Unscrupulous builders are scamming online find-a-trader platforms by bribing customers to post fake reviews, a web site owner claims.
Even though thousands of home owners rely on honest review sites when making a choice about which tradesmen to hire, customers are offered cash discounts to post favourable reviews of their work.
The revelation comes from Tarquin Purdie, owner of online platform HaMuch.com, which tracks the costs tradesmen charge for a range of jobs.
“The review system has become a sort of two-way intimidation,” he said. “Builders pressure customers to leave a good review and even offer cash discounts as a part of this. Customers ask tradesmen to include extras, endlessly snag or offer heavy discounts before agreeing to leave good feedback.
Ruined by a bad review
“A good tradesman can be ruined by one bad review, but a poor one can just bribe their way to positive feedback. It has become a bad joke. And one that many of these companies profit from. It’s time for homeowners and tradesmen to leave them behind.”
“Although tradesmen are paying a lot to be a part of it, the problem is that there is no real way of checking that the work has been done, if it is any good and whether bad reviews have been removed at the request of tradesmen, who are the paying customer for review companies.
“To be effective, the system requires a regulator, although I’m not sure these companies would be willing to stump up for that. False reviews are like fake news, but no one is taking any action to either regulate or clean up the sizeable builder review industry.”
Sex and drugs gangs rent hundreds of homes
Police are warning sex and drug gangs are switching hundreds of buy to let homes to pop-up brothels and cannabis farms.
One offender recently before Birmingham Crown Court admitted renting nearly 450 homes with false passports and identification documents for the gangs.
“Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking remains one of our highest priorities, but we still need the public to help, be our eyes and ears and alert us to activity in their communities that may be concerning them,” said National Crime Agency branch commander Matt Rivers.