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Hi,

One of my clients received a 1-star review for their tour operating business yesterday. The review was made by a lady who was driving behind the business' car. This lady did NOT join them on tour, so she didn't experience their product / service. What happened was that a few of their customers, in the back on the troop carrier, where sticking their fingers up and littering out of the window. Their tour guide wasn't aware of this (at least that's what he said). Of course, sticking up fingers and littering is not good, and we understand the frustration of this lady, but she is not a customer so her review shouldn't be allowed, is that correct? See below the review. We also tried to flag the review as not relevant to the location, but Google did not want to take it down and said we have to reply to it... Any chance we can get this review removed as it was not a customer writing the review?

1-star Review:
Very disappointed to be travelling behind this troop carrier from inskip point. People were drinking, sticking up their fingers to passing cars (including ours with 4 children watching), throwing rubbish out of the vehicle (chip packets, full bottles of water etc),and people half hanging out of the windows as the car was travelling. What a disgraceful and disappointing advertisement for your business. I can’t believe the driver would not stop or at least dissuade his passengers from this sort of behaviour. Littering and offensive behaviour is not ok!
 

Phil Rozek

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@suzievermeulen, it's extremely unlikely Google will take that down, sad to say. Google just doesn't concern itself much with who is a customer, which non-customers have a legitimate reason to write reviews, and what's a fact.

You don't have to reply to the review, though. That is still optional.
 

djbaxter

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^^^ Reply with an apology saying the tour driver was not aware of this behavior because the individuals were at the back of the bus and he could not see what they were doing, and that the company does not condone such behavior.
 

Phil Rozek

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A good reply, @djbaxter. Also sets one up to say, "We wish we could be two places at once, but our drivers focus on keeping their eyes on the road and driving safely."
 

Contractor

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Remember that a 5.0 review rating is not optimal. Having a 4.8 or so rating is seen as better (more honest and genuine). And if you are going to get a few bad reviews, it is best to get reviews that can be written off with replies like the 2 gentlemen above posted.
 

Phil Rozek

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Good call. My view has always been: if a couple bad reviews are inevitable, might as well have those bad reviews be from clearly unreasonable people, rather than from people whose reviews make would-be customers think, "Hmm, they've kind of got a point there."

If your positive reviews look like the norm and your negative reviews look crazy, then you're in good shape.
 

SmallBizGeek

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I've had this happen to me too. A review from someone who was not a customer whatsoever, and proceeded to make unsubstantiated claims about my service. At this point, you can only reply to the review as a damage control method, to appease anyone else reading the reviews.

Sure, the negative "fake" one star reviews do pull down your aggregate rating, but I think the general public are wising up to review fraud on all counts, understanding that all five star reviews and not the slightest bit of negative is rather suspicious.

I replied to the negative review explaining that I'd not done business with the person and went on to warn about the "black market" for fake reviews often commissioned by competitors or anyone with an axe to grind.
 

djbaxter

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Sure, the negative "fake" one star reviews do pull down your aggregate rating, but I think the general public are wising up to review fraud on all counts, understanding that all five star reviews and not the slightest bit of negative is rather suspicious.

I replied to the negative review explaining that I'd not done business with the person and went on to warn about the "black market" for fake reviews often commissioned by competitors or anyone with an axe to grind.
Here in Canada there have been stories about this in the popular press so people do know about such practices and the way you responded is an excellent way to remind them of that.
 

brdoane

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When replying to reviews, I also think it is not always what you say, but how you say it. When working with our clients, we advise them to always be professional, polite but also firm. Just as @Phil Rozek noted, some reviewers can appear crazy, business owners should be careful not to do the same thing.
Also, I advise my clients to avoid offering free gifts, discounts, etc., just to bring the customer back. That could encourage others to leave negative reviews in hope of getting something for nothing.
 

Mary Bowling

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Google does not require someone to be a customer to review you. All they have to do is have some interaction with the business and Google calls it good. You could call them and get a busy signal, walk by their storefront or even drive behind their vehicle. Heck, not too long ago, some of us were getting review requests directly from Google asking us to review businesses whose websites we visited w/o any other interaction.
Respond appropriately to those reviews and then bury them with more good reviews.
 

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