The Mystery Of The 1 Star Trustpilot Reviews

The Mystery Of The 1 Star Trustpilot Reviews

Loquax has been listed on popular review site Trustpilot for numerous years. Despite this we’ve never sought reviews from users or publicised that we were there. It’s not a platform that we particularly like or felt was worth our time. So it was a bit of a surprise to get a notification from Trustpilot on the evening of Thursday that ironically “Mr Happy” had created a review of Loquax. Accompanying the 1/5 rating was the following “The company is putting competitions on their site that do not exist. They even ask you to spend money with them…but for what. Maybe a scam site. Seems to be going for years but not many followers. That says it all. Anyone that wastes time registering must be Quackers“. Anyone who’s used Loquax over the years – whether they like it or not – probably can spot the multiple levels of rubbish in this particular missive. We therefore flagged this with Trustpilot as not being from a genuine user. Their fraud detection software disagreed and that “Mr Happy” who provided their name as a popular James Bond villain was genuine. So we re-flagged the review as defamatory. How can a site that doesn’t have any way of accepting payments ask anyone to spend money with them? Surely Trustpilot would see this and remove it? Whilst we waited for Trustpilot to do their thing we were left wondering who would write a review like this?

UK Car Park Management Is The Key

After 26 years online it’s inevitable that some people aren’t going to like what you do. Furthermore if you ban users or siteowners from using a free site that they feel entitled to use then that can cause issues. However despite a few rocky moments over the years we’ve never encountered this kind of scenario. But we had an inkling about who it could be but little evidence to go on! And then we got a second 1/5 review. At 9.50pm on Friday 26th April “Jon Jameson” left the following on Trustpilot: “Difficult to navigate around site and some competitions do not even exist when click on link. Not a good site to find competitions“. What are the chances of two different reviewers giving us 1/5 with 24 hours of each and both raising a point of “competitions do not even exist”. From this we can conclude it’s possibly the same person – but there’s more. When we looked at other reviews from “Mr Happy” and “Jon Jameson” we noted something quite interesting. Both had given 1/5 reviews to Northern Competitions and both had given 1/5 reviews to UK Car Park Management. The reviews for the latter were published within 13 days of each other in 2022. What are the chances of the same people giving us 1/5 stars also having issues with UK Car Park Management and a valid permit around the same time frame in 2022. We raised this with Trustpilot. Apparently this is insufficient evidence to link the two reviewers.

The Prime Suspect

Our prime suspect in this particular case is a siteowner of a pay to enter prize draw site that we outed as running questionable competitions in a recent blog post. These 1/5 reviews for Loquax only started after his own site had a scathing 1/5 review posted on Trustpilot. That review has similar findings to our own blog but we didn’t write the review. Now we know the address of the siteowner because it’s on their website. We also know they live in a block of flats, perhaps flats that have issues with parking permits? Who knows? Anyway up to 3pm on Saturday 28th April the only people who knew about the reviews were myself and Kirsty and obviously anyone visiting Loquax from Trustpilot. We’ve checked our logs from Thursday and Friday and had no referrals but then on Saturday we got a bite. When you visit Loquax certain details are logged and cross-referenced with previous visits. Let’s have another round of “what are the chances”! At just after 2.16pm we received notice from Trustpilot that “Mr Happy” had amended their review – then some time later our logs recorded the following IP address visiting from Trustpilot.

When we cross-referenced this IP address with our users we found the following

As our American friends would say “you do the math”!

