- Google My Business: Arbiter Elegantiarum
- Yelp: Withdrawing Liabilities
- Trustpilot: Setting a Trust Limit
- ConsumerAffairs: Consumer-directed Approach
- Pissed Consumer: Taking the Best and Burying the Worst
Consumers rely on reviews. A good and trustworthy collection of reviews depicts a full picture of the brand. A well-rounded collection may take your company up or bring it down. Consumers have various reasons for writing reviews.
Some people simply want to share their opinion, others use them in to get their issue resolved, yet others are using them as a weapon to damage reputation of their competitors. Majority of reviewers, however, want to spread the word about the company/product and its interaction with the consumers.
There are numerous review platforms online for posters to choose from and share their story on. Each platform that is subject of the current article has their own policies as to review posting and review removal procedures.
Yes, each one of these platforms removes reviews. So, keep it in mind next time you decide to post a feedback online. Let it even be our little advice – read the removal procedures first. Just in case. Most of the posters mistakenly think that everything they posted anywhere can be easily removed from public view.
First of all, anything that got online at least once might stay there for a while in the farthest and darkest corner of Google search. Second, we need to go back to the matter of «terms and conditions» of different websites. Did not mean to, but, to repeat ourselves, you should better read them before agreeing, as it is something that might hold you off from unpublishing your review in future.
To save your time, we decided to look at five most popular online review platforms and produce a short overview of what we have found in their «privacy policies» and «terms of services» that are often overlooked by posters.
Arbiter Elegantiarum, Also Known as Google
It is believed that this ‘guy’ has one of the fullest and fairest policies for everything. When talking about Google My Business as a review platform, its rules fit in just a couple of pages.
These pages include all information about publishing, rating and reporting reviews as well as review policies that proclaim major principles of content quality.
A separate Google My Business' list of prohibited and restricted content can be found there as well.
Google frequently updates this list. Therefore, dear Posters, keep it in mind when you do not find the review about your own business recently posted by you.
To be honest, our expectations were disappointed a bit, because we were getting ready to go through tons and tons of various rules and the most important restrictions. At the end of the day, there are a few important rules.
The first thing Google warns you about is that your published content will be publicly available. Thank you for a warning, of course, it is kind of obvious, and it is kind of strange to write a review about some entity and make it visible only to yourself. Nevertheless, this is the first thing to be highlighted.
Secondly, there are no anonymous reviews in Google My Business. We all can dispute whether it is fair or not if it influences the privacy of the poster or their freedom of speech. In other words, you are simply walking the street wearing a T-shirt that has “XYZ Company scams people” written on it. There is no obligation imposed on you in putting your name next to this text, so everybody around knows who wrote it or thinks this way.
Either way, rules are rules, and if you do not like it, then find the review platform that allows anonymous reviewers’ voices to be heard.
Interesting fact: Google “may take down any review that [they] think is fake or that does not follow Google’s review policies”. Imagine that…It is more or less clear that Google moderation team can remove whatever content they think violates Google policies. What if the poster him/herself wants to remove the review or rating they posted?
Actually, the procedure of unpublishing is described in five clear steps. It is sufficient for the poster, please keep in mind that he or she is a registered Google user to:
- open Google Maps;
- click Menu in the top left corner;
- click Your contributions and choose Reviews;
- click More next to the review you want to delete;
- choose a delete option.
It seems like it is much harder to post a review in the first place and it is a piece of cake to delete it.
Yelp: Withdrawing Liabilities
Now back to posting and removing of reviews. Similar to Google’s approach, Yelp wants their users to be identified, i.e. registered. Also, Yelp wants their posters to be “18 years or older”.
A huge disappointment was the clause that prohibits PissedConsumer.com from accessing and using Yelp website since we are competitors. Life is full of twists and turns… There are certain restrictions as to content published on the website, but all review platforms have them. Yelp’s Content Guidelines do not have anything special that would be worth mentioning.
It looks pretty much standard, for example, false information, intentionally misleading or defamatory content, any information that violates intellectual property or proprietary right, as well as pornography or exploitation of minors, etc. On the other hand, if your review gets unpublished from the website without any prior notification, do not be surprised. It happened because it [Yelp] can.
If you are seeking to unpublish your own review, Yelp website makes it as easy as Google does. You begin with locating your review in your account, then click on “Delete Review” icon and confirm it. Yelp not only allows you to remove your review but also to close your account. As a result, all your postings will also be removed from public view.
