It is well known that we, the consumers, trust recommendations coming from peers or fellow consumers much more than we trust what businesses are telling us about them. Therefore the businesses selling social proof are very powerful and they can easily manipulate our thoughts on any brand.
Yelp even won a court settlement recently, giving them permission to legally manipulate ratings. Both Yelp and Trustpilot claim that they don’t manipulate the truth, but when you take a closer look at the services they are selling, you get a completely different picture.
There are quite a few sites online that allow you to write reviews on any company, but the majority of worthwhile ones are paid services geared towards businesses collecting product reviews on their e-commerce websites, so members of the public cannot just go and write a review about the company, the rest are business directory websites like yelp.com. So when I discovered trustpilot.com a few years ago it seemed like there was finally a useful and transparent review site.
Trustpilot may have started well back in 2012 when it was run by just a couple of guys, maybe they even had honourable intentions to keep the site honest, but sadly the service has definitely gone downhill since they have grown in size and their standards have declined and any good intentions left by the wayside in favour of profit.
Trustpilot’s service has degraded so much that they are themselves now being reviewed on other review sites for their unethical behaviour.
> Only 9% of reviewers recommend Trustpilot
> Trustpilot – not to be trusted so much
From my own dealings with them, I can confirm that I have experienced what I would consider unethical and biased practices when they have removed negative reviews and they have made it very difficult (sometimes impossible) and time-consuming for me to get it re-instated, requesting ludicrous evidence, and refusing to make any effort to verify facts, even something as simple as clicking a link.
Most consumers will simply get so frustrated with this incompetence and time-wasting tactics, they will give up, which is clearly the intent as this puts Trustpilot in the position that they can blame the consumer for not following through.
The compliance team pushes the boundaries of incompetence and dealing with them severely tests your patience.
If a company is using their free service then it seems as though they will happily allow defamatory or fake reviews to be posted unabated, and will gladly ignore any requests to get them removed, in fact, if you read the feedback on the sites above, business owners are claiming they are being blocked by TrustPilot from reporting defamatory or fake reviews.
The only way around this seems to be by using their paid service, after which you receive the opposite treatment and they will go out of their way to remove negative reviews and will even refuse evidence from the customer proving the reviews are legit and will not make any effort at all to verify details you send them.
So what does this mean to the consumer?
Unfortunately, since Trustpilot allow reviews to be manipulated, this means that the scores and ratings you see for any company may not be reliable.
They do have processes in place to stop the same person leaving multiple reviews under different names, and knowing how to get around this will be beyond the ability of the average person who is not very computer literate. This, therefore, puts the bias on companies which have only positive reviews, and are thus more likely to potentially be paying to have the negative ones removed.
One solution to verify a company that seems too good to be true is to check other directory sites such as yell.com, yelp.com, freeindex.com etc which they may not be monitoring. Also social media, Facebook, twitter, linked in etc. Companies who are in the habit of removing negative reviews will usually not allow posts on their Facebook page without moderation, or will quickly remove anything negative, so this is easy enough to test. No company can remove other people’s tweets though, so check their timeline and do a search for specific phrases.
Dodgy unsolicited sales calls are pretty much the norm these days, and we tend to take them from granted, those of us who are savvy do not fall for them, but sadly there are still plenty of people out there who do get scammed and swindled out of their hard-earned cash by these tricky sales people. The more of us that document these scams and companies implementing them, the less effective they will be as more people get into the habit of searching online first for reviews.
I had a phone call recently from this chap at edfirst.co.uk (aka School Supplies Service), asking me if I did IT support for schools, and how he was looking for providers in my area as currently, they did not have any and the schools were in need of IT providers. He lamented how his company was the main supplier for schools and involved in all the tenders and how I would be listed as the “go to guy” on the school’s database for my entire area and would make a lot of money as a result. He also made a point of telling me they do not make any money from this and are not allowed to charge anything for this service.
I was still interested and listening at this point, but it all went downhill when he then went on to mention the company he had called before me, and how he had spoken to someone called “Tina”, but she needed to speak with her boss first, so he had called the next person on the list, which was me. He then proceeded to try to play me off against them, stating that the first one to sign-up would be the sole provider for my area, and I really needed to sign up right now or he would then call the next person on the list, and then asked me for a £500 registration fee.
Alarm bells now started to ring, as clearly any legitimate tendering service would not have any requirement for you sign-up there and then on the spot or lose your chance, and trying to play me off against someone else like that is quite clearly a dodgy and unethical sales practice, plus he had contradicted his earlier statement of them not making any money from this by asking me for £500. So I made my excuses and asked him to email the details over to me, so I could check up on this company.
I checked out the edFirst.co.uk website and it seems to be just another directory website targeted at schools, who do little more than supply a printed version of their directory to the schools. After a bit of googling, I found numerous feedback from others which confirmed my suspicions and those who had paid the fee to be listed had got no work from it.
I also called the IT support company he had tried to play me off against and spoke to Tina, and she confirmed the conversation and that he had tried exactly the same thing on her, and tried to play her off on the company he had called prior to calling her.
Needless to say I advised Dale that I would not be parting with my cash on this occasion.
