Car dealers are being scammed because of their desire to catch up with the Internet Reputation Management (IRM) bandwagon.
The scam I am speaking of involves companies telling dealers that they will "post" reviews for the dealership as a paid service.
Whether these reviews are fabricated or actual comments from customer emails, in-store surveys, or phone surveys will vary from case to case.
In any case, Google Places is designed for a person, not an agent, to post a review about their experience with a business listed on Google Places. For many dealers, their reviews on Google Places are accurate but a growing number of dealers I test are being sucked into this dangerous scam.
Take a look at these actual reviews from a dealer in New York:
The review above from Kelly may look authentic, until you click on Kelly's Google Profile. That hyperlink on her name displays this activity on Google Places:
Kelly has been busy posting reviews for a number of stores in New York. Obviously this is an agent working for a review posting company and not a single person who buys dozens of cars a day.
It is bad on a number of fronts. First and foremost, it places your Google Places account in jeopardy of being delisted. In one case I personally know, the dealership main URL was demoted to Google Page 3, as a punishment!
Secondly, it invites consumers or competitors to make consumers aware of the fake reviews. Take a peek at this post by a consumer who figured out the dealer was using a posting service:
Once your online reputation and credibility is damaged, it is very hard to recover. There is NO REASON why a dealer should not be able to get 10-20% of their happy customers to post a review on Google Places when they are at the dealership.
There is no excuse to put your online reputation at risk. It is short sighted and dangerous. Please take a minute to MAKE SURE that your store, and any store in your organization has not hired this type of company. Click on the user profiles of the reviewer, and make sure they are not part of an IRM company that violates Google TOS.
See you at DMSC and NADA next week!
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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