Whether you’re a consumer wanting to read some reviews before you buy from a company for the first time or a business hoping to create a bigger online presence, Trustpilot may be worth checking out.
Recently, Team Clark looked into Trustpilot to see if you can trust the reviews you’ll find there and to get an idea of how the website may help businesses. In this article, I’ll take a close look at what Trustpilot is, how it works and how to keep an eye out for fake reviews.
5 Things to Know About Trustpilot
Whether you’re looking at a product, seller or service provider, reading reviews first is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most for your money. One review site that may be worth checking out is Trustpilot.com.
Before you start browsing reviews or posting some of your own, consider these five things about Trustpilot:
- What Is Trustpilot?
- How Does Trustpilot Work?
- Is Trustpilot Legit?
- How to Spot Fake Reviews
- Final Thoughts: Should I Trust Trustpilot?
Below, you’ll find detailed information about how Trustpilot works, tips to keep in mind while reading reviews and whether or not you should make this review site a part of your regular routine.
What Is Trustpilot?
Trustpilot is a consumer review website that was founded in 2007. Like the Better Business Bureau or Yelp, it’s a resource that people can use to leave reviews and read reviews from other consumers.
According to the website, founder and CEO Peter Holten Mühlmann started Trustpilot to give consumers a voice and to give companies a way to listen and respond. The company says it aims to achieve this goal in the most transparent way possible in order to build trust.
Basically, consumers can use Trustpilot to look up businesses worldwide and read or leave reviews and ratings. Companies can claim their Trustpilot pages in order to interact directly with their customers.
Trustpilot prides itself on being free for everyone, but there are also paid options for businesses that provide them access to additional features.
How Does Trustpilot Work?
Trustpilot works by collecting ratings and reviews from consumers around the world. Consumers can create free accounts to share their experiences with businesses, and companies can create free accounts to respond. But you don’t need an account to see business ratings and read reviews.
While anyone can leave reviews on Trustpilot, there are guidelines for who’s eligible to rate and review a company. You have to check a box when leaving a review that confirms you’re writing about your own genuine experience, and you have to enter your email address to verify your review.
Whether you’re looking to read reviews or leave one of your own, visit Trustpilot.com to get started.
From the website’s homepage, you can search for a company or category to explore. I typed in “dresslily” and clicked on DressLily.com to get an idea for how Trustpilot works. This is a clothing retailer that I’ve seen advertised on social media, but I’ve never ordered from them.
As you can see, the company had an average rating of 2.8/5 stars from 3,543 reviews at the time of writing.
Below this, you’ll see the option to write a review. If you want to review the company, click the number of stars you’d like to rate it, and click “Write a review.” From there, you can talk about your experience, give your review a title and confirm that the review is about your own experience. Then you’ll be asked to sign in with Google, Facebook or your email address to continue.
Beneath the option to write a review, you’ll see a breakdown of existing reviews. This feature lets you see what percentage of reviews are bad, poor, average, great and excellent. From there, you can filter the reviews by rating.
Lower on the page, you’ll see all of the published reviews sorted by date. Trustpilot says the reviews are published automatically, so there’s no censorship. You can scroll down to read reviews left by customers as well as replies from the company. You’ll also see if any reviews have been reported and removed for breaching Trustpilot’s guidelines.
To the right, you’ll see the Business Transparency section. Here, I can see that DressLily claimed its Trustpilot profile in 2015 and has responded to 99% of its negative reviews. You can click on “See organic review data” for more details.
On this page, you’ll find detailed information on how a company has used Trustpilot over the past 12 months. This includes where the company’s reviews come from, how its ratings differ per source, how many reviews it has flagged and whether those flagged reviews actually breached Trustpilot’s guidelines.
The business transparency page is one of the most valuable resources because it gives you an idea of how the company is interacting with its customers.
With DressLily, I can see that most of the reviews are organic (meaning unsolicited), and the rest were generated by manual invitations the company sent out. I scrolled down to the “New reviews by star rating” table and filtered it by manual invitations.
By doing this, I found that all reviews left by manual invitations were great or excellent aside from one outlier.
Then I filtered the same table by organic reviews to find that while most were bad, there were still a good number of positive organic reviews posted in the past year.
This tells me that DressLily may filter who it invites to review the company. I also found that, out of 376 reviews in the last year, DressLily flagged 241 for removal. The data show that only 10% of these were flagged for invalid reasons, which means most of the flagged reviews actually did breach Trustpilot’s guidelines. And DressLily responded to 99% of its negative reviews, typically within a week.
To me, this says that DressLily is actively involved with its customers on Trustpilot, even though the company hasn’t paid to access Trustpilot’s additional features. If it had, there would have been a note on the review page under “Business Transparency.”
After using Trustpilot to read reviews about this company and seeing how it interacts with unsatisfied customers, I’d feel relatively confident placing an order with DressLily.
How Does Trustpilot Work for Businesses?
For businesses, Trustpilot works a little differently. You can click on “For Companies” in the top-right-hand corner of the Trustpilot homepage. From there, you can create a free business account or see your company’s current star rating.
With a free account, you can access basic services such as claiming your company profile page, inviting customers to leave reviews and responding to reviews.
“Businesses can respond for free, but a lot of them just ignore their clients,” says money expert Clark Howard. “That tells you something by itself.”
Creating a free account on Trustpilot for your business is a great way to interact with your customers, build your online presence and increase your credibility. Potential customers who look up your company’s profile will be able to see how you’ve interacted with previous customers and how you’ve used Trustpilot in the last year.