Reviewing on Trustpilot
Normally I post all my reviews on Trustpilot, but in this case, I was told by Gemma from the Trustpilot compliance team that literally every single part of my review was defamatory and had to be removed. I was not allowed to mention the person who called me, or what was said during the phone conversation or mention the other reviews/feedback found publicly online. I was advised by Gemma that I would need to provide police/court evidence to back up everything I have written above, which is obviously quite ludicrous and impossible.
Basically, I was thwarted from posting anything negative, so I can only assume that edFirst are using Trustpilot’s paid service, which allows them to request the removal of negative reviews. Read my review on Trustpilot below for more details.
A couple of months ago I decided to bite the bullet and get rid of my Windows Phone and switch back to Android, I donated my Nokia Lumia 930 to my son. While I liked Windows Phone, and I do prefer the GUI, there were just too many niggling issues and bugs and those few “must have” apps that either did not exist or the WP version sucked, and this is not going to change due to the tiny user base.
Now my requirements are pretty simple, I do not need a phone to play 4k video or play 3D games which will drain my battery within 2 hours, so spending hundreds on a phone seemed like a pointless waste of money. I did get myself a Galaxy S7 edge, but frankly I found the EDGE quite annoying as I could not pick it up or put it down without touching the edge and causing some action to occur, and frankly it felt so flimsy I was scared of breaking it, so I sent it back as I am not prepared to spend that much on a phone if it annoys me in any way.
I do not understand this whole concept of making phones more powerful with more battery draining features, yet thinner so the battery cannot even last a day if you actually use it for anything other than checking your email. Surely if you want to use your phone to watch a video and play games you need a phone that has a big fat battery in it, I think the phone makers are really missing a trick here. Phones are not primarily phones anymore, that functionality is likely the least important feature for most people, what they really want is a pocket tablet/gaming device.
So I decided to start looking at budget phones, and specifically the Chinese alternatives which seem to be getting more popular. My first choice was a Doogee X6, which despite having good reviews turned out to be a mistake. It felt very cheap and the screen was very unresponsive, either it did not even detect my taps or detected them in the wrong place, I found the device totally unusable and frustrating, so that was returned after a couple of weeks.
My second choice was the Uhans U200, which is an unusual looking phone, but it seemed chunky and solid with a bigger battery than most, a proper mans phone, which was exactly what I was looking for. So far I am glad to say it has delivered everything I had hoped and is absolutely worth the £85 I paid for it and I would not hesitate to buy this phone again. There is also a smaller model called the Uhans U100, which I have bought for my son, and he loves it also.
Despite being a Chinese phone, there are no issues setting it up, it is as easy to setup as any UK phone, and the Uhans packaging is as slick as any top of the range phone.
I have also installed a Windows Phone style launcher, so I still get the benefits of the GUI that I preferred on the Windows Phone but with an Android.
Look and Feel
The Uhans U200 I think is squarely aimed at men, it has a real leather back with a crocodile skin pattern, and I must say I like it, sadly it only comes in black, there are no other colors which is a shame, as I would have quite liked one in actual snake skin style. The other big advantage with the leather is that it is immune to greasy finger prints, which is something that affects just about every phone. As soon as you touch them, they are covered in them. It is chunky too, it has a 5 inch screen and I can hold this phone comfortably without fear of dropping it, and it feels solid, the buttons are easy to use with my big fat man fingers, and with the metal frame I do not feel the need to actually purchase a case to protect it. I carry a man bag so not really an issue for me, otherwise it sits quite happily in my jacket pocket or the leg pocket of my combat trousers.
Performance and Usage
The Uhans U200 has a 5.0 inch screen, 4G Smartphone, Android 5.1 MTK6735 64bit Quad Core 1.0GHz 2GB RAM 16GB ROM, 13.0MP Main Camera OTG
So far I have no complaints with regards performance. The screen is responsive in all applications including games. It has had no issues with running any of the apps I use regularly, playing video etc and the only time it has struggled is when I tried to play some resource intensive 3D games, although it still managed to run them at an acceptable speed to make them playable, but this is not an issue for me as this is not what I use my phone for anyway, but when I do play games, it does the job.
Sadly you do not get fast charging, but hey it is a budget phone, so I am not complaining, and I suspect that in the near future that this will become a standard feature for all phones, budget or not.
The battery easily lasts all day for me, sometimes I have forgot to charge it and it has lasted 2 days, but that is with me barely using it.
This is one area where the phone is let down, when I went looking for a case, I found only one, and not a lot else accessory wise. However this is a compromise I find acceptable, being as the phone feels so chunky and solid anyway, I am not feeling the need to buy a case, although I did order the only one available just so that I do have something to put it in when I don’t take my main wallet, and the case does match the style of the phone and it is wallet style case itself, so fits in well with the whole MANLY concept of the phone. Other than this there is actually no other accessories I actually need, so again I have no real complaints.
After several months using this phone, I can say that the camera is a bit of a let down. As long as you have good lighting then it takes great pictures which I have been happy with, but as soon as lighting is less than adequate then it struggles to get focus, and the flash often seems to go off BEFORE the shutter, which means it does nothing to illuminate the target. The rest of the time the flash seems to add a blue hue to the picture, which is also not great.
