Edmunds.com has field a lawsuit against online reputation management company Humankind Design Ltd. for allegedly posting and attempting to post fraudulent consumer reviews on its site.
Humankind Design Ltd., out of Friendswood, Texas, helps companies with reputation management. According to its web site, the business can help improve Google and Bing results by pushing down the bad reviews with good ones.
According to Edmunds.com, Humankind Design Ltd. attempted to register almost 2,200 fake members on the Edmunds.com site and on behalf of 25 car dealers. Edmunds claims that Humankind Design Ltd. attempted to post its first fake review on January 22, 2013 and, in early March, Edmunds.com employees monitoring the reviews identified a large number of registrations that were generating reviews that were not real and traced those reviews back to Humankind.
Apparently, anyone posting a review on Edmunds.com is required to first agree to its membership agreement. This membership agreement forbids the use of profanity and posting anything that isn't based on the poster's personal knowledge. Members also agree to only register once under a single name, and not to register under another person's name or to chose a user name designed to deceive or mislead.
Justin Anderson, owner of Humankind, reportedly denied that the company is posting fraudulent reviews online. However, he admitted that the company does post comment cards that its dealership clients send them.
The alleged actions of Humankind Design Ltd. certainly makes one weary of relying on online reviews. However, you should still consult online reviews of a local car dealership before purchasing a car. This is especially true when purchasing a used car. However, where you see negative reviews, be weary of similarly worded positive reviews that crop up around the same time-- there is nothing stopping a car dealership from posting "bogus" positive reviews in response to negative ones. And, apparently, there is nothing stopping a car dealer from hiring someone else to do their dirty work.
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running