I wrote yesterday about receiving what I knew to be a deeply unfair one-star review on Google My Business. I knew it was unfair because I had advised the chap professionally and honestly.
I knew it was not the advice he wished to hear-that is, his position was such that he had no legal remedy open to him, save for raising a grievance in the workplace.
But just because I advise a person honestly and with competence should not mean that I as messenger should get shot, so to speak, with a 1-star review on Google My Business.
I had the opportunity to respond to the review, but this response would always have been tinged with the ‘when you are explaining you are losing’ argument. In other words, no matter how powerful my rebuttal was anyone reading it would always have a doubt in their mind that there was no smoke without fire, and so on.
So, I held off responding immediately. And I was delighted I did.
Firstly, I contacted Google and speculatively requested that they remove it, although I did not have high hopes for a positive outcome. They declined and I was not surprised.
However, in their email response to me they advised that I contact the reviewer directly. As a last resort, before launching into my own defence response, I contacted the reviewer who had been in email correspondence with me prior to our consultation.
And thankfully it worked spectacularly.
Not only did the reviewer accept that it was unfair and unjustified he changed the 1 star review to a 5 star one and even went so far as to buy my employment law book on Amazon.
This was a remarkable result, one which restored my faith in human nature. Because he had responded to my request for fairness, and that was how I had couched my initial email to him.
It was completely unexpected, but he explained that he was simply frustrated at the ‘law’ generally and what he felt was the futility of his situation, rather than any dissatisfaction with me or my service.
Perhaps I will have to reconsider my view that the Google review system is unfair.
But I have had reviews in the past from anonymous, untraceable users who have simply dropped a 1-star review with no comment to justify the review. And I have been completely helpless to do anything, not even rebut the review if no comment has been left and if I have no idea of who the reviewer is or what was their contact with me or the basis of the review, if any.
For this reason, I believe the system is still open to abuse by a disaffected or vindictive person who simply wants to inflict damage on any business and hid behind an anonymous email address and pen name.