Trust is part of all brands, not just trust companies, as that is where brand loyalty comes from. Good product or service, on time delivery, truthfulness in advertising — all are part of building that trust.
Unfortunately, with the chaotic digital marketplaces this trust can be broken in many ways. The most recent accusation: Fake reviews.
Vendors can take advantage of the idea of independent reviews to try to build that trust on a false foundation.
We recently noticed ratings on an independent website that were negative but listed as five stars, and claimed in the review text that they put five stars since the company automatically wouldn’t publish the rating otherwise.
Another claim is that vendors pay purchasers with a gift card to leave a five star review that doesn’t reflect their actual usage. A paid endorsement gets listed as an unpaid independent review and may be hard to catch unless the person that receives the offer contacts the marketplace about it.
A recent article from CBS summarizes the findings from Fakespot, a website designed to check the integrity of reviews, who recently made claims such as:
- 52 percent of reviews posted on Walmart.com are “inauthentic and unreliable,” Fakespot estimates
- 30 percent of Amazon reviews are fake or unreliable, the study found
- About a third of reviews on makeup retailer Sephora and video-game service Steam are also unreliable or fake, the analysis discovered
The article also lists red flags for spotting unreliable reviews:
- A one-day surge in five-star reviews
- Broken grammar
- Reviews from reviewers who post hundreds of reviews in one day
Amazon and Walmart.com have responded that they are investing significant resources to spot fake reviews and remove them, but given the size of their marketplace and number of vendors, it may be a difficult challenge.
The FTC is looking help consumers with this issue. They issued the first fine for fake reviews earlier this year against a weight loss supplement seller. Later on this year, Sunday Riley (a cosmetics seller on Shephora) did not admit to any wrong-doing, but reached a settlement with the FTC regarding review manipulation.
Trust is hard to build, and easy to break. Luckily, even with fake reviews, the vendors that do not deliver on their promises won’t be able to stand up to the test of time and build the repeat business needed for longevity.
As an independent trust company, we thrive on the trust we generate with our customers and our ability to implement trust agreements over time, sometimes for generations. It’s extremely important for us given the amount of their financial welfare our customers trust us with.
It is what we do, and we are held to the highest regulatory standard (the fiduciary standard) as a result.
At Garden State Trust Company, we will always place the highest value on trust, and hope that our clients will endorse or review our services honestly to their peers. Should they be kind enough to do so, we are always ready to receive a referral and treat it as we would any trust client.