I had a very bad experience with an engineer who ripped me off, that story is here: https://joelx.com/my-review-of-aaron-ryan-hoover-at-ceed-civil-engineering/17491/. I am not going to get into that here, instead I want to focus on something very interesting: Somehow he got all the negative reviews of his business removed from Google Business Profile including the one I wrote.
I wrote a detailed negative review similar to my blog post above and included screenshots proving it was real including the contract and the legal judgement against him. Then later I did a Google search for his name and saw that he still had a perfect 5 star rating on his Google Business Profile. How could this be? I clicked and saw my review was still there… so I did an Incognito search so I was not logged into my Google profile and I saw the review was gone. Google had ghosted my review; they filtered it so no one saw it but me.
Why? I deleted the review and tried rewriting a shorter one and checked all of Google’s policies for posting reviews and made sure I was fully compliant. A week later, this was gone too. I tried again another couple of weeks later, this time with a one line review and a screenshot of the legal judgement… this one got filtered too.
Finally, I only posted a star rating review alone with no text or images. This review seems to have stuck.
So what is going on? I tested this a bit on another Google Business Profile with a known fake review that had never been removed. I went through a few theories, but eventually found that using multiple Google accounts to flag a review would result in it being removed. It must be some sort of algorithmic count / account value check.
I have noticed that Google maps reviews have become less and less trustworthy over the last couple of years, and this appears to be the reason. Certain unethical but savvy businesses have figured out how to remove all negative reviews.
Another example that I believe may be using this method is Escape Hour Ruston Way. They have 619 reviews and not a single one under 1 or 2 stars. Even the very best businesses in my experience get a few crazy customers or something goes wrong at some point… it is very bizarre to have a business that has never had a negative customer interaction. My wife and I did their escape hour and it was fun, and a bit better than some of the other escape rooms we’ve done, but I wouldn’t say it was deserving of the perfect 5 star rating.
What do you think?