Ripoff Report Verified Program

RipoffReport, which is one of the most popular review sites for posting customer complaints, has recently launched a program Screen shot 2013-07-20 at 11.47.27 AMcalled “Ripoff Report Verified,” that acts like an insurance policy that protects you from negative reviews being posted.

The new program will give businesses a chance to resolve disputes in 14 days before negative reviews are posted for $89 a month. I recently spoke to a Ripoff Report sales rep on the phone and had further email correspondence to get more details on the program.

To be accepted as a Verified business, your company should not have any prior reviews in Ripoff Report. Once a verified business gets any negative complaints, they would be alerted via email about the negative reviews and will be able to discuss a resolution with the person that left the negative reviews.

Anyone can post a review on Ripoff Report from a fake email address at this point in time, as Ripoff Report does not currently verify email addresses. But with the new Verified program, if the reviewer used a fake email address, you may be in luck. If the reviewer used a fake email, they will never see the resolution request. If there is no response, the negative review would never get posted.

However, as the Ripoff Report rep explained, if the reviewer responds and “If the business makes every reasonable effort to satisfy the complaining consumer, Ripoff Report is very successful in persuading a consumer to be satisfied.” So it seems that most likely they would not post the negative review if the business attempts to resolve the customer complaints!

Forbes recently published an article on Ripoff Report, quoting Ripoff Report owner Ed Magdeson, saying that they are using some outside sales firms to market this new product. He states that he is, “now in talks with several major credit card companies to market the service to their merchants, as well as four major auto related companies to put their dealers into the Verified directory.”
Pros and Cons

I have mixed feelings about this program. I hate to see Ripoff Report profiting from negative reviews, especially if they are fake.

On one hand, I see this program as a positive step for businesses that may be at risk of getting negative reviews.

However, the negative thing about it is that your company name will show up in Google associated with the words “Ripoff Report.” Some potential customers may not necessarily click to read the whole page and may assume you have bad reviews on Ripoff Report.

Before you engage in this program you should seriously consider the pros and cons.

However, I also feel that many companies would risk to lose a lot more if they do not obtain this insurance policy. SEO professionals, reputation management firms, or anyone who has any experience in how Ripoff Report works, knows how hard it is to prevent bad reviews on Ripoff Report from showing up on Google.

It is virtually impossible to remove Ripoff Report from Google. Once a review is listed, whether it is true or not, it will remain there forever. It may cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees and reputation management services to try and remove it, not to mention all the lost business you would have from the listing by the time it is removed.

To make matters worse, the removal efforts aren’t guaranteed and may also fail, depending on the capabilities of the reputation management firm you choose to hire. So you should decide for yourself if it is worth paying $1,080/year for this insurance policy.

I should make clear that Ripoff Report did not want me to refer to this program as an “insurance policy.” They told me that it is not an insurance policy, but rather a “customer service enhancement.”

As a reputation management consultant, my company has been threatened twice to be posted on Ripoff Report in the last month, only because my staff contacted some businesses listed on Ripoff Report to offer them help with removal services. One company thought we had something to do with the appearance of the negative posting and assumed that we were trying to extort money from them.

Unfortunately, some unethical reputation management companies may do such things. Forbes recently published an Article about this titled “The Dark Side of Reputation Management.”

Another company thought that we were trying to profit from his negative review that was hurting his business and was upset that we contacted him. He told us if we were so good we should drop the complete Ripoff Report site from Google!

It wasn’t until we made both companies understand that they would face a big business defamation lawsuit if they posted negative info about us online, they agreed not to post. In both incidents, I almost had a heart attack. It would be the worst thing for a reputation management company to be listed on Ripoff Report, so in some ways I am glad that they are offering this insurance policy and I am seriously considering signing up my own company.

noindex: Not an Option

Is there any way to place a noindex tag on the Verified business page so the listing would not show up in Google? Ripoff Report said that isn’t an option and it isn’t something they foresee implementing.

After reviewing a few currently listed businesses, I noticed that Ripoff Report allows the posting of direct links to the company’s websites and social media sites with dofollow tags, meaning the links will count as a vote in Google. With Ripoff Report having so much PageRank power, this may be a good thing.

Examples of Some Companies Using the Program

There are a couple of examples of companies that have engaged in the program.

Upon typing their name in Google, the Ripoff Report Verified listing appeared on the first page with the words “Verified Trusted Business” next to the first company’s name. However, the second company had slightly different text next to it: “Ripoff Report Verified.”