Trustpilot: Setting a Trust Limit. Prove Your Experience or “Fly” Away
Taking into account the name of this review platform, everybody might start trusting it per se. As many other platforms, the poster has to register on the website first, but in the end of the day each poster can change their username upon the request according to Terms & Conditions of Trustpilot. By far not all review platforms offer this feature, to be honest.
Of course, you review has to express your personal experience, which is a very important clause used by every review platform. Trustpilot decided to go even further and set the expiration date on your “Service Experience”. Apparently, Trustpilot posters may share their experience only as long as it is not older than 12 months (Paragraph 3, Guidelines for use of Trustpilot).
On top of it, the poster might be obliged to verify their reviews by providing “documentation that shows that the [poster] have had a Service Experience with the Company [the poster] has reviewed.”
So, please start collecting all the cheques from the stores and restaurants, because you never know when you are asked for them by this review platform. Unlike Yelp, Trustpilot claims it does not share provided documentation with any third parties including the reviewed company. We did not have a chance to check it though.
Finally, we have got an exhaustive list of reasons for review removal stated by the review platform. It looks trustworthy from the users` point of view. At least it gives posters opportunity to understand what exactly was wrong with their posting in Trustpilot’s eyes.
Moreover, if you write something completely unacceptable by their rules, you can even be blocked and deleted as a user all together. And your reviews will share the same destiny as your account.
Same as Google My Business and Yelp, Trustpilot allows review removal by the posters who published them. The procedure is almost identical. Since all the users are registered, you simply need to log in to your account, find the review you would like to get rid of and press the trash can icon “Delete review” next to it. After the confirmation in the pop-up window, your review should be permanently deleted from the website.
ConsumerAffairs: a Consumer-directed Approach
One more review platform that we looked at is ConsumerAffairs.com. Knowing already the main points that caught our attention during our previous research, the first thing we checked was the poster’s registration clause. Similar to the aforementioned websites, ConsumerAffairs.com requires posters to create an account with the website, before it grants you an opportunity to post a review.
However, unlike Yelp they promise not to share the registration emails with commercial organizations for marketing purposes.
On the other hand, “your access to any or all the services at any time, without notice, for any reason” can be terminated per ConsumerAffairs.com decision. Sounds familiar to Yelp’s policies.
What are posters` rights in terms of their review removal on ConsumerAffairs.com? The company claims to have a strong policy against review removal. Even if the issue that the poster complained about was resolved, they do not remove it, because “the consumer’s original review is relevant to other consumers”.
Pissed Consumer: Taking the Best and Burying the Worst
The major thing that distinguishes PissedConsumer.com platform from others is that it allows anonymous postings. It is completely up to a user to decide if they want to register or not.
Of course, there are different points of view on this matter. Some people say (mostly company owners) that allowing anonymous posts puts them in the position when they are unable to address customer's concerns. But if you look at it from your own (user’s) perspective, do you always want to be contacted by a company after something went wrong during your interaction with that company? Give it a little thought.
Pissed Consumer believes that the freedom of speech should not become a hostage of a made-up username and an email that, in fact, can be temporary and does not provide any legitimate representation of the customer. So, if somebody does not want to disclose his or her identity for whatever the reason is (even if you are just shy), please feel free to share your experience with others on this website.
There is a special procedure for the posters who are seeking review removal, if originally posted information was not truthful at the time of the posting. The poster can send a notarized letter that meets certain requirements and the posting may be removed.
Pissed Consumer provides the removal opportunity to companies as well. If a company obtains and presents a valid Court Order, Pissed Consumer will comply with it and remove the URLs in question.
Nevertheless, the key point is still encouraging the companies to address and resolve issues of the customers, because surely it is more beneficial for the business and online appearance.
As to the removal of accounts, this platform is still looking for the perfect balance. PissedConsumer.com is not sure about some of the other platforms approach of deleting reviews together with the account they are associated with. At the same time, nobody wants to force anyone to be a part of the website.
It does not matter how many review platforms are out there. Each one has their own policies. Some allow more in terms of review posting; others give you more freedom when it comes to review removal. In the end, it is always up to a poster to decide which one to use, of course.
- how to remove a complaint
- how to remove a review
- how to remove a review on PissedConsumer.com
- how to remove a review on Yelp
- how to remove reviews on Google My Business
- remove a review on ConsumerAffairs
- remove a review on Trustpilot
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