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Trustpilot, can they be trusted?

Trustpilot, can they be trusted?

Trustpilot, can they be trusted? 4

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, we will never know.  But once thins is for sure, even if that was was the case then their standards have declined and any good intentions left by the wayside in favour of profit.

While they do have checks in place to stop business owners reviewing their own company, or multiple reviews from the same IP address, that is nothing else in place to stop fake reviews.

Trustpilot, can they be trusted? 5

Trustpilot’s service has degraded so much that they are themselves now being reviewed on other review sites for their untrustworthiness.

> Only 9% of reviewers recommend Trustpilot
> Trustpilot – not to be trusted so much

The compliance team pushes the boundaries of incompetence and dealing with them severely tests your fortitude.

Trustpilot, can they be trusted? 6

Unethical Practices

From my own dealings with them over the years, I can confirm that I have experienced what I would consider unethical and biased practices from their so-called compliance team which has defied common sense.

They have on multiple occasions blocked negative reviews at the request of the recipient and have then refused to reinstate them unless I have removed literally every negative word from the review, or have requested outlandish and usually unattainable evidence.

They show complete unwillingness to check facts or evidence when provided, even if it is something as simple as clicking a link and looking at a web page to verify companies trading names.

Most consumers will simply get so frustrated with these vexatious and convoluted 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.

If a company is using Trustpilot’s 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 or make it as difficult as possible.

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 without question 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.

As if this was not bad enough, Trustpilot will also happily allow malicious and defamatory posts against you personally. 

According to Trustpilot’s own guidelines,  “1.1  You can write a review on Trustpilot about a company if you have had a buying or service experience with that company,”

But it seems they do not follow these guidelines, and if you have a personal web page or a blog, then a vindictive business owner can post whatever malicious and defamatory lies they like about you and Trustpilot will not care.

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, so if in doubt, you should not rely solely on this as your only source.

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. So this does mean that fake positive reviews are less likely.

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, LinkedIn 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.

If you post reviews on Trustpilot, then I would also suggest doing so anonymously to avoid vindictive retribution from malicious business owners.

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EdFirst – Unethical Telesales Practices

EdFirst – Unethical Telesales Practices

EdFirst - Unethical Telesales Practices 7

 

Dodgy unsolicited sales calls and scams 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.

If you have been scammed or feel that someone is trying to scam you, then you should report them to trading standards.

So 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.
(note since I wrote this the majority of the links I posted below stopped working and the negative reviews/comments have mysteriously been removed (no doubt due to threats and harassment from Steve Meredith), so I have removed the links)

Other Reviews/Feedback

https://www.electriciansforums.co.uk/threads/edfirst-school-supplies-service.117425/
https://my.bookkeepers.org.uk/Forum.aspx?type=&cid=0&tid=83284&lp=0&page=0&sort=
https://landscapejuicenetwork.com/forum/topics/school-supplies-service-ltd
https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=74161688

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.

So I then contacted a few of my local schools, and surprise surprise, they had never heard of EdFirst or Schools Supply service.

Needless to say I advised Dale that I would not be parting with my cash on this occasion.

Since posting this article, I have received numerous threats and harassment from Steve Meredith (the owner) in an attempt to intimidate me into removing this post. Obviously it has not worked.

Do not believe Trustpilot reviews

I did originally post my review on Trustpilot, but sadly Trustpilot also has a reputation of being unethical and biased and  they will gladly remove negative reviews if you pay them. I have seen many negative reviews appear and disappear after being reported by Steve Meredith,  and I suspect most of the positive reviews are probably fake.

I did try to re-post my review a few times, but alas Steve Meredith (The Director)  kept reporting them and getting them removed, which is what resulted in my creating this post instead.

Some of the completely false reasons Steve Meredith gave for reporting my review include:- “it was fake and they never contacted me”, “he had a country court judgement against me”, “I was a competitor”, “my review was defamatory”.

I recommend using SiteJabber instead of TrustPilot to post reviews, which so far has proved to be reliabled and unbiased.

 

EdFirst - Unethical Telesales Practices 8

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