Travellerspoint looking after the money or the traveller??

Travel Forums Off Topic Travellerspoint looking after the money or the traveller??

1. Posted by wambam (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I recently stayed in accommodation in the UK that was absolute hell. As well as appauling conditions, trying to take our money and not give us a room, denying they took our money and blocking our only fire exit with a mattress they also ran a very dirty hostel (I won't name it here because I don't want to be accused of sneaking in a review, I'm just explaining my situation).

I was concerned that this place would be able to continue to take people's money and offer them the same diabolical experience which seemed very unfair to me. Then it dawned on me, join one of the travelling websites and place a quick review alongside it warning others of what to really expect.

I came to and found they advertised this particular hostel, they take bookings for it and I suspect through that they make money in doing so. Sadly their description of the place doesn't warn you about all the problems I placed in my review and leaves people booking through this site wide open to being exposed to the same horrors that I was. I also noticed that there was already one negative review against it from another person. I wrote my review and kept it factual baesd on my own experience. I then went to bed in the hope that I'd saved a couple of fellow travelers from having a nightmare experience, however this was not the case.

I logged on to this site the next day and found to my surprise that my negative review of the hostel had been removed. Completely vanished. More to the point, so had the other negative review of the hostel and in their place were two positive reviews. Very strange that in the space of one night two negatives would be removed and out of the blue two random people would write a couple of positive reviews!

Putting this down to an incredible coincidence I wrote another review. However again, within a few hours it was removed! No matter how much I tried I couldn't get a negative review to stay on this site.

Today I received a message from Sam Daams who appears to be part of the admin team here. He stated my reviews had been removed and any further reviews would also be removed accusing me of having an axe to grind with the hostel. I obviously don't have an axe to grind as I've completely left out the name of the place in this post and not even put the city down which I would do if I had an axe to grind.

The whole thing seems very odd. Why would the admin here be so keen to protect a hostel that they take bookings for on their website? The only thing I can think is that if the hostel has only a couple of negative reviews then people won't book in to it and this site could loose revenue. While I understand it's a business and has costs etc. it seems worrying that a site that appears to be here to benefit travellers actually puts those people to one side when truthful accounts are written on their site that could reduce the number of bookings to one of it's clients. Is it a case of profit before the users?

I suspect that sadly this post will also be deleted at some point because over agressive censorship appears to be a theme I'm starting to spot here, but we'll see. Just be mindful when you read reviews on this site because I can testify that one hostel on here has been edited by the admin to look a lot better than it actually is and they won't permit me to warn others about it!

2. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5586 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I'm glad you posted this publicly so we can clear this up.

Your review was what we call 'untrusted', meaning that we have no way of verifying your story, or for example whether you work for the competing hostel up the road, or are just out to damage a property's reputation (whether rightfully or not). The fact that two reviews appeared within hours of each other and were both nearly identical is a big warning flag (and as you've confirmed, it was from another person in the same party). You neglected to mention that the two positive reviews were also removed though, for the very same reason. We are significantly more careful about allowing reviews that are incredibly negative, because there are laws in place in countries we operate in that we have to respect. You might not know this, but there are a number of review sites which allow 'untrusted' reviews to be posted involved in legal action, for the very reason that it's estimated 50% + reviews on those sites are fake. If you've ever been to sites that will take any old review you will probably have noticed that it makes it impossible to make a choice about a property. There are x negative reviews (competing property), cancelled out by x positve reviews (property owner). In addition the review pages are plastered with disclaimers to take all the reviews with a grain of salt, making the whole concept of a review totally and utterly worthless in our opinion.

So, as we actually want our reviews to be useful for our users and really help them make the best decision on what properties are like, we take the high and trusted road, where we know that reviews we leave up are going to be legit 90%+ of the time. We also source reviews from two other sites, both of these only allow reviews by folks that have booked through them.

It might very well be that your review is legit, and that's the downside of our system. A few valid reviews might not get through, both positive and negative ones. But that's typically a very short term downside, as the systems we source reviews from process a few hundred thousand bookings per month. So within weeks either we, or one of our two partners, will have what we know to be trusted reviews for the same property and those will show. The upside of this temporary downside is that if we get 2 really negative reviews/complaints through these sources, the property can also be inactivated/removed permanently. In other words, booking over the internet has its advantages in ensuring properties standards are as good as they say. I've personally had dozens of properties removed based on complaints from clients.

Also, you might want to be more careful what you write about companies on the web. There are laws, especially in the UK, against libel and slander. Your post above could be read as such as quite frankly, it's ludicrous to suggest that we removed your review from a financial point of view. What's best for us financially is, and always has been, making sure our users get what they expect. Leaving up crap properties would just hurt us. Now we're not the kind of folks that are too worried about your post as we're small and happy to respond in person, but you can bet that other companies would have no problem suing (and winning) a court case against you for this.

So in essence, our policy is real reviews that can be trusted are always left up (assuming the traveller has actually stayed at the place). Untrusted reviews are monitored carefully for being either overly positive or overly negative, how many reviews are added in what time frame, and as a last resort patterns illustrating similar ip addresses used for posting reviews.

I'm sorry if you feel this is a harsh stance to take, but we believe users are better served being able to trust the reviews they read so they can make a well informed decision. And yes, we know some other sites don't care. We believe in the long run users will foresake those sites for sites that they can trust.