Don’t worry the headline to this blog item is about as accurate and informative as a real DailyMail headline but the news that the GoCompare adverts came out on top as the most complained about, to the Advertising Standards Agency is laughable, but also a poor reflection on the undercurrent to certain consumer actions in today’s “GoComplain, if you don’t get your own way” society and how this impacts online reputation management.
The remit of the Advertising Standards Agency is to protect consumers from unfair and/or misleading adverts, and not an X-Factor like competition to see which adverts are the least and best liked.
The ASA is there to protect consumers from adverts that bend the truth that much that they put consumers at a disadvantage, but the complaints directed at the GoCompare adverts, whilst actually getting great press for the GoCompare brand just shows how a certain dark element in consumer behaviour is growing more powerful and we need more than Yoda selling out to Vodaphone to challenge the Dark Side on this one.
It used to be the case that if you bought a product or service and you complained, it was with good reason and the goods were faulty or the service wasn’t fulfilled but with consumer review websites replacing the role of Trading Standards the whole objective and impartial nature of reviewing a grievance based on merit and fact has been removed and replaced by something far more sinister and the fact that the Advertising Standards Agency has likely been hijacked by a group of DailyMail readers to not complain because GoCompare have made misleading claims in their adverts, but to complain because they just didn’t like the advert is something that is very worrying. Where does this end?
You only have to look at TripAdvisor and see some of the ridiculous claims that are totally out of proportion to understand that to some serial complainers will rate a business poorly just because they can as they fancy themselves as a critic, instead of the customer they are and online reputation management is needed to address the balance.
Don’t get us wrong, as a company that provides online reputation management services yes we do get paid as a result of negative brand mentions appearing online but it is very frustrating to see that more often than not, the complainer has overreacted and blown the issue out of context in a bid to be more dramatic.
Consumer Review Websites feed the Dark Side
One thing to get straight is that we support the notion of Consumer Review websites, but lets face facts here, Consumer Review websites may like to think of themselves as champions of good customer service (like Which) but in reality they are websites that do not champion anything other than allowing consumer reviews which often include unregulated, unsubstantiated claims from people who may or may not even have used a given product, service or company, but nonetheless are allowed to write anything they wish about it, regardless of fact.
No one would argue that genuine honest reviews from genuine customers are arguably a good thing for consumers to have access to in order to determine the reputation of a business but quite often with negative reviews the words ‘honesty’ and ‘accuracy’ are seldom found and this can adversely and unfairly have a devastating impact on the online reputation management of a company.
You only have to look at the Google Adwords littering Consumer Review websites to understand the motives behind consumer review websites as regardless of the truth or merit behind the content on a given page, the intention of Consumer Review websites, like the DailyMail website, is to attract as many visitors as possible and once on the page, to click one of their adverts and make them money. Nothing more, nothing less.
The fact the government wants to cut costs further to Trading Standards (and likely phase it out) and let the Consumer Review websites fill the void scares the hell out of us and if you are a business owner or not, it should scare the hell out of you too as whilst consumer review websites have their place, and their problems, they are not a substitute for unbiased and independent assessors of a company and any complaints that may arise.
Edible is a Liverpool SEO & digital marketing agency offering services such as Online Reputation Management (ORM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Digital Content Creation in sectors ranging from Financial, Professional Sports, Home Interiors, Retail, Travel and more…