RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Here’s proof you can’t always trust those online reviews. 8News has confirmed some of those rave reviews for a troubled local online retailer, Sneak Foot, were fake.
Hundreds have complained about the site Sneakfoot.com. Sneak Foot claims to sell brand-name sneakers and purses at discounted prices.
8News has exposed the online shop is linked to a Henrico resident named Justin Godsey. Customers claim their orders never arrived and they’re out thousands of dollars. Yet, if you checked the reviews, you would think the company had nothing but happy customers.
On the consumer review site Trustpilot, you would find reviews that read “Excellent customer service,” or others that state, “Satisfied and just placed another 3 orders.”
Trustpilot is the very same website Godsey, who 8News has connected to the online business, told 8News to check out when we questioned him about orders that never arrived.
“I haven’t seen these issues. The company has really good reviews on Trustpilot,” Godsey said.
Trustpilot confirmed to 8News their investigations team has “found evidence of fabricated reviews.” The company says they’ve taken down all suspected fake reviews. Online consumers will now find an alert from Trustpilot warning, “We’re currently investigating this company.” The alert goes on to say, “We have sent a formal cease and desist notice to this business regarding fabricated reviews.”
8News first became suspicious of those positive Sneak Foot reviews after dozens of customers like Krishna Mehra said they would post about their negative experience but the posts were removed. “We also leave a lot of posts on Trustpilot,” he told 8News. “They would either delete our posts or they just stop responding.”
We got even more suspicious when half a dozen new posts singing the praises of Sneak Foot suddenly appeared on Trustpilot just hours after our last report. It was an investigation exposing Sneak Foot was originally another troubled online shop called Godsey Supply LLC. State records confirm that the business was operated by Godsey.
Customers like Shannon Quadros also questioned the star-studded rating of Sneak Foot, a retailer the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about.
“Even after everything happened, they have a 4 plus rating on Trustpilot,” said Quadros.
8News reached out to Trustpilot about these concerns. Their team took a closer look and the Sneak Foot profile page is now closed for new reviews. 8News asked about those claims of removing negative posts.
Trustpilot told us in a statement: “Businesses are not able to remove reviews on the Trustpilot platform, whether paying or using the service for free – and flagged reviews remain on the site whilst Trustpilot’s Content Integrity and Investigations teams assess them. Reviews are only taken offline once they’ve gone through this process. However, reviews taken offline are never deleted and can always be reinstated, should the correct information be provided or change reflected.”
8News was also told, “if a business, or consumer, comes across a review that isn’t in line with our guidelines they can always flag it to our Content Integrity Team, which will investigate.”
According to Trustpilot’s terms of service for reviewers, if reviews are threatening, could damage the reputation of a person or cause financial loss to a business, they could be removed.