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Need Advice about false reviews on our google business listing

Since hometalkers are some of the most honest and ethical people that I have had the pleasure of interacting with on the internet- I need your advice.
There is another remodeling company in our work area spamming our review sites including Google places. We have all positive review expect for a few 1 star reviews that are coming from one of my competitors. Should I ignore them and keep on getting good reviews from real clients and trades? Or should I get a few hometalkers to give us good reviews to counteract the negative reviews that are not real? I would never do this to another company even if I did not like them. It is not the ethical thing to do. Here is our places page for your reference- http://maps.google.com/maps/place?q=sawhorse+atlanta&cid=14517714660231314438

  • Daily5REMODEL
    Daily5REMODEL Washington, DC
    on Jan 4, 2012

    Wow, shame to hear that another company would do that. We've had some discussions about how to counter unfair and/or bogus "reviews," and one consistent piece of advice is to get your true fans to post positive reviews. If there is a critical mass of positive reviews -- and I'm sure there will be in your case -- your best prospects will see through the bad ones. You may also want to contact Google Places. Is there a reporting mechanism for this kind of attack?

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    @Daily 5- I did contact Google places several times but they have not responded. Unfortunately, bad reviews affects positioning on Google searches so this is a serious matter.

  • KMS Woodworks
    KMS Woodworks Nederland, CO
    on Jan 4, 2012

    Google does have a "removal" link you can follow through with. I just flagged the three 1 stars as "inappropriate" . We will see what becomes of that. The fact that all three of these responses have no details...just the star rating show that it is a simple attack. All of your 5 star rating have "content" that show what was done and why the rating was given. Most consumers can read between the lines to see what is valid and what is not.

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    Thanks KMS! Businesses on hometalk- getting listed on google places is very good for your web placement. If you don't already have a profile- set one up today. Let me know if you need help.

  • Paul M
    Paul M Fairburn, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    If you can prove who is doing it and that the review is baseless you can file a defamation charge against them, that would at least stop the insanity.

  • Daily5REMODEL
    Daily5REMODEL Washington, DC
    on Jan 4, 2012

    I can imagine. @SawHorse, this seems to underscores the dangers of relying on online reviews, for businesses and consumers alike. They're a wonderful thing, in theory, but can be abused and misinterpreted in many ways. I'm sure other of my readers have faced this also, so how about I ask them in tomorrow's issue how to confront this kind of damage? I think they'll also have good advice to help homeowners avoid being influenced by false reviews. FYI: d5R and Hometalk will be sharing more Q&As, so this could generate a great discussion that is seen by thousands of contractors and homeowners alike.

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    I was going to let it go, but since they have given me 2 bad reviews already and I am not sure that they will stop. I thought about taking legal action or writing a demand letter, but didn't know if that would cause them to increase the damage before I got them to stop. I also believe in Karma so I know that they will get what they deserve in the end.

  • Yamini LEED AP at Urbanmotifs
    Yamini LEED AP at Urbanmotifs Duluth, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    This is so bad, why would a company want to do this, they are not going to get far.Yes I believe in Karma too, my advise, keep doing what you are doing SH and you will shine, treat these reviews like a barking dog while you walk by like a royal elephant. I wish the reviews could be done like how we connected with people on LinkedIn. If you do not know the person then Linked in won't allow you to connect.

  • Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC
    Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC Virginia Beach, VA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    Matt, I did the same as Kevin (KMS) and flagged them as inappropriate.

  • Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of
    Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of Alpharetta, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    Unfortunately I have heard this complaint from contractors on a number of sites. My general recommendation is that if you do respond to the review online, keep it professional. Consumers who read these don't understand that they may be competitors. In my mind the most successful responses are those that say in a professional manner: "I have not been able to identify you as one of our customers. If you are a customer, please contact me, we take our customer service seriously and we would like to resolve any problems, if you are not a customer but a competitor trying to trash our good name, shame on you." Each website has its own rules on when and how information can be review Review them carefully and see if there is a method of contesting. I have written one or two letters to websites and have objected and insisted they keep information to identify the poster by IP address, etc as litigation is possible. In each case, the offending posts were taken down (because there was a process to remove and the posts were clearly outrageous with offensive language) but I have not yet had a matter in which the damage justified the cost of legal challenge. If you can identify the competitor who did this, there may be claims that can be filed for unfair business practices, etc. Unfortunately, defamation requires a proof of damages as one of its elements which is unusually difficult to demonstrate. My advice to consumers when I speak about construction fraud is that review sites are to be taken with a grain of salt. If there are only good reviews, that does not mean you stop your due diligence. If there are mixed reviews that means you investigate and discuss those reviews (some customers have unreasonable expectations, could be competitors posting a bad review, or it could be a legit review and the contractor either addressed the issue or not). If there are all bad reviews, that is a red flag. And of course this is one of the reasons when I speak I urge people to check out Hometalk.... you get more quality info than "reviews" about contractors, how they handle matters, what other contractors say (even when approaches may disagree), and you can always send a homeowner who posts on here a private email asking for more info -- conduct your own inquiry.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc.
    Peace Painting Co., Inc. Alpharetta, GA
    on Jan 4, 2012

