One More Reason Not to Trust TripAdvisor Reviews
At the beginning of this month I noticed on TripAdvisor a small B&B with a rash of recent reviews that had pushed it to the top of the listings in its region.
The owners had no reviews on TripAdvisor until July 2010, then within a few weeks a regular series of reviews appeared. Every review was by someone who had just joined TripAdvisor, all reviewers had done nothing other than review this one property, and all awarded this B&B 5 star reviews. Oddly, the reviews were all in French until the end of September, when a number of badly written English reviews appeared.
One of the English reviews, purporting to be from the USA, said:
My wife and myself were royally baffled by this unexpected eclipse of hospitality. Rare for French hosts, English is spoken very well.
That review was shortly joined by another from a supposed resident of New York:
The place is the fusion of high class and style – you can find yourself in the room with bed from Bali (put some colonial fumes in your evening) and the same time you can observe Mac book as a decoration over your head during the breakfast time. If you are still deciding where to stay visiting Pxxxx – don’t hesitate, Cxxxxx is the place to go !
There were several of these “English” reviews, one after another in the space of a few days around the beginning of October.
Taken as a whole – the sudden surge of reviews by “virgin” reviewers at the end of summer into autumn, their unalloyed praise, the bizarre phrasing of the supposed English reviews – all this strongly suggested that some, if not all, of the reviews were “plants”.
TripAdvisor has since removed the obvious fake English reviews.
However, the French reviews have been left in place, the property did not get “Red Flagged” and it remains listed as the most popular B&B in the area, with nothing to indicate anything untoward has happened. Effectively, the property has got away scot-free.
If one owner can do it, then doubtless other owners are also faking their own reviews on TripAdvisor. Even worse, by removing the more blatant fake reviews that anyone could spot, but failing to penalise the listing, TripAdvisor actually makes a property look better: people are more likely to be conned by the reviews that remain than they would if the obvious fakes had been left there!