Google My Business; Dealing With Fake Reviews Is Hit Or Miss.

Google My Business, Support, Hit or Miss?

I work as a digital marketing specialist for a local property management company, which means I deal with Google a lot, and I find myself extremely disappointed with the lack of business friendliness. First of all, getting hold of someone at Google, on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 6 or 7, their product forums are a joke, I rarely find a thread, even remotely helpful, I found the best way to reach them is via Twitter.

Onto the background story, we have been having an issue with a former employee posting multiple 1-star reviews, some with review text, some without, some that are outright libelous. The first time I reached out to Google My Business on Twitter, after giving up on the product forum, the person I was conversing with, Liz escalated my case, and, of the 13 reviews, what I believed to be fake, 10 were removed.

Last week, I performed the same action for the latest batch of, again, what I consider to be fake reviews, one reviewer was even pissed that their previous review was removed. This time, a different Google My Business representative, Amie, responded after two days and said the following;

Thanks for reaching out! Our guidelines do allow users to leave a star rating without any text. Therefore, the review in question does not violate our policies and cannot be removed. Keep in mind, users are not required to use a real name when leaving reviews, so you may not recognize the name.

This looks like a stock canned response, without any escalation, anyway, Amie continued on to say;

Responding to reviews can help future customers see your approach to customer service and know that you actively reach out to resolve any issues.

We already do this, responding with something like, “we are unable to locate your name in our customer database, if you use a different name online, we’d like to learn more, please reach out to our corporate office on [phone number]…”, you know how many people reach out? exactly zero, none, nada…

So, the bottom line here, is, with Google My Business support, it depends on the representative you get, sometimes, you’ll get excellent service, from Liz, but a canned response from Amie.

To make it clear, I don’t report just bad reviews, I have also reported a number of 5-star reviews, which I knew were fake. There were some 1-star reviews that were posted by people, who also had reviewed other businesses with a mixture of star ratings, which I did not report. All the reviews I reported were the first and only review that user had made and one where they were upset a previous review was removed.

Some times, I read a review and I know it’s genuine, the only response is “We’re sorry”, we make mistakes, we’re human, we put our hands up and admit our mistake, and try to make amends. This is not about removing negative reviews, it’s about protecting our brands from unfair, often libelous reviews.

My issue is this; individuals can post whatever they want, seemingly without consequence, what some might call free speech, doing untold damage to a company. A good example of this is former residents that were evicted for a variety of reasons, being butt hurt, so they write a libelous review, and because of the anonymity of the Internet, no consequence for them, while our business suffers a drop in business.

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