Recently I’ve written about the problems that fake and fraudulent consumer travel reviews — of hotels, restaurants, attractions and the like, called “astroturfing” — are causing readers of online sites who are trying to get honest information while planning their trips or while on the road.
The New York State attorney general is even handing out fines for such underhanded practices as company owners hiring cheap overseas labor to write positive “reviews” of places they’ve never been, or asking their employees to give competitors’ companies bad reviews, or just writing (rave) reviews of their own establishments themselves.
Since surveys have shown that consumers place a high degree of trust in online customer reviews, it’s essential that they be as accurate and unbiased as possible.
With many baby boomers thinking of relocating upon retirement (and thousands are now reaching retirement age every day), I’d like to point out a website — called CityMove.com — that has figured out a system that virtually guarantees that all their customers’ reviews are legitimate.
At CityMove.com, people planning to move can post their moving job needs online for free; movers then bid against each other with quotes to do the job. It’s a kind of “reverse auction” in which movers typically try to underbid each other.
At the website, customers’ transactions with their chosen movers are completely transparent, in that the needs are posted online for all to see — while personal details remain hidden.
Only after a customer has chosen and paid a mover to perform a job is the customer then invited to write a review of the mover, which is made public on the website.
But before the review is posted, CityMove verifies the customer’s identity, IP and email addresses, the particular moving job they contracted, and any other pertinent information against the information that CityMove has in its files — so you know you’re reading about a real customer’s experience.
CityMove’s example, it seems to me, is a good one for other travel-related businesses to follow in ensuring the authenticity of their reviews. Right now, many review sites do essentially nothing to ensure authenticity, while others operate on an honor system that can’t be enforced.
CityMove’s system actually can be enforced — without a state attorney general having to step in to make sure the system is honest.
As CityMove notes on its website, such a review system allows customers “to benefit from each others’ moving experiences and have a forum to express their concerns, their praises, and their overall assessments of their movers, creating a community that monitors the quality of the movers.”
In turn, movers can learn from the mistakes that customers post and also establish a reputation for good work, if they deserve it. CityMove — which has itself been in business since 2003 — ranks top movers based on their performance reviews, for easy reference.
If you’re planning a move, I strongly recommend you check out this site.
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