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Do you Trust Trustpilot?

Trusting TrustpilotReaders, do you use Trustpilot?

Providers, do you live and die by it?

For those unfamiliar, Trustpilot is a sort of “Yelp of everything”. They offer an aggregation of reviews on nearly everything, adding 1 million new reviews each month.

As a company, they’re a disaster.  They went public in 2021 and got a nice bag, but they’ve been losing money hand over fist.  While I’m not an expert in Danish securities, it seems to me if you’re issuing 50-70 million new shares (12% dilution) every couple years (I realize 2021 was IPO, but 2019 wasn’t), you’re taking money from the public to fund your operations.  A lot of times these companies are built for the IPO event and not designed to last.  Raindog308 Capital Management will not be investing.

But what about the service itself?  Let’s start with how Trustpilot actually makes money (obviously, given their financials, we mean in theory).  I actually couldn’t figure it out because there’s no cost to leave a review or receive a review, and there’s not a ton of advertising.  Wikipedia says “Trustpilot generates income from subscribing companies who use its software to be reviewed by customers and gain business acumen from reviews.”

Well, that explains it.

Reading further, it’s a freemium model.  You sign up and can add Trustpilot stuff to your web site and interact with reviews more conveniently.  It quickly gets into ridiculous prices.

Even the free plan is a bit ridiculous.  For free, I’ll use some of my website to build the Trustpilot brand.  What an opportunity!  Okay, to be serious – the pitch (which Trustpilot struggles to make but let’s distill) is that businesses who sign up are taking a bold stand to say “we are out here in the open, and so confident in our products that we’ll guide you to a neutral third party who’ll publish our customers’ reviews”.

I suppose that says something about the company, but it relies on two assumptions: people trust Trustpilot, and they trust online reviews in general.

As to the first, well…there have been issues.

Looking at the 2022 transparency report, they claim they had 11.8 of 11.8 million reviews and removed 2.7 million fake reviews, which is 5.7% of reviews, constant year-over-year.  How these numbers add up is not clear.  If 2.7 million is 5.7% of something, that’d be 47.3 million, so…?  Perhaps 11.8m were submitted by that 2.7 million includes all years (i.e., in 2022 they removed a review from 2019).  Interestingly, 46% are 5-star reviews and 29% are 1-star, which makes sense – people are scamming to have impact, not express mild opinions.

1 out of 20 is not a problem for Apple or Samsung.  It may be a problem for Joe’s Fish & Chips who only has 3 reviews.

I posted an offer for a host a while back and checked them on TrustPilot.  I saw:

  • about 5 reviews
  • 2 were 5-star reviews
  • 2 were a 4-star reviews with minor points for improvement
  • 1 was a 1-star review with an unintelligible comment (I forget exactly but it was something like “I canceled”)

So is this company really a 3.8?  If the 1-star idiot hadn’t posted, they’d be a 4.5.

I suppose that’s not so bad (hopefully no one is making a buy decision based on a review score), but the problem is more when Joe of Joe’s Fish & Chips dumps Maryann and Maryann writes on Trustpilot that she was hospitalized with food poisoning after eating at Joe’s.

My question is if anyone really finds making that bold statement – we like to Trustpilot, reviews us – really sees a benefit?  If I had a report from independent investigators who’d checked out a service, that’d be one thing, but from TP all I’m getting is Internet randos.

Trustpilot has been expanding its “invited reviews” program.  So if I’m a provider, I could extend an invitation to you to please review us.  Of course, I only get more invitations if I pay for higher Trustpilot tiers and this can tread dangerously close to “pay more, get better reviews”.

So what do you think about Trustpilot?  Do you use them to make buying decisions?  Providers, are you signed up?  Please comment below!

And just for fun…

1 Comment

  1. Dan:

    Personally, I wouldn’t trust any review sites (unless unusual stuff included in the review like invoice/receipt). My boss always aks me to post several reviews a month for various companies (our clients?) on Trust Poilot and other sites. And my reviews are still on trust pilot (new ones and over 2 years old). The reviews companies make money by having more reviews, removal of bad reviews also gets them good amount of doe.

    August 28, 2022 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

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