Trustpilot: Censorship and Corrupt Practices Disguised as Trust

trustpilot not trustworthy

A critical analysis of this company from the perspective of a user and of a potential customer

The writer of this article has personally been using Trustpilot as a reviewer for about a decade.
Suddenly, in January 2024, I saw my account banned without appeal, coincidentally after leaving a critical review on a major telephone company, which uses Trustpilot’s paid services.
All lost. Dozens of reviews, positive and negative, some of them with thousands of reads and endorsements from other users.
I didn’t even receive a notification regarding my account closure and found out myself weeks later when trying to access it to leave a review.

For what reason? Impossible to know.

Inconclusive, Frustrating Communication

Indeed, my email complaints were to no avail. The impression, almost a certainty at this point, is that I was dealing not with people, but with bots that responded automatically with pre-filled, repetitive emails in which it was basically reiterated that Trustpilot carefully examines each review and when it finds something anomalous, it takes action.

The curious thing is that even though they were software, It took them exactly three days to reply, perhaps to give the impression that a real person had bothered to review my request before answering. I have sent at least 4 different emails asking the same question (What is the specific reason for the ban?), and each time they would respond three days later by repeating the same pointless prepackaged message.

Let’s assume that I wrote an illegitimate review according to Trustpilot’s criteria (even if I don’t think so): is it really necessary to delete an entire account for this reason?

Another Even More Absurd Experience

As if this unpleasant personal experience was not enough, the webmaster of personality-tests-online.com himself reported to me, a few months after the episode I have just described, that he ran into an even more absurd problem when he tried to open a paid plan for his website. This happened in March 2024. During the process of registering the website on Trustpilot, an error message appeared, specifying that the website could not be accepted on Trustpilot, but without specifying why.

trustpilot banning websites for no real reason

Some kind of preemptive ban for no apparent reason.

The webmaster found it very strange. A newly started website already banned on Trustpilot? Even before anyone could submit it? All he could do at that point was trying to get in touch with their staff. Bad idea!

Automated and Unresponsive Replies

So even the unfortunate webmaster, like myself, tried to contact Trustpilot support to find out the reasons behind this unusual block, specifying that it was his intention to open a paid plan for Personality Tests Online, a newly created and therefore still little-known website. At this point the odyssey of pre-filled responses began for him as well. Almost identical messages, one after another, repeating the same thing, namely that the website violated Trustpilot’s code of ethics and therefore could not be accepted. The webmaster reported to me that he had the feeling that he was dealing with some kind of automaton which did not understand his requests and responded mechanically, exactly as happened to me.

This is what happens if you search for personality-tests-online.com on Trustpilot:

example of website banned from trustpilot
Continuing with the story. You never know, maybe you did something wrong without realizing it. So let’s ask them a precise question: what rule of the code of ethics is being violated by the website personality-tests-online.com? The subsequent response, sent as always three days later, parroted the usual rant about the importance of ethics and blah blah, but added a valuable piece of information: the reason for the ban is at Trustpilot’s discretion and cannot be disclosed!

What!? Seriously?? Top secret stuff, uh??

Let’s ask them the same question for the umpteenth time, then. Here is their last message before the webmaster decided to give up on this impossible mission.

trustpilot absurd bad-fit policy

Incredible. They were able to write an entire email without saying anything. They did not mention the name or address of the website that was subject of the inquiry, they did not answer the question itself, but in return they ranted about a hypothetical account linked to Personality Tests Online’s email address. No idea what they are talking about, since they never allowed us to register the website with their portal. Probably they don’t know what they are talking about either.
OK, that’s enough, you won big time!

Time For a Little Recap:

1) They first accuse you of violating ethical norms by insinuating that your business carries out illegal practices (possible defamation?);
2) Then, when asked about what regulation specifically has been violated, they tell you that you don’t deserve knowing it;
3) If you demand to speak to a real person who can understand your question, they simply mark your ticket as closed;
4) If you insist, they start giving delirious answers that have nothing to do with your request.

Let’s Try a Quick Online Research and See What Happens

At this point, intrigued by the fact that another person close to me had also been treated in this disrespectful and superficial way by a large and reputable company like Trustpilot, I did an online research with the goal of unearthing the opinions and experiences of other users.

Bang!

I found literally thousands of negative comments and reviews.
People are complaining about Trustpilot’s treatment within discussion forums, social networks, through blog comments and even on Trustpilot’s website.
In fact, it seems that Trustpilot, while removing most of the negative comments, lets a few more slide, perhaps in an attempt to appear open to criticism and impartial.

