fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Hey everyone,

I'm praying someone here can assist me.... urgently! We have a truly nasty competitor who has done a lot of terrible things to us over the last year or so, including running up $1,000 worth of PPC clicks on Yelp ads from the same couple of phones (2-3 times a day, same time every day, & it went a month before we caught it), among many other things.

Now our listing has received an onslaught of close to TWENTY 1-star star reviews in a matter of days. The first several were fake accounts he used to leave himself a 5-star review and our listing a 1-star review, and we were able to get several of those flagged. I thought that was the end of it, but I was still furious because this business had 50+ 5-star reviews and zero negative reviews over 2 years. Just having one clearly fake review was infuriating. But apparently that wasn't enough blood for him, and the next thing I know we are getting as many as 3-4 blank, fake, 1-star reviews a day over the last week and half or so. They are all completely blank, with no comment, just a 1-star rating.

Needless to say, this location doesn't have that many customers a day at all, and the first 7 or 8 were over a weekend where we had zero clients. They are just blatantly fake. It seems like they are still coming in, so he could have 30 or 40 in store for us, we don't know. After reading prior posts on this topic, I direct messaged the GMB twitter account 2 days ago, but haven't gotten any response other than the automated COVID-19 reply.

I'm praying that someone can assist me. This kind of thing can put someone out of business when you depend on online leads as much as we do. Help!!! Please help!

-Fred
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Send me a message and I can share the info with you.

@JoyHawkins Do you have any advice? I am desperate. The reviews are still rolling in today and now our business is dropping off the map. This is devastating....
 
Last edited:

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
3 more blank 1-star reviews today.

That's 9 more over the last 3 days. The listing is completely tanking.... is there anything at all we can do to keep from going out of business?
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Thanks Joy. When I submitted the form, I received an email auto-response. I will respond to that and cross my fingers. Thank you again.

6 more fake reviews in the last 24 hours... July 23-24
 

ash-grin

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
19
Thanks Joy. When I submitted the form, I received an email auto-response. I will respond to that and cross my fingers. Thank you again.

6 more fake reviews in the last 24 hours... July 23-24

Hi Fred,

I have had a VERY similar issue with a client of ours. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get them taken down and Google doesn't have a great process for controlling true spam. However, we have found that sending to Google support as Joy indicated is the first step. Most times in our case they just replied back saying it didn't violate guidelines and that was the end. But you could get multiple people to flag it from separate accounts. I am not sure if that is what worked for us, but a lot of ours got taken down even after Google told us they wouldn't remove. I assumed the other flags worked or that Google was getting better at detecting that spam. Keep in mind it won't be a quick fix and I'm so sorry to hear you are facing this.
 

Leon Lee

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2019
Messages
5
This might be obvious but if all else fails and your listing is utter crap.. why dont you join em?

I know of someone pretty well known in the underground spam world and theyre using fake phones all legit to leave positive reviews only.

This is your livelihood at stake here.. and if support wont do anything you might have to take things into your own hands.
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Guys,

We have waited patiently for Google for weeks now as the fake reviews continued to roll in. We now have THIRTY, yes thirty fake, completely blank 1-star reviews.

We heard back from Google this morning and they said that they would take absolutely zero action. Nothing. They pointed us to the policy guidelines about reviews and suggested we report them, BUT THEN said that because the reviews are blank and they only will address the "content of the review" that they won't remove them then either,

We haven't had a single new customer in 2 weeks. This is so unbelievable I don't even know what to say. I assured everyone that there was no way Google would let this happen and here we are.

@JoyHawkins Is this the end of the road for us?
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
This might be obvious but if all else fails and your listing is utter crap.. why dont you join em?

I know of someone pretty well known in the underground spam world and theyre using fake phones all legit to leave positive reviews only.

This is your livelihood at stake here.. and if support wont do anything you might have to take things into your own hands.

Yeah, it is my livelihood at stake. And with no new customers in 2 weeks it's gotten bad. This guy is having 3 or more fake reviews left in a single day, there's no way I can get that many positive reviews a day AND close the gap on the 30 or so that have tanked us. I guess this shameful horrible person has figured out a way to destroy businesses and Google will do nothing but watch.
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
2 more blank, 1-star reviews since I updated this thread 1 hour ago.

It defies ALL logic that, if it were even possible for us to have this many bad experiences over this timeframe, that not a single one of them would leave a comment about an employee, a service, someone being rude on the phone, something.

On top of that, the perpetrator has apparently figured out that as long as they leave blank reviews they will never be addressed by Google, because Google apparently only reviews the content of the review (which doesn't exist), instead of all the information we gathered into a Google Doc and presented to them.

