New York fines companies for fake online reviews

Customer review trust is not given, it is earned. (Amazon.com)

Customer review trust is not given, it is earned. (Amazon.com)

Fake online reviews are a comedy genre of recent vintage, but not everyone is laughing.

Today, New York regulators will announce they are cracking down on companies that post deceptive reviews of products and services on the Internet.

Nineteen companies have paid fines totaling $350,000 according to an article on The New York Times website. The companies either paid for fake reviews, or hired people for as little as $1 to gin up some praise.

The misleading prose was found on sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo and Google.

I always check out online reviews before making a major purchase and find the ones on Amazon to be helpful. I don’t regularly use other review sites but post your opinion below.

Fake reviews pay. A 2011 Harvard study found a one-star ranking increase on Yelp boosted sales by almost 10 percent.

Another study indicates 10 to 15 percent of online reviews are not legit.

How bad is the problem?

Last year, marketing consultant Olivia Roat wrote an article titled “All About Fake Online Reviews: The Problem of Separating Fact from Fiction.

In the article she stresses she found “fake reviews greatly disconcerting.”

Today it will be announced her company will pay a $43,000 fine for writing fake reviews for 30 clients.

Here’s a few more news tidbits to inform and entertain you that have nothing to do with the Emmy’s:

38 comments Add your comment

0zymandias

September 23rd, 2013
7:59 am

Is New York going to try to fine the national media emanating from its for all the bull[manure] stories they give us each day about all the “transparency,” competency and ethics in the 0bamaJiveTalker Administration?

0zymandias

September 23rd, 2013
8:02 am

Will there be fines for all the stories quoting The Great Teleprompter Reader & his jive promises about how the NSA is *not* collecting our phone call, web surfing and email information in explicit detail and how he *isn’t* tapping any of that information to use against his opponents and ‘haters?’

LydiasDad

September 23rd, 2013
8:13 am

I believe D. Geller & Sons does the same thing on Kudzu.com. Look at the consistent negative stories, and then all of the glowing reviews intended to compensate for them. That’s a horrible company. Kudzu tells companies to “reward” reviews, so they can’t be trusted much anyway.

BenDaho

September 23rd, 2013
8:13 am

I can’t wait for more hollywood pitch-douches advertising Obendovercare. Like who believes anything that comes out of their mouths? Maybe California will fine them. All they do is read lines,not think, kind of like the teleprompter messiah.

Stuck In Reverse (a/k/a "Hide the Sharp Objects")

September 23rd, 2013
8:19 am

I spent the weekend hating myself and wondering why I was put on this Earth to suffer.
Naturally, the first thing I could think of to do Monday morning was complain about the President in utterly unimaginative ways and whine about concepts over which I have no control and barely any understanding.
You may have seen my earlier posts.

Lois Lane

September 23rd, 2013
8:20 am

Speaking of Fake Online News…

Aren’t CNN.com, NBCnews.com, ABCnews.com, CBSnew.com and AJC.com merely just propaganda and fake news outlets for the once-prestigious, once-respected, once-honorable White House?

Lois Lane

September 23rd, 2013
8:24 am

For its consistently fake, pro-Obama news, how many fines will AJC.com receive from New York this month?

BenDaho

September 23rd, 2013
8:29 am

You musn’t forget NPR (National Propoganda Radio) for being in the tank for B.O.

joe

September 23rd, 2013
8:38 am

Me thinks Stuck has his head stuck somewhere where the sun don’t shine…

Master of The Obvious

September 23rd, 2013
8:42 am

You guys shouldn’t be so hard on people who write fake online reviews or stories.

Bloggers and online review posters HAVE TO write fake positive reviews about our current President.

If they write anything even remotely critical or even object about the poor job Barry is doing or his blatant incompetence, they will automatically be called racists.

Don't Tread

September 23rd, 2013
9:25 am

I wonder how they would find a “fake” review without doing things the NSA currently does in blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment. I could see it if the “fake” reviewers did stupid stuff (like some athletes, for example) and advertise their occupation with images depicting handfuls of cash on Facebook.

If a business were to get a real 5-star review, would the All-Powerful New York City Government decide it’s fake and fine them for a “fake” review?

The hidden agenda

September 23rd, 2013
9:32 am

Lois Lane – While I agree with the sentiment of your post, just exactly when has the White House been honorable? Aside from when William Henry Harrison spent his entire 32 day presidency dying of pneumonia, I cannot think of a time.

