TripAdvisor and the Disappearing Reviews

TripAdvisor Finally Admits “Disappearing Reviews Are Our Fault”

For months – going back to early spring this year – the TripAdvisor Owners Forum has been groaning under the weight of complaints from owners whose perfectly good reviews have been disappearing from their listings. Here’s a small sample:

TripAdvisor Reviews Disappearing

For an equally long time TripAdvisor has either been ignoring these complaints or, when they have bothered to reply, fobbing the owners off with a standard response saying that they can’t discuss reasons for reviews being removed:

Standard "Response" from TripAdvisor

For months on end these same excuses were trotted out, much to the owners’ frustration and anger.  Heated discussions abounded on the subject.

The volume of complaints grew to such an extent that a “sticky” was added to the top of the Owners Forum, and whenever someone raised the issue they were referred to it – it has since been removed but here’s the gist:

Q. Why was the “sticky”, effectively telling Owners to “go away and stop bothering us”,  removed?

A. Because finally, months on and after the disappearance of countless good reviews, TripAdvisor has come clean and admitted that it has been erroneously removing perfectly good reviews from its site.

Apparently it was “due to a bug”.

Oops - we've cocked up!

Massive Cock-Up Admitted

To give some idea of the scale of the problem, they are still working on trying to replace all the reviews they have wrongly deleted – three weeks after they admitted the problem (August 25th).

As of 13th September, TripAdvisor staff say it will take some time yet for the erroneously deleted reviews to be reinstated.  TA also says there is no guarantee that ALL missing reviews will reappear – if some don’t they are covering their backsides by saying  it’ll be because ‘they’ve been removed for other reasons’.

If you’re an owner whose perfectly good, genuine reviews fail to reappear you’ll never know whether it’s because the retrieval exercise has failed, or because TA deliberately removed your reviews, as it is TA policy never to discuss the reasons for reviews being removed.

I would be interested to know exactly how many reviews have been wiped out by TA’s “bug” but I doubt if TripAdvisor knows for sure (otherwise it would not be taking so long to try to sort the problem out), and it’s unlikely that they would tell us even if they did.  Given the hundreds of owner posts on the subject, and the likelihood that most owners would not notice some reviews disappearing, there are probably thousands affected.

Marvellous.  SNAFU, as they said in WW2.

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5 responses to “TripAdvisor and the Disappearing Reviews

  1. why, if TA ask for review to be validated, cannot they ask for proof of stay, especially if review is reported for fradulent/false info…. ?

    If a guest is going to write a truthful but agressive ‘nasty’ negative review, I mean a severe one, cannot TA ask for proof of stay – all my guests that have booked in advance get email/fax correspondence/confirmation, and walk-ins that pay by card etc. all get a receipt as proof of stay, simple procedure to verfiy truth of stay, then review guidelines can remain the same…

    I would suspect it is because reviews, both negative and positive, are not true reflections of a time spent, that owners and well as disgruntled competitors are manipulating the reviews structure.

  2. Tripadvisor follow their interests. More reviews means more consumer engagement in trip planning, and that’s good for vacation rental Business Listings and other TripAdvisor advertisers. The more the bad reviews are the more the consumer engagement grows as that leads to harder decisions. Quite straightgorward.

  3. The crazy random email requests for people to “validate” their reviews, for one.

  4. This admission is the tip of the iceberg; there are plenty more ‘bugs in the system’ that are equally, if not more, damaging to Owners.

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