We have the personal information (DOB's, SSN, etc) of all of our clients, and if it were even possible for us to receive that many reviews (of any type, positive or negative), we would be able to identify them. This is a complete travesty. I would rather be paying exorbitant prices to Yelp and still have a business than shut our doors and lay off employees because some goofball working for Google can't identify blatant spam in a tiny tiny town with a competitive niche.
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Thank you for the advice but completely re-brand our business? Wow, yeah, that makes sense for a fake listing but not for a real actual business with ties to the community and a client base. That's not even a realistic option.

I guess the best advice is to fight spam with spam on Google! Pretty laughable that this is the best Google can do.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Administrator
LocalU Faculty
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
3,761
@fshanksiv - the other option would be that I can escalate it on the GMB forum. I normally direct people there, when they hear back from Google My Business support and their response doesn't make sense. The only negative here is that it's currently taking about 6 weeks to get responses from stuff we're escalating there so I'd be happy to escalate it, but I'm not going to hear back fast. If you want to go that route, post a thread, include all the details of your business, and some examples of the reviews along with when they started.

The other thing is that you might want to talk to a lawyer. If you believe it's a competitor there are legal options here.

I strongly disagree with all of Leon's advice here.
 

Gsmithmike

Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
104
Hey everyone,

I'm praying someone here can assist me.... urgently! We have a truly nasty competitor who has done a lot of terrible things to us over the last year or so, including running up $1,000 worth of PPC clicks on Yelp ads from the same couple of phones (2-3 times a day, same time every day, & it went a month before we caught it), among many other things.

Now our listing has received an onslaught of close to TWENTY 1-star star reviews in a matter of days. The first several were fake accounts he used to leave himself a 5-star review and our listing a 1-star review, and we were able to get several of those flagged. I thought that was the end of it, but I was still furious because this business had 50+ 5-star reviews and zero negative reviews over 2 years. Just having one clearly fake review was infuriating. But apparently that wasn't enough blood for him, and the next thing I know we are getting as many as 3-4 blank, fake, 1-star reviews a day over the last week and half or so. They are all completely blank, with no comment, just a 1-star rating.

Needless to say, this location doesn't have that many customers a day at all, and the first 7 or 8 were over a weekend where we had zero clients. They are just blatantly fake. It seems like they are still coming in, so he could have 30 or 40 in store for us, we don't know. After reading prior posts on this topic, I direct messaged the GMB twitter account 2 days ago, but haven't gotten any response other than the automated COVID-19 reply.

I'm praying that someone can assist me. This kind of thing can put someone out of business when you depend on online leads as much as we do. Help!!! Please help!

-Fred

Fred, I am going to recommend a different approach, First of all I assume you got Fake Clicks for your Yelp ads? if that is the case then you should talk to Yelp first. These days you can easily do the fake clicks by a program. You can let Yelp look into this, if you are advertising with them and get an answer from their end. This would also help you to collect info, that you can use against whoever doing this to you. * Yelp is problemtic, you might spend on ads and dont get the actual ROI, or less clicks/results! I dont like their ads .

For Google Reviews: This is where things can be a little bit challenging.

First of all, Google put a delay to post reviews, that was due to covid 19, and so it took some time to see actual reviews showing up on map. So there is a good chance those reviews were there, for some time, and google just pushed it to go live.
That is why it might show all at once. I have also seen reviews disappearing. Your best option will be reporting them Once! not constantly, so take a fake review, flat to report, then explain the reason. Then try same with a different google account, mark as incorrect info and submit.

The important is to be persistant! Eager enough to resolve this issue, lets just accept, google is not a human, its a machine, and has a huge data base, lots of issues can happen, and your ONLY option is to keep Trying!

this is only suggestion: When do you think people pay attention to something really good? When things go viral! - So put together a Press Release, and warn others! Mention your situation, even Go on Twitter and directly message @GMB. Also put a post on your website, explain the situation! It is not the end of world and you still have options to improve your business!
 

fshanksiv

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Messages
9
Thanks Joy.
@fshanksiv - the other option would be that I can escalate it on the GMB forum. I normally direct people there, when they hear back from Google My Business support and their response doesn't make sense. The only negative here is that it's currently taking about 6 weeks to get responses from stuff we're escalating there so I'd be happy to escalate it, but I'm not going to hear back fast. If you want to go that route, post a thread, include all the details of your business, and some examples of the reviews along with when they started.

The other thing is that you might want to talk to a lawyer. If you believe it's a competitor there are legal options here.

I strongly disagree with all of Leon's advice here.
@JoyHawkins Thanks Joy. I'll do this. 6 weeks is an eternity in business but it sounds like the best solution given the options.
 

Peter Hill

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
32
Have you thought of responding to the spam reviews and politely pointing out that you believe they are competitor spam, and directing people to a testimonials page or something?

I don't know whether this would impact Google's likelihood to remove them. While not a perfect solution it could be better than just letting them sit out there. I have seen people do this, and i'd like to think that at least some customers are aware that review platforms are imperfect and will read the substance of the reviews.
 

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