Last week, Danish news channel DR1 insinuated that Trustpilot was involved in the extortion of small shopkeepers and cheating in user reviews. The Trustpilot team has now responded to the criticism.
Trustpilot was put under the microscope last week in a news story about a beauty salon with poor user reviews. The salon’s owner, Camilla Rude, who has a masters from Copenhagen Business School in online marketing and consumer behavior, contacted the company after she found negative reviews about her business. But rather than get help, she felt Trustpilot tried to extort her, by offering to improve the score of her business by becoming a customer.
“We deny that there is any link between our sales department’s work and the handling of the reviews. Our vendors operate independently of our department that handles reviews and assesses whether reviews should be archived or not. Our sellers have no influence on this process,” says head of communications at Trustpilot Mathilde Lykke Bülow.
“Credibility is the core of Trustpilot, and therefore it would go against our existence and our mission to extort businesses. It is up to each company to decide whether they want to pay to use Trustpilot’s services,” writes the company in press release.
“A company does not automatically get better reviews by becoming a paying customer of Trustpilot. There are two factors that affect a company’s Trust Score: if the company has good customer service, and if the company engages consumers to write reviews – for example, by inviting them to review them after a purchase.”
DR sharply criticized Trustpilot’s business model, referring to research done by Peter Grønne of the digital bureau Dwarf, showing that enterprises that were Trustpilot customers displayed marked increases in Trust scores.
Trustpilot responded to this criticism, saying:
“Trustpilot’s business model involves free and paid services. Trustpilot is available for free for all. […] Companies who want to engage more with their customers and use Trustpilot tools can buy a range of services. […] Companies that begin to invite their customers to write a review, will typically see an increase in the number of notifications, and they will get a more representative sample of customers reviews. ”
Read the full Trustpilot response to allegations of extortion and cheating here (in Danish).