In time, we have faced several times to be rated negatively by robots on Google Reviews, or real people that has not been truly clients with us.
Their system is ultra vulnerable, and we don't recommend registering your company in Google Maps (you can't remove it even if you request), instead, you can use paid 3d party services which tightly verifies real reviews (trustpilot free version is enough for most companies)
According to French law, false reviews are punishable by a fine of €50,000, please refer to the article: Click here
Other very interesting articles about the subject of Google Reviews, and how French law evolves quickly regarding this matter :
Click here and Click here
It can be a nightmare to be removed, indeed google is unable to analyse properly, what is true or not, because they only rely on computed criteria with no human assessment. Flagging the review as inappropriate for spamming or other reasons will in very few cases result in the review being deleted. It will be necessary to make a claim procedure to Google. This procedure is very well hidden by Google, indeed, they don't like it as this will require a human intervention.
There's only one way to force Google to do it right, get Google to demand who posted the reviews, provide an invoice for the service used, and of course, in most cases, they will not be able to provide it. But, this will only happen after the following preliminary steps.
1 - Flag the concerned reviews as spam
2 - from google maps, from a mobile device, you can report that the 'person' in case it has done some steps to become a 'local guide', you can flag his profile by clicking on its name, and say : 'low quality', in time, it will help Google to ban the user
3 - With 1-2 friends or close people with a google account, ask them to report the opinions concerned as 'OUT of SUBJECT'. (using SPAM has less impact for removal criteria used by Google)
4 - It's always good to contact a few good customers and explain the problem at hand and encourage them to post a review, and not only that, you can also assure them that you will do the small favour in case they face the same problem. The new positive evaluations will hide the false ones a little for the time being
Now, imperatively wait, 2-3 days for the decision result. Google decides badly in more than 50% of cases, it will have to go to the following claim/appeal procedure.
Google is not showing properly the trick we are going to show you to proceed with a claim, follow the detailed steps :
5 - From Google search, Type 'Google my Business', and log in your account
Bottom right of page, click on 'Help', and search for 'Delete reviews', and it will propose you a button with something like 'Manage your review removal requests', click on it, select your company, click on 'verify state previous requests for review deletion', Click on 'Appealing eligible reviews', Continue, now bottom, you can see a small button like Claim/appeal, this is here that all can be done.
Fill in the form title with : Spam Robot
For message content :
We are certain that this evaluation is spam, we do not recognize this person in our customer database. Thus, this evaluation is inadmissible under French law (NF ISO 20488 standard), because we must be able to demonstrate that this opinion is not legitimate, in other words that this person has never been our client.
If we could contact the person, we would ask them to provide an invoice that would prove the use of our services. This verification is done by major rating systems, but Google does not handle correctly the 'Reviews' function and verification in these products. Even when no claim is done, anyone can put a review on anybody without legitimate proven right.
This evaluation infringes the rights of our company. Indirectly, Google does not make a serious verification, nor gives us the possibility to verify and prove that this evaluation is inadmissible in the event that the person cannot provide an authentic invoice. This situation puts Google at odds since Google has full power over this review system.
According to article L 121-2 of the Consumer Code, dubious commercial practices are sanctioned, in fact :
These practices harm consumers (whose choice is distorted) and competing companies (whose products suffer from unfair competition).
Pursuant to the Law for Confidence in the Digital Economy (LCEN) of June 21, 2004, two categories of websites should be distinguished:
Publisher sites (authors): they publish their own content;
Hosting sites: they publish content put on the web by third parties, and are therefore simply a publication intermediary.
However, in application of the European directive on electronic commerce 2000/31/CE and the provisions of the LCEN in particular article 6-1.7, the responsibility of the host will be retained only if it is proven that he deliberately uploaded or left online this type of manifestly illegal content.
Misleading commercial practices are liable to be punished by two years' imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 euros (article L.132-2 of the Consumer Code).
Furthermore, any breach of the information obligations mentioned in Article L. 111-7-2 is liable to an administrative fine, the amount of which may not exceed 75,000 euros for a natural person and 375,000 euros for a legal person ( article L. 131-4 of the Consumer Code).
Following the checks carried out, the DGCCRF notified the companies concerned of warnings, compliance injunctions, administrative fines and drew up reports for misleading commercial practices.
Some companies have also been sanctioned by the French courts (eg: 50,000 euros fine for having produced false reviews).
Finally, the courts have also condemned Internet users who have published opinions when they had not benefited from the services mentioned (eg: 2,500 euros in damages and 5,000 euros in legal costs for having written a negative opinion against of a restaurant that had not yet opened).
Since September 2018, the reference to the NF ISO 20488 standard has committed a website to guaranteeing consumers that the opinions consulted correspond to identified authors.
This means that Google must guarantee the authenticity of reviews, and this is not the case at all according to the current operation. In the past, we have succeeded in having opinions removed without really justifying ourselves, and you have done so on the basis of computer information of which only you know the data and it is you alone who choose the criteria to judge that an opinion is questionable. The only valid method of proof must be provided by the person who issues an opinion, by proving by an invoice that he has used the product/service of the said evaluated company.
Google must evolve strongly, because it's only a matter of time, you will be condemned sooner or later, you are not in compliance with French law. Either you move on, or you give up on posting reviews. You could perfectly evolve at a lower cost, when an evaluation is reported, whatever the reason, authenticity is the first thing to check, whoever posted could submit a pdf invoice, and your tools recognize thanks to the GED that the said invoice seems 90% authentic (the person's first name must correspond to that of the invoice, and the name of the selling company too). Conversely, if no invoice is provided, in the case of a notice reported as spam/fake/robot, the evaluation should be automatically deleted.
You have to arm yourself with great patience, see new article to read
For persistent opinions, we are now armed for the start of the formal notice procedure with a lawyer's letter:
(Once paid once, we should be able to reuse this letter in the future)
A bailiff for proof costs 90€ on the net
We will do this procedure with between 5-10 negative opinions to dispute.
The content of the letter is paramount.
Monday, January 24, 2022