Enter Joe Into The Fray

So to recap – at this point we’ve had two 1/5 reviews within 24 hours after never having any reviews at all. There are reviews from other brands which link these two accounts to suggest they’re the same person plus our logs have put our prime suspect on deck. These reviews only started after a 1/5 review on his own brand rather than a few weeks back when numerous accounts were banned from Loquax because we felt the site had numerous issues. Of course this could all be coincidental but if it looks like a pig and oinks like a pig it’s probably a pay to enter prize draw site that runs bogus giveaways! Anyway it seems that 1/5 reviews are like buses because a third one showed up this time from “Joe” just before 5pm on Saturday 28th who said “Difficult navigating around the site and some competitions are finished. Not recommended if you want to find good competitions”. “Joe” was obviously lacking any kind of inspiration and pretty much reworded the review by “Jon Jameson”. Oh by the way one of the Loquax accounts we banned from our suspect has an email address with the name “Jonathan James”. Another coincidence! Anyway we can summise that “Joe” is in fact “Jon” and we’ve already shown that “Jon” is quite likely “Mr Happy”. We’ve raised this with Trustpilot’s Content Integrity team as well as sharing more than what we’ve shown here. Frustratingly dealing with Trustpilot is just frustrating. Someone writes a negative and defamatory comment and the onus of truth falls on the brand to prove they’re being malicious rather than having had a genuine user experience. Their only real support is that you reply to the review – so we replied!

The reply may have hit a nerve or two or Trustpilot actually did some moderation but reviews from “Joe” and “Jon Jameson” disappeared. By this point though we took the decision to share what was happening on our forum. What happened next was amazing!

5 Star Reviews

It would have been easy for us to ask for reviews to counter the nonsense posted by Mr Happy et al but all we wanted to do was vent our feelings. However a number of users – and to be honest we’ve forgotten just how many of you have been with us for so long – decided to leave their own reviews. Genuinely myself and Kirsty can’t thank you enough for doing this. It’s been lovely to see and read the comments. Anyway these reviews obviously irked someone on Sunday 29th April 2024 because guess what!? Yes we got more 1/5s. Firstly “Jon Jameson” tried again with “Competititions not updated and some competitions already finished although still listed” although that review vanished. Later in the day “Peter” entered the fray with his first ever review “Not a variety of competitions on this website. Also other reviews seem suspicious as they all seem to be worded the same and 12 reviews in 1 day and before that it was zero in 20 years. Something fishy“. The only thing fishy is a first time reviewer jumping to conclusions when the only reason reviews have appeared is because someone decided to post 1/5 reviews under several accounts. We think “Peter” should find a mirror to determine the cause of all this excitement.

So Where Are We Now?

At time of writing Loquax currently has a whole bunch of 5/5 reviews and two 1/5 reviews from “Mr Happy” and “Peter”. We have several tickets in with Trustpilot but have little faith in their Content Integrity team. Given that “Mr Happy’s” details don’t match any user on Loquax, seems like he’s reviewing a completely different site and provides a Bond Villain’s name when asked for information and yet Trustpilot say that’s OK doesn’t give us much faith in their service. This blog is not only to explain what’s happened and who we believe is behind it but also show that Trustpilot as a service is poor. After 26 years we’ve seen a lot online and to be fair nothing really phases us. One thousand bad reviews from the same person doesn’t change our history, what we do or how we work. But other brands might not be as resiliant, especially those who are genuine and need to take payments to thrive. Trustpilot’s set up puts brands in the dock and immediately dictates they’re guilty with little or no recourse otherwise – even when they’re presented with information like that above. We have had some replies from Trustpilot but it just feels like a “computer says no” type reply rather than any empathy or understanding. We can only wait for someone to take a closer look at these events. However in the meantime we have made a change to how people review us on Trustpilot as you’re now asked for your Loquax username. That way we can have faith in people providing reviews about the site whether they’re negative or positive. Although if you do believe we’re a 1/5 star site and have an issue at least contact us first so we can see if we can help.

1st May 2024 Update

Today we were notified by Trustpilot that they’d removed the review by ‘Mr Happy’. Whilst we’re happy with this outcome it should be noted that this only arose after a number of emails to and fro with Content Integrity. We told that they had double checked the case and had investigated the relationship between the various 1/5 reviews but felt the first review was a fair and genuine experience (even though we rightly argued it was factually impossible to be correct). Trustpilot did tell us they removed the ‘Jon Jameson’ review due to fraud. We then argued that if that review was fraudulent then as we could link ‘Mr Happy’, ‘Jon Jameson’ and ‘Joe’ then that suggests malicious activity. We also suggested that Trustpilot investigate these accounts. This morning we were told “The decision to keep the review online has been revised. We appreciate your sending the attached screenshots, I’m glad to let you know that we took a deep dive into all the information you provided as well as the reviewer’s behavior on our system and came to the conclusion to take the review down from your profile page as it contravenes our guidelines for reviewers“. It’ll be fascinating to know whether that deep dive actually occurred or if Content Integrity just got fed up of our emails!

