This month the New York Attorney general laid charges on numerous people and companies for posting phony reviews online. Applause! Many people rely on reviews when making decisions about travel, eating out, and purchasing goods and services, and it’s appalling to think many of those reviews are faked or paid for. Sometimes all it takes is a little common sense to sniff out the fake ones, but sometimes the scams are elaborate, and I’m pleased to hear someone is finally doing something about it.
As you may or may not know, we post real time, third party verified reviews of our agents on their bio pages at www.livrealestate.ca for all to see. They are verified through RealSatisfed, a company that specializes in collecting and publishing reviews of real estate agents. We are not aware of any other brokerages in the Edmonton area using RealSatisfied or similar service at this time, but there are many other places to find reviews of agents in the Edmonton area, reviews that may or may not be honest. According to a recent BBC article about YELP (one of the biggest online customer review sites) about 25% of the reviews they receive are automatically filtered out as bogus. Of course, there are ways to trick the filters, and some phony reviews make it through the filters.
Eventually I think RECA (our regulator, the Real Estate Council of Alberta) should take a closer look at consumer reviews, since they are used as advertisements and representations. Some of the the reviews on some of the sites we have looked are so phony its funny. In the meantime and as always, don’t believe everything you read.