The hidden agenda

September 23rd, 2013
9:34 am

In response to the robot funeral story, they are even giving air force wings to the bloodthirsty war criminals who sit all day playing with their joysticks and murdering innocents with drone strikes all over the middle east. Yeah, it takes real courage to kill from 10,000 miles away. Cowards.

[...] the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 23, 2013 | Posted by: Frank | Posted in: Give Me a Break | Bookmark this post [...]

the man

September 23rd, 2013
10:09 am

One company that does this is Reliable Heating and Air. Check out Kudzu to see all the fake reviews. They are a bad company with a reform school workforce.

Encove

September 23rd, 2013
10:13 am

99% of these “reviews” on all these sites are fake, sent in by management or employees or competitors. The system is total BS.

Kat

September 23rd, 2013
10:22 am

At least Obama can read and doesn’t make up words.

MANGLER

September 23rd, 2013
10:28 am

I love leaving reviews of oddball things on google maps. I’ve reviewed park benches, sidewalks, parking garages, landfills, prisons, scenic views, etc. Just in case someone randomly clicks on that little icon, they’ll get a nice chuckle. I have left legitimate reviews for companies, but they tend to get overshadowed by either the fakely positive reviews or the fakely negative ones.

Bumper

September 23rd, 2013
10:39 am

The Amazon.com product reviews can be helpful but they’re riddled with shills. The fakes are easy to spot because they’re usually the earliest reviews, they’re always glowing 5 stars, and the amount of detail provided is way beyond what most ordinary users would write.

BenDaho

September 23rd, 2013
10:55 am

Kat

September 23rd, 2013
10:22 am
At least Obama can read and doesn’t make up words.

Of course he makes up words, like you will be able to keep your doctor, er um Obamacare will save you $2500 per year…
http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

sliderule

September 23rd, 2013
11:15 am

I am puzzled regarding “can’t keep your own doctor” under Obamacare since I can’t keep my own doctor under the present system if my new carrier doesn’t use my doctor.

FarTrain

September 23rd, 2013
11:30 am

There’s not a person in the USA who puts out more fake material than Barack Hussein Obama. Why is he not being fined daily?

FarTrain

September 23rd, 2013
11:32 am

SLIDERULE, just one of his many lies to get it passed and put upon the American people. Jimmy Carter sends him Thank You cards everyday for taking over his spot as “worst President ever”!

Carole

September 23rd, 2013
12:02 pm

SMH – I feel sorry for some people. The only thing they have to do all day is wait for the next day so that they can criticize the President of of the United States. How in the world can a story about fake reviews turn into President bashing. Oh, because that’s all some people live for these days. What will you do all day beginning in 2017?

Sandra Rose

September 23rd, 2013
12:06 pm

Yelp consistently buries negative reviews for their clients who buy ad space.

George Mathis

September 23rd, 2013
12:08 pm

Ozymandias, Lois Lane, Master of the Obvious — please pick one screen name and post using just one of them. Thanks.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution quantified exactly how much a star is worth. A one-star increase in rankings can boost sales by 10 [...]

Jackie

September 23rd, 2013
1:44 pm

There are FAKE reviews on ANGIE’s LIST. Angie’s List is published reviews on lists of contractors. I tried to contact a human on ANGIE’s List and wrote them a note via their website, with no response. They are in the news for not doing so well…..hmmmmmm. I guess her service allows you read “published” writing. And you cannot believe everything you read or see- I have to remember that!

MoFaux

September 23rd, 2013
2:26 pm

the man wrote: “One company that does this is Reliable Heating and Air. Check out Kudzu to see all the fake reviews. They are a bad company with a reform school workforce.”

Do you happen to work for RS Andrews? Although I can’t dispute what you’re saying, I can say that I had one great repair experience with Reliable H&A. Fixed my AC in the hot summer and even killed a swarm of hornets that had built a nest nearby. Here’s a true story with an experience with RS Andrews:

New house, built in 2007 and my water heater is seemingly dying (this is about 3 years ago). Water temps were very low. Dude from RS Andrews shows up and before he even enters my house, he tells me that I’ll be needing a new water heater and starts talking about a new unit that his boss wants to unload at a great price. I was about ready to tell him to leave, but I let him do his thing. He gives me some spiel about how much it will cost to replace the thermostat and coils and IF they don’t solve the problem, then I’m out that money.

