March 27, 2023
Trustpilot secures first court orders banning property firm and dental practice from buying and writing fake reviews
Announcement comes as part of platform’s continued push to protect consumers online
LONDON, UK - MARCH 27, 2022 – Trustpilot today announces it has been successful in securing its two first court orders banning property firm, Euro Resales, and dental practice, The Dental Experts, from buying and submitting fake reviews on its platform.
The leading reviews platform issued legal proceedings against both businesses after they failed to respond to earlier enforcement action - including formal Cease & Desist notices and public Consumer Warnings that Trustpilot had placed on their profiles to warn consumers about their efforts to mislead through the purchase of fake reviews.
Euro Resales has been ordered to pay damages - all of which will be donated to the Citizens Advice Bureau, which works to champion and protect consumer rights - as well as legal costs to Trustpilot. Harley Street-based The Dental Experts has also been issued with a court order banning the business’s owners, and any future businesses they set up, from soliciting fake reviews. The firm, which has since entered insolvency proceedings, has also been ordered to pay damages - which are currently being agreed and, when received, will also be donated to Citizens Advice Bureau.
Trustpilot’s Fraud and Investigations team found evidence to suggest more than 360 fake reviews had been posted by Euro Resales, whereas in the case of The Dental Experts, 1,868 suspected fake reviews have been identified and removed since May 2020, when the business claimed its profile - which is approximately 58 percent of all reviews submitted about the business on Trustpilot.
A public warning was also placed - and remains - on both Euro Resales’ Trustpilot page and The Dental Experts’ Trustpilot page, alerting consumers of the businesses’ abuse of the platform and informing them of the fact Trustpilot has successfully sued them.
Both cases are part of the company’s enforcement strategy announced last year. Trustpilot is issuing legal proceedings against a number of offenders who have not responded to previous warnings from the review platform, seeking court orders to protect consumers by preventing the businesses from continuing to solicit fake reviews, and to recover damages that can be donated to charities protecting consumers online.
Carolyn Jameson, Chief Trust Officer at Trustpilot, said: “Attempts to exploit reviews to mislead consumers is activity that we do not tolerate at Trustpilot. As these cases prove, we are doing everything we can to protect consumers from this, and hold businesses that continuously break our rules to account. We welcome these court orders which we hope will act as a warning to others.
“Millions of consumers rely on Trustpilot to make more informed decisions every day, so it’s crucial they can trust the information they see on our platform. Manipulation of reviews doesn’t just undermine the efforts of those businesses who do seek to improve for their customers - it also has the potential to mislead consumers, leave them shortchanged and even impact their mental health.”
Reviews of Euro Resales on Trustpilot suggest many consumers have been left out of pocket by the business. Anthony Ferdinando, a pensioner from Lincolnshire, is one such customer. After his wife inherited a property in France following her father’s death last year, Anthony and his wife paid Euro Resales £600 in February 2022 to market and sell the property - but quickly after making payment, the business stopped responding, forcing Anthony to find and pay a new estate agent to sell the property.
Anthony said: “We’re pensioners, and this experience with Euro Resales has really left us out of pocket. We’ve lost sleep over it. My wife is really upset; this was her father’s house and we just feel really empty. These people seem to prey on people who trust them and know what they’re doing, when you speak to them they’re so convincing. It’s really damaged our trust in other people but we hope in sharing our story it might help other people avoid being scammed.”
Mohammed Atif Jamil, from Halifax, says he paid The Dental Experts for composite bonding and a crown replacement - only to have four bonds break off completely or crack, and to never have the crown replacement fitted, despite chasing for a year. He was also promised a part refund of £500, which to date he has not received.
Mohammed said: “My experience with The Dental Experts has completely damaged my trust; I feel manipulated by them. Several times I attempted the eight hour round trip down to London only for them to call and cancel at the very last minute - they made so many promises only to let me down. Unfortunately I made the mistake of reading about people’s genuine negative experiences only after I made the deposit, and by then it was too late.”
Student Conni Scott, from Islington, also paid for composite bonding from The Dental Experts, but the treatment left her gums swollen and cut, and she quickly developed ulcers. She said: “I’ve had to pay thousands of additional pounds to fix the damage Dental Experts made to my teeth. Honestly, the harm they’ve caused has made my mental health nosedive. Because I can’t hide my teeth, my self esteem has never been worse - I paid Dental Experts in the hope they would help me gain some confidence but instead they’ve knocked it and me feel a hundred times worse. I was promised a refund but they either ignore me or make excuse after excuse, and I know I’m just one of hundreds of people they’ve treated this way - it’s so sad.”
Lisa Stubbs, who lives in east London, paid £1,649 to The Dental Experts for composite bonding, after seeing their advertising on Instagram. She said: “After exchanging a few messages and sending an image of my teeth over social media, the business confirmed they would be able to help and I made payment. After receiving the payment, things quickly unravelled and the practice cancelled my appointment on three separate occasions.
“When I finally did get to go in, they didn’t even do a full consultation before beginning the procedure and I quickly noticed the quality wasn’t up to standard - over the next few weeks many of the teeth chipped and bonds fell off, and other teeth had discolouration. I raised this with the practice and was given different information each time, they offered me a partial refund only to then deny this and claim they wouldn’t do it. What was meant to be a positive experience escalated into something really negative and it has left me much more cautious and untrusting.
""It is genuinely so reassuring to see Trustpilot taking a stand against fake reviews. So many people affected have complained to various authorities, the police, the CQC, and the GDC etc but have got nowhere, so this really feels like a positive step in the right direction."
The orders against Euro Resales and Dental Experts follows another case won by Trustpilot earlier this year against software provider Elfsight, after it had created and marketed a counterfeit Trustpilot app extension — known as a ‘widget’ — enabling businesses to display inaccurate Trustpilot reviews and ratings, and misrepresent their TrustScore on their own websites. These unauthorised widgets had the potential to mislead and scam vulnerable consumers out of their money.
To find out more and for more information, please visit www.trustpilot.com/trust.