    When I clicked on the link, it said that page does not exist. Anyway, I guess we should not be too surprised. If you weren't doing a good job, this would not happen. Get out of a fools way and he will be his own undoing, so this too shall pass. Don't let the attack dampen you spirits or rob your joy, then they will have accomplished what they set out to do. In the end, your work speaks for itself no matter what you say or do. CP

  • Collingwood sawdust builders
    Collingwood sawdust builders Waxhaw, NC
    on Jan 4, 2012

    its sad that our reputations are based on a star system or a click now.Should my website be a reflection of my work?Anyone can buy tools and say they are a pro nowadays.I have so much fun with this sometimes.Other times I get frustrated.I have guys over the years with more time under their belt and square footage than I.I tell them to lie and say they've only been doing it a year.They will never get it.It is a combination of skills and physical ability. Ican almost guarantee you that this competition of yours is under that category.Probably wears his tool ,pouch in front of him,and his sawsallblade on the right "which is wrong"way lol! thinks a 2x10is 10 inches wide.. Don't worry about the politics .Your true colors don't fade and anyone who decides on who to hire through an internet site is making a big mistake in the first place

  • Collingwood sawdust builders
    Collingwood sawdust builders Waxhaw, NC
    on Jan 5, 2012

    on the other hand ,my friends are telling me the benefits they have got from google listing.Is it worth the $??

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 5, 2012

    Sawdust. It is free just like hometalk.

  • KMS Woodworks
    KMS Woodworks Nederland, CO
    on Jan 5, 2012

    I just ordered some material from amazon..( reloading stuff) and used the "consumer reviews" to steer me in the right direction...I based my choices based on the descriptive paragraphs rather than the "stars". If someone takes the time time to actually "say" something it is worth the "read" ...also as a former science geek and engineer...you need to look at the statistically significance of the numbers.....a couple of 5 star and a couple of 1 stars may = a 2.5 rating...but if those one star rating are because the guy order the wrong color does it really mean the product is not up to par? Collingwood...I wear my tool pouch on the front...hammer on the right...cats paw on the left...where does that put me in the que?

  • Collingwood sawdust builders
    Collingwood sawdust builders Waxhaw, NC
    on Jan 5, 2012

    not sure, you tell me.Are you a carpenter or do carpentry?If you tried to return your pouch to lowes,would they take it back ?Can you scrape enough salt off the leather from sweat to salt your fries at lunch? LOL,Hey Sawhorse? There is a google that you pay for,and it keeps you on top of the list supposedly. My land surveyor claims it has kept him afloat. Only problem is you pay per click and if you had soeone mad at you like in you situation ,they could just click you till your broke I guess.I think I am on the free one.All my work comes from growing up in charlotte ,and building it basically. I would freakout if i had to rely on the internet.I stick to the positive sites like this one where i can see for real what people are doing

  • Teresa D
    Teresa D Snellville, GA
    on Jan 5, 2012

    Sawhorse, I agree with the majority here. Shake them off and let karma get them. I check reviews as well and those 1 star ratings would not be any help to me with no detail to back it up. I was going to suggest what Kevin said - respond very professionally. That says alot about a company's customer service to me as a consumer who doesn't know the company from any other. I've read some company responses that were snippy and downright disrespectful. That was a huge turn off to me. I would also be concerned if there were several positive comments posted around the same date, indicating the company was trying to pad their ratings. I can imagine your frustration with this and hopefully it will stop.

