorrect.
allAgents has based its claims on reviews posted about allAgents itself on Trustpilot.
Martin McKenzie of allAgents said that 42 reviews were reported and 31 eventually removed.
McKenzie said: “This equates to an astonishing 70% of the reviews that were dubious, possibly bogus. Of course no reviews site can stop them entirely, but from our industry experience they should definitely be no more than 15% for any individual company’s profile.
“If this level of suspect reviews is replicated, that would mean 70% of their reviews could be bogus.”
allAgents were involved in a long-running dispute with Purplebricks over negative reviews posted on its site.
By contrast, Purplebricks has always enjoyed high ratings on Trustpilot.
In this week’s attack, allAgents claims that its own negative reviews on Trustpilot were only taken down after it threatened legal action.
McKenzie claimed that Trustpilot “ignored our repeated requests to investigate” the reviews.
He added: “It was a matter of hours before our deadline for legal action to take place, that Trustpilot contacted our lawyers and removed the negative reviews and put them into their investigation process.”
However, yesterday afternoon a Trustpilot spokesperson told EYE: “These are unfounded and incorrect allegations by another review site, that we are currently in litigation with.
“We do not want to be drawn into a public discussion about that at this time, but we would like to provide more understanding of how our platform works.
“Trustpilot has not removed 70% of the reviews of allAgents for being ‘dubious’ or fake and the suggestion that 70% of reviews across our whole platform are likely to be false is simply wrong.
“Any business can flag a review on Trustpilot if they think it breaches our guidelines – one example being it contains coarse unacceptable language.
“All flagging behaviour of companies can now be seen on every Trustpilot company profile.
Of the 42 reviews reported by allAgents 11 have been put back online and 31 have currently been removed from the platform.
“You can also see that reviewers have not come back with a response, or updated their review to bring them in line with our guidelines.
“However, this absolutely does not mean that these reviews are ‘dubious’ or fake and if a reviewer were to come back to us at a later stage and ensure the review complies with our guidelines their review would be placed back online.”
The spokesperson added: “We are committed to being the most transparent reviews platform and in addition to being able to see information about how companies flag their reviews we also recently launched our new Transparent Inviting feature, which shows how businesses are inviting and receiving their reviews.”
Another claim made by allAgents is that Trustpilot has approached it twice about a possible partnership.
McKenzie said: “We declined as we simply could not trust the authenticity of their reviews – if those about allAgents were anything to go by.”
Trustpilot told EYE: “We’re always looking at potential opportunities to work with partners that may help to provide a better experience for anyone using Trustpilot.
“As you would imagine, conversations take place with potential partners all the time and we would never comment on such conversations unless there is something more official to announce.”