So, this freaking moron turns both of my thermostats down to about 90 degrees (I figured this out later) and leaves without doing anything, telling me that if “what he did doesn’t fix the problem, give him a call about the new unit”. So, I waited a few hours for the water to heat up, and of course it doesn’t. So, I investigate, and discover that this idiot is either scamming me…OR he is simply an incompetent buffoon.

I then did my homework and completely tore apart the water heater and fixed it myself by replacing both heating coils and thermostats. The problem was simply a dead thermostat. I even opened it up to check for a crack in the dip tube, which meant cutting off the piping and replacing it later.

I would not be shocked if both companies have fake reviews online, but I know which company I will NEVER CALL AGAIN. I just wish I had followed up 3 years ago and got this idiot fired and my money back. I do remember checking out Kudzu and I recall seeing a rebuttal for every negative post and accusations from the company that it was written by a competitor.

Jerrod

September 23rd, 2013
2:33 pm

0zymandias what does Obama have to do with this ….go put your head up your mothers tight bum

Horsetoothedjackass

September 23rd, 2013
3:18 pm

For the most part, you really do have to take what you read in online reviews with a grain of salt. However, it can be pretty easy to weed out the shill reviews and the planted negative reviews (Usually done by either a competitor, an ex-employee or a disgruntled current employee.). If the reviews over a certain period of time skew the same way, it’s likely to be legitimate reviews. Now if there is an exceedingly glowing review amongst a sea of average or negative reviews or a savagely negative one in a sea of good reviews, it’s likely a planted review.

One thing I have noticed over the years reading reviews of hotels is that far too many people expect four star service at a two star price. I’ve seen people give a very negative review to a hotel in Las Vegas because there was a line at 1 in the morning to check into the hotel. The vast majority of people check in in the afternoon and early evening, so hotels maintain higher staffing levels for those times. There’s no need for them to have those same levels during the overnight hours. I’ve been to hotels in which in the middle of the night, they have one person working the check in/check out desk.

What has also become commonplace is for people to air such matters on a company’s Facebook page or Twitter account thinking that they will get something for free out of it. I recall an incident on Facebook in which someone claiming to be a current guest at a hotel saying that their room had been broken into and stuff stolen and the security staff laughed at them and refused to take a report. The social media person manning the Facebook page ran the name of the person posting this and replied that they had nobody under that name registered at the hotel at that time. They tried to say the room was in their girlfriend’s name and even went as far as to create a Facebook account for that name. Once again, the social media person ran the name and replied to them that the “girlfriend” wasn’t a registered guest at the hotel either. Even a quick check with the hotel’s security staff confirmed that the claims were false.

Bill Clinton's Love Child

September 23rd, 2013
3:21 pm

George Mathis, I was heartbroken to hear the Warthog is to be moth-balled. Maybe it can be saved and repurposed for something else similar to the good ole’ Lancer : http://swampland.time.com/2013/09/20/air-force-kills-fly-with-sledgehammer/?hpt=hp_t3

Joey M

September 23rd, 2013
7:33 pm

This is funny. New York is finding new ways to fine companies. Before long they will fine companies for having the audacity to open their doors at certain times or wearing blue no non-blue wearing days. Congratulations morons for voting in these morons that make these laws. Congrats. This is no different than the mob in the 1920’s.

The Real Guy from Grayson

September 23rd, 2013
8:21 pm

A great home repair contractor does not have to pay for advertising The happy customers do it for them. If you see a hvac or plumbing contractor with tv ads; stay the heck away from them. They are only interested in beating last years sales number.

Dusty2

September 23rd, 2013
8:24 pm

Aww geee….I no take your snakey fake malarkey!

I call my mother-in-law who knows all the lowdown in town and what’s going around and what’s found to be sound and who keeps prices low as ground etc. etc. etc.

Other than that, I fix it myself No computers involved. Only screwdrivers. Saved five hundred thousand $$$ last year!! My sister’s brother even saved two dollars more.. U can 2! Get a screwdriver.

BOGUS BUSINESS BUREAU ALERT>>>>>>>FAKE review!!!!!!!!!.

thospaine

September 23rd, 2013
8:49 pm

Have they given Internet access to the asylum or is it just a slow night for the Georgia Klan?

Dusty2

September 23rd, 2013
9:36 pm

Asylum? Georgia Klan? What?

Looks like we’ve got another “tourist” from Chicago. They desert the shoot-outs at home. Then come down here to complain. Must be a full moon tonight.

teaching credentials

September 25th, 2013
10:58 am

GOP = misleading advertising.

Recommendation? No. I mean, he## no!