Trustpilot responds to extortion and cheating allegations

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).

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One Comment;

  1. Jelte Kösters said:

    Trustpilot is right on this. If you start inviting, your score increases. The trouble with reviews is that without inviting people only the disgruntled ones who did not like your product or service are going to invest the time of reviewing. For happy customers, the circle is already complete – they paid you, you provided them with something they like.

    You DO NOT have to be a Trustpilot customer to invite people. All it gives you is making invites easier, automatic and you can invite more customers per month. It comes with a price tag, though, So, if a company invests this money from its budget, its only logical that they would use it, which then leads to a better rating. That is no fault of Trustpilot.

    I’ve brought Trustpilot to the attention of management in the company I work for. We had a one star rating. This was due to some bad practises, which I attacked first and got successfully changed. That alone improved our rating slightly, but not enough. So, without yet being customers of Trustpilot, we actively encouraged customers to go to the site and tell us what they thought about us there. We are now at a three star rating, one percentile short of four.

    Extortion did come up, though. Some people just want special treatment, stuff for free, have their cake and eat it too. They write bad reviews with fake accounts that take long to get rid off, which is annoying. We were already up to four stars before the latest guy started to ask us for money or he would “ruin our reputation”. We do not negotiate with terrorists – and none of this is Trustpilot’s fault.

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