  • Amazing Improvements and Garages
    Amazing Improvements and Garages Marietta, GA
    on Jan 5, 2012

    Matt, reach out. I have been dealing with this for 2 years and have done a lot of the legwork for ya. On Christmas morning, I uncovered an additional $2300+ in click fraud against my firm - just over the past year. I am working directly with Google on this. I am thinking about hosting a class for NARI members specifically addressing digital assets.

  • Kat's Home Repair Referrals
    Kat's Home Repair Referrals Raleigh, NC
    on Jan 5, 2012

    I agree with Teresa..what goes around comes around..the cream always rises to the top. Continue to do good work, treat your customers as you would good friends and the rest will take care of itself. I don't think want to take up valuable time counteracting their reviews. Anyway, homeowners are becoming much more savvy and understand the need for asking refs from contractors they are considering which you have. Hang in there and best wishes for a prosperous '12!

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 5, 2012

    Thanks for all of the advice. I will just continue to solicit "real" reviews from our clients. @Amazing- I think that a class for NARI members would be useful. You could also offer it to hometalk members.

  • Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC
    Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC Virginia Beach, VA
    on Jan 6, 2012

    Several interesting posts. It is unfortunate but true that we at times must take the good with the bad that comes with advancing technology. Displaying bad things about one or one's company can now be done.... and visible to a large number of folks by a few clicks. I like Kevin V's response that can be used on those sites that allow a response.

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 18, 2012

    Thanks for all of your advice. I ended up calling the person giving the "fake" reviews and told them this: "Perhaps you were unaware, however someone on your staff has given us false review on Google places. As a professional, can you help us get these removed?" They were gone this morning. The other "fake" review is a former employee of another company that got the same bad review. I let them know about it and they are handling it.

  • Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC
    Hewitt Remodeling Services LLC Virginia Beach, VA
    on Jan 18, 2012

    Well done Matt....

  • Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of
    Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of Alpharetta, GA
    on Jan 19, 2012

    Just a tease but I'll be including the topic of bogus reviews and false complaints in one of my presentations at NARIAtlanta University at the Cobb Galleria on May 8. Whether you are a GA state licensed contractor (continuing ed credits will be available), an exempt contractor or a related industry professional, would love to have industry members join us, even if you are out of state. http://nariatlanta.org/view/events/view_one/&eventid=141

  • Teresa D
    Teresa D Snellville, GA
    on Jan 19, 2012

    Good deal, SawHorse. I know that takes a load off your mind.

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 22, 2012

    Thanks @Sheila- I have enough stress in my life without creating enemies. I sit on several boards and would give positive reviews to any of my competitors that sit on the boards as well. People like to see positive energy between businesses. @Kevin- can't wait to see your presentation

  • Amazing Improvements and Garages
    Amazing Improvements and Garages Marietta, GA
    on Jan 22, 2012

    Matt, your lucky they backed off. My "irratation" keeps at it daily. They have a tracking software for craigslist. Whenever I post an ad, they recieve notification and flag the ad till it is flagged off the site. Generally a 30-60 minute ad lifespan. So far today, Sunday, they flagged off 6 postings, one right after the other... You would think they would have better things to do,,

  • SawHorse.net
    SawHorse.net Atlanta, GA
    on Jan 23, 2012

    If you belong to some of the same trade organizations, you can always file a claim with the ethics board. You can also hire an attorney. I believe that Kevin specializes in this sort of business.

  • Amazing Improvements and Garages
    Amazing Improvements and Garages Marietta, GA
    on Jan 23, 2012

    I wish... this person runs a criminal operation and works as far under the radar as ya can. I can't even find a current business license on them, yet they project their appearance as the best in the biz in the Atlanta metro. Where we maintain an A rating at the BBB, they maintan a F. They even contacted Kudzu recently asking for some of our 5 star reviews be removed. (Of course, Kudzu saw thru this and denied them the satisfaction). They have been successful at taking us down several times on search engines until I discovered the situation and worked directly to rectify it. Google told me they had never come across such a sophisticated approach to fraud and competitor slamming. (He contacted them over 40 times to say we were closed). They have a big file on him as he used their platform as a basis for his fraud. All of his Google results are now suppressed, so thankfully, those seeking concrete staining solutions will not see his (previous) 23 phony business names and locations. Ug.

  • Amazing Improvements and Garages
    Amazing Improvements and Garages Marietta, GA
    on Jan 23, 2012

    Matt, Kevin and I have discussed the matter. I'll share this off line with ya.

Answer this Hometalker's question!