This has been the biggest let down of all, support from UHANS is virtually nonexistent. I contacted them about an issue I was having with the SDCARD reporting wrong size, and each reply took several weeks, the last response took them 2 months, so I gave up as they simply did not care and were unhelpful.
I then had cause to contact them about connecting the phone to the PC as this also would not work. They told me that Windows 10 is not supported and I had to install Windows XP or Windows 7 to do this. This is absolutely shocking and incompetent that they are suggesting I install an end of life, no longer supported OS with serious security vulnerabilities. Even Windows 7 is no longer secure to use.
You may recall from my earlier post “O2 customer service driving me insane” that I have not been having a very good experience with O2 support/customer service of late, and sadly things have not improved and if I had any hair then I would certainly be tearing it out by now, so here is my latest rant on the subject.
My last phone from O2 was a Nokia Lumia 930, which while being an overall good phone when it works, I have had ongoing problems with it and O2 and have had it replaced around 5 or 6 times now. Now most of these replacements were O2’s decision to just replace the phone because they could not be bothered to troubleshoot my issues, which on several occasions were to do with signal problems, call quality, sms messages going missing and the likes so replacing the phone actually made no difference at all. Yet they actually had the gall to tell me that they would not replace the phone again due to the number of times it had been replaced already, even though most of the replacements were O2’s choice not mine and were due to their own laziness. I have also since discovered that all the replacements I have received are refurbished not new phones, which probably explains why I have had ongoing problems.
O2 also has the default response to tell me to take my phone to my local O2 store so that they can take a look at it. I have taken my phone to the store twice when advised, and the store staff and the store manager has told me that they cannot fix phones so it is pointless O2 support telling me to take my phone there and they do not know why they keep telling customers to do it. They are not engineers, and the most they can do is a factory reset or just follow the exact same canned response suggestions that O2 support have already given. The only thing the store can really do is just send the phone away to be looked at or repaired, which O2 support can arrange themselves anyway. Even when I tell O2 this, and advised them that the store themselves told me this, they still continue to suggest going to the local O2 store.
So my current issue with my Lumia 930 is that the search button stopped working which is quite annoying as it takes more effort to use cortana as well as search, I have now had 2 phones with this issue, and also a phone where the screen started to grow a corrupted color blob from one side which was getting bigger and bigger. I have wasted a huge amount of time on the phone, on live chat and on twitter with O2 trying to resolve this and getting no where as every person is as clueless and unhelpful as the next, it is like running up a down escalator.
I am certainly thankful for my OneDrive cloud storage and phone sync that is for sure, as have had to factory reset this phone so many times now because O2 required me to do so due to their standard response.
The last suggestion I had from O2 after weeks of back and forth was to book a meeting with an O2 Guru. I do wish I have taken screenshots of my live chat conversations as most of these are monumentally stupid.
This is despite me telling them that the staff in the shop cannot fix phones, and I asked them to confirm if the guru was any different, and they advised me that he would be able to help me fix the phone. Needless to say I did not believe this, and was not going to make 2 hour round trip to take my phone to someone who would just give me the same response as my local store. So I booked an appointment but I also took my phone to a local repair shop and they advised me that it was the digitizer which was faulty and that this was a common issue with refurb phones. So I advised O2 of the issue.
I then got a response from the O2 guru who I had booked the appointment with, and he informed me (as I knew he would) that he would not be able to help me with the problem and the phone needed to be repaired. So I then reply to O2 support and tell them this, and their reply was this.
So even though they knew the phone was faulty, and knew what the fault was because I had told them, they had still told me to go to the guru who they knew could not fix such an issue. Not to mention that I had previously been told they would not repair the phone now due to the previous replacements.
During this whole process, just to wind me up a bit more, we were getting lots of unsolicited calls from one of O2’s sales/marketing agents called ADSI, all the other numbers on my account were getting calls several times a day trying to get them to upgrade, no matter how many times they said that they are not the account holder or were not interested, the calls kept coming. O2 were just as helpful with this as well, they just said they did not recognize the number (see tweet above), further tweets did not help they just refused to take responsibility even though this company was calling on behalf of O2 with the details O2 had given them.
By this point I had started to hate my Lumia 930 thanks to O2, so as I had a couple of numbers on the account which were due for an upgrade I decided to just cut my losses and get a new phone instead. Silly me for thinking this would be any easier. I tried many times to call O2 but was constantly stuck in a never-ending queue, same with the online chat. So I sent an email to all the O2 addresses I had in my address book asking for someone to call me back to do an upgrade as I was unable to get hold of them. Did anyone call me back? No of course not, instead I got a rather unexpected letter via email telling me that my (non-existent) complaint had not been upheld. I of course had no idea what complaint they were referring to, and the sender of the letter “Christine Marsland” refused to reply to me. so I had to take it to twitter yet again order to get an explanation, which is when I was told that sending an email asking for a call results in a complaint being logged, WTF ?.
Not only did Christine refuse to reply to me but needless to say that “Terri-Ann” never called me either.
The saga continues.