The Return Of Mr Happy

Just when you thought it was safe to go back online!! Yes Mr Happy has returned to Trustpilot and given us another 1/5 star review. This time he says “Competitions on the site are outdated and navigating around site poor” which uncannily seems to be along the lines of his alter-egos of “Joe” and “Jon Jameson”. We’ve followed Trustpilot procedure and asked for proof of identity and since the time we last did it for the first review “Mr Happy” has not only changed his mobile number but also his name. Quite remarkable. We have now flagged to Content Integrity who hopefully are as equally bemused by this level of playground behaviour but in the mean time we did reply with “Thanks for your second review of Loquax. Your first was removed as it contravened Trustpilot terms whilst your reviews as “Jon Jameson” were deemed fraudulent. I think that’s all we need to say about this“. However next time we might opt for the remark made by one of our users “You’d think with all these thousands and thousands of entrants he was getting for his raffles he would be busy with admin“. That’s so spot on! If I ran a site that could sell out a competition offering 4 x £50K I wouldn’t be skulking around Trustpilot under different names. Still everyone needs a hobby.

2nd May 2024 Update

Mr Happy won’t be feeling very happy as his return was shortlived. Trustpilot notified us this morning that the review was removed. Let’s see what happens next… some time later… well we didn’t expect to happen next was the first and second ‘Mr Happy’ reviews to be reinstated. Despite agreeing that reviews by “Joe” and “Jon Jameson” were fabricated, the guy from Content Integrity also decided “the decision taken to remove them wasn’t right”. This was despite just 24hr earlier his colleague had concluded the person’s actions (who was behind all reviews) contravened their guidelines for reviewers. So we now have Content Integrity suggesting that making reviews with fake details under multiple aliases is fine even though they’ve agreed that some of those aliases were also fraudulent. We guess this story hasn’t quite concluded yet.

The Mystery Of Jonathan James

Thanks to Guy for spotting this one! So one of our 1/5 reviewers was called “Jon Jameson” who turned out to be fake and according to Trustpilot on the same IP address as “Mr Happy”. And whilst looking at the various accounts Mr Countdown Competitions had set up on Loquax we found one with an email address with the name “Jonathan James”. Not identical but fairly similar in nature. We can link the “Jonathan James” account on Loquax to the various other accounts set-up by the owner of Countdown Competitions. Now what if one of the winners of a recent instant win element on Countdown Competitions happened to also be called “Jonathan James” – no!!! Surely too much of a coincidence.

9th May 2024 Update

After multiple emails to and from Trustpilot’s Content Integrity team it seems that our definition of the term integrity somewhat differs to their version. What we can determine is that it’s OK for someone to set about gaming their system by writing several 1/5 reviews about a brand. Whilst they may (eventually and some prodding) spot some duplicity they will allow any reviews that at least appear genuine. Even if those reviews have been made the same person who set about to create several 1/5 reviews in the first place. A publisher can ask any reviewer for information to support their review but the reviewer is welcome to return any details they like. In fact they can reply with different details for different reviews by the same person. This, according to Trustpilot, doesn’t mean the reviewer isn’t being genuine. In short you can lie in a review, you can call a brand a “scam”, you can give false information to the brand, you can attempt to write other fake reviews, and you can attempt to defame a brand and that’s OK behaviour. On the flipside if a publisher demonstrates the deceit, lies and underhandedness in play that’s still not enough. So some frustration but let’s not overlook the overall score here. The owner of Countdown Competitions tried to attack us and the result is 3 x 1/5 reviews more than likely written by the same person. They’ll stay as testament to how we ended up on Trustpilot and to demonstrate the trsutworthiness of the other site involved. Oh and of course there’s now 75 x 5/5 reviews which gives us quite a decent rating. Every cloud and all that!


Losing Your Comping Mojo

For every newspaper article showing a Queen of Competitions there are plenty more compers who struggle day to day for any kind of win.