Here are some recent comments on Trustpilot collected directly on their portal:

trustpilot negative review removed 1 trustpilot negative review removed 2 trustpilot negative review removed 3 trustpilot negative review removed 4

The Disappointing Truth about Trustpilot’s Practices

Two glaring facts stand out from all these comments written by disappointed and angry users:
1) Trustpilot deletes negative reviews of paying companies
2) Trustpilot leaves the fictitious positive reviews intact

About point number 1, it should be specified that Trustpilot pretends to care about the authenticity of negative reviews, and before deleting them they send an email alert to the user asking for more information about their review. Unfortunately, no matter what the user responds, their review will still be deleted within a few days. I can personally testify to this fact having run into this issue at least a couple of times over the years.

Regarding point number 2, in addition to users’ personal experiences, there are actual online services that allow people to buy positive reviews for their company on Trustpilot, confirming people’s allegations. Here are some names for those who want to delve into this murky world: useviral.com, sidesmedia.com, growthoid.com.

Positive and Negative Reviews: Two Different Standards

While negative reviews are removed when paying companies request it, the same does not happen with blatantly false positive reviews. Would you have guessed?
Scouting out fake positive reviews is fairly easy, since they are all extremely similar. They never mention the name of the company being reviewed, they do not go into the specifics of the product or service purchased, and they simply make a general type of enthusiastic comment. They could apply to anything, so they offer no added value toward the item, service or vendor in question.

Some examples of fake positive reviews:

trustpilot fake positive pointless review 1 trustpilot fake positive pointless review 2 trustpilot fake positive pointless review 3

The Number of Stars Goes Back Up Quickly….

This mechanism causes the average scores of paying companies to be much higher than non-paying ones, in fact when the score gets too low Trustpilot intervenes by cleaning up the negative comments and bringing the average back to the previous level.

That’s a somewhat questionable business strategy that also incentivizes non-paying companies to open a paid plan in order to gain control over negative reviews.

Does it sound like a fair practice to you?

Perhaps the paying companies like it, but the end user who trusts the ratings found on Trustpilot is being blatantly cheated, to say the least.
In this way, the risk of relying on dubious companies increases exponentially, going, at the same time, to tarnish the image of perhaps more modest and lesser-known companies that have nothing to hide. These smaller companies, by finding themselves on Trustpilot, run the risk of being associated with the shady behavior carried out by the review giant.

Talking About Ethics and Transparency, but It’s Just a Facade

My personal episode, plus that of the webmaster, plus all those recounted by online users, confirm that Trustpilot operates by following logics bordering on legality and certainly unethical, while continuously blathering about ethics in its automatic, pre-filled responses. On its website, Trustpilot also write about transparency and how fundamental it is in their business model. Take a look below.

trustpilot transaprency policy disregarded

Not in our case, though! However, they did not allow us to open a paid account with them, otherwise we would have thrown away our money unnecessarily and associated the name of our business with a company that operates without any respect for its own users, whether they are mere reviewers or potentially paying companies.

Something Positive Out of This Horror Story

We hope that our paradoxical experience with Trustpilot will be helpful to other people. We are actually glad to have had these negative experiences, because without them we would not have had the desire to investigate until we discovered the sad truth behind Trustpilot. Knowledge is power, after all.

Our advice is not to trust the reviews on this portal and to avoid it altogether if possible.
Reviews of companies, especially paying ones, are heavily influenced by the ability to censor negative ones and buy positive ones.
Then there is the total lack of respect for users, which is absolutely unacceptable from a company that prides itself on its code of ethics, not to mention the fact that it is virtually impossible to communicate with a human being in case of need.

In Conclusion

Trustpilot is a famous online review portal that has proven over time to be untrustworthy for several reasons, including:
1. The removal of negative reviews even if they are genuine
2. A high tolerance for fictitious positive reviews
3. The sudden termination of accounts even after years of trouble-free use
4. The consequent loss of all published reviews and the inability to appeal
5. The banning of certain websites and businesses without an explicit reason (‘bad fit’, as they say)
6. An absolute lack of genuine assistance in favor of pre-filled, machine-translated and often useless responses

Respect toward review writers is not a priority, while potential paying customers are treated just as superficially by ignoring their questions and needs. As if this were not enough, company ratings are manipulated and unreliable, thus making the very meaning of this service totally pointless from a consumer’s point of view.

In order to be completely honest, we would like to add one last thing: if Trustpilot is so popular and used worldwide, it certainly has useful features, however, our personal experiences and those gathered online convey an image of untrustworthiness and unfairness about this review portal.

Mental Age Test


Posted on April 15 2024 by Margaret B.
I am an external contributor of Personality Tests Online, helping them with content development. I want to thank the webmaster for giving me the opportunity to publish this article here.