TripAdvisor tries to tackle fraud, too little too late!

imageIn an unprecedented move, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer wrote to millions of TripAdvisor properties today, to warn them against falling for fraudulent requests for payment to businesses offering them the placement of positive reviews, or the removal of negative TripAdvisor reviews. Even worse is that some of these bogus companies claim to have an official relationship with TripAdvisor!

For years we have received continuous emails offering SEO search engine optimisation services, but we have never seen these linked to TripAdvisor. The CEO warned: ‘These groups are known as optimisation companies and their practices are wholly contrary to the spirit and terms of our site, are unethical and often against the law. We believe these optimisation companies pose a risk to millions of legitimate, honest hospitality businesses around the world. To be absolutely clear, no optimisation company is or will ever be affiliated with TripAdvisor, and the practice of submitting any content that is not genuine and from travellers goes against everything we stand for as a company. Our entire Content Integrity Team is dedicated to ensuring that all properties on TripAdvisor compete on a level playing field, driven solely by the services they provide to our travelers‘.

Once again, given how many of such emails we have received over the years, almost daily, it is a surprise that TripAdvisor has taken so long to promise action against such bogus companies! Kaufer added: ‘TripAdvisor will take the strongest action possible against these firms, as well as any property attempting to engage with these companies to distort the content available on TripAdvisor. It is common that owners have reported that once they engaged with these types of companies, they have been subjected to blackmail, extortion and financial fraud when they have tried to disengage from their services. Once you violate the law, you no longer have the protection of it – and the unscrupulous individuals involved in the optimisation industry know it’.

Obviously aimed at warning hospitality businesses to not deal with such bogus optimisation businesses, Kaufer warns: ‘The good news is that we’re very effective at catching them. Our investigation team uses advanced technology and investigation techniques similar to those used in the banking and finance industries to track the activity of optimisation companies all across the globe. TripAdvisor has a zero tolerance for fraud, in fact; so far in 2015 we identified, investigated and shut down more than 30 optimisation sites, and will continue to pursue these companies until they are no longer a risk to our community‘.

Using language that reminds one of the promises made by such bogus optimization companies, Kaufer writes: ‘We are tireless in our efforts because we know that, like us, most hospitality business owners want a clean system that allows every business to compete fairly. But we also know that with your help, we could be even more effective in shutting-down these businesses. This is where you come in’.

If you have been approached or contacted by a company offering to boost your ranking, provide content or reviews to your listing or any activity that would violate TripAdvisor’s policies, we would like to hear from you. Any information you provide, no matter how minor, can assist us in our investigations. All reports should be made to our Content Integrity team and will be investigated and kept confidential. With your help, we can continue to improve the service TripAdvisor provides to travelers‘, added Kaufer.

Whilst TripAdvisor sounds caring in sending the email, it has little credibility in waiting so many years to clean up its site and remove fraudulent reviews, something we and many others have written about for years! One can ask why only now TripAdvisor?!

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog  Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here

2 replies on “TripAdvisor tries to tackle fraud, too little too late!”

  1. Hi Nick

    You cannot have read this blogpost before shooting off your comment!

  2. Marthelize Tredoux, aka ‘Steve Harpoon’

    Silly to not disguise your email address! Will send your disparaging comment to your employer!!!!!!

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