Paid membership options begin with a standard package from $199 per month. With this package, you’ll gain access to additional features including an ad-free company profile page, 500 automated review invitation emails per month and more. Beyond the standard membership, add-ons and enterprise options can get quite pricey. You’ll have to contact Trustpilot if you want a custom quote for these services.
Is Trustpilot Legit?
Based on what I’ve seen, Trustpilot seems to be a legitimate consumer review website that genuinely aims to connect customers and businesses in the most transparent way possible.
“I like this,” Clark says while browsing the Trustpilot website. “There’s a certain network effect. They’ve got 104 million reviews, they’ve been around 13 years. … This looks like the real deal!”
To determine Trustpilot’s legitimacy further, I researched a few more examples in the same way that I looked at DressLily in the section above.
Example 1: Everlane
Two of Team Clark’s members have successfully ordered products from Everlane, so I checked out that website next.
The “bad” score was immediately alarming, until I noticed that the company hasn’t claimed its profile page nor has it been active on Trustpilot in the last 12 months. It’s worth noting that Walmart’s ratings are even worse, and I consider Walmart to be a relatively trustworthy retailer.
I checked Everlane out with the Better Business Bureau to see how these scores compared. While it’s not paying for BBB accreditation, Everlane does have a much higher score (B) after closing 110 complaints in the last 12 months. Because of this, I know that the company is at least engaging with its customers somewhere online.
So in this case, I couldn’t rely on Trustpilot to verify that Everlane is a legitimate website, but I could rely on the reviews to see what kind of problems other people have had. Since Everlane isn’t active on Trustpilot, I think it’s fair to assume that it’s highly unlikely the company is flagging negative reviews or hiring people to write reviews on its behalf.
Example 2: Wish.com
Next, I looked at the Trustpilot profile page for Wish.com. I have several family members who regularly order off Wish, so I know that this is a legitimate retailer. Still, I know that the shipping times, quality and advertised sizes seem to be frequent complaints from Wish customers.
Despite those common complaints, Wish had average ratings on Trustpilot at the time of writing. Wish has claimed its Trustpilot profile and pays to access extra Trustpilot features. While the company has responded to only 2% of its negative reviews, the business transparency block says that Wish typically responds to negative reviews within a week. This tells me that Trustpilot may be one way to contact a particular company if you have a problem.
One potential issue here for me is that Wish received 10,500 excellent reviews in January 2020, which is significantly more than any other month in the last year. While the post-holiday season and COVID could have had some impact, this big number made me wonder if some of those reviews are fake.
Because Wish pays for Trustpilot’s extra features and had a crazy amount of excellent reviews in one month, I’m a bit skeptical about how much I can trust this rating. Still, many of the individual reviews were clearly genuine. So the reviews can still be helpful, especially if you keep an eye out for red flags that might indicate fakes.
Example 3: Fabletics
I was also curious about Fabletics. This is another clothing retailer I’ve seen advertised on social media, but I’ve never placed an order with the company. After learning a little more about how Trustpilot works, I decided to check out Fabletics’ listing.
At the time of writing, Fabletics had 110,109 reviews and averaged 4 stars, which is a great rating. I can see that the company has claimed its Trustpilot account, pays to access extra Trustpilot features, typically replies to negative reviews within a week and has responded to 99% of negative reviews.
Just browsing through the recent reviews, I saw a great mix of what seemed like genuine negative, positive, and average reviews, which is always a good sign. Additionally, some of the negative reviews have been invited by Fabletics, which makes me think that the company doesn’t limit its review invitations to only those customers who’ve had positive experiences.
At the time of writing, I could also see that the company had already responded to many of the negative reviews that were left earlier the same day. That tells me Fabletics is most likely a trustworthy company and that Trustpilot may be a great way to contact Fabletics if I have any questions after my order. In this case, Trustpilot told me a lot about the company I was researching.
I double-checked these ratings against the BBB just to compare, and Fabletics has a significantly lower customer review average there. In fact, it averaged just 1.16 out of 5 stars despite having an A+ BBB rating and paying for accreditation. Still, in the last year, the company has closed 297 complaints, which tells me that Fabletics is involved with its customers on both review sites. This is good to know despite some low ratings and negative reviews. Because of these factors, I would trust ordering from this company.
Overall, I found that Trustpilot provides a great amount of transparency and gives businesses the opportunity to connect with their customers, whether they take it or not. As a consumer, I thought the actual reviews on Trustpilot were extremely helpful, and the business transparency page gave me an idea of how much I could trust what I was reading. That’s a feature you don’t get on every review site!
I also checked the Better Business Bureau to see how Trustpilot ranked. Out of 69 customer reviews at the time of writing, Trustpilot maintained a 3.75/5 rating. It also had an A+ rating from BBB itself, despite the fact that the company doesn’t pay for BBB accreditation. This is another reason that I believe Trustpilot is a legitimate resource.
Keep in mind that, just like anything you read online, not all of the reviews are genuine. There’s no perfect system, and there will always be ways for companies to filter review invitations or hire others to write fake reviews for their benefit.
How to Spot Fake Reviews
Unfortunately, fake reviews are everywhere online, and they seem to be increasing. In fact, about 42% of the 720 million Amazon reviews analyzed by data analytics company Fakespot between March 2020 and September 2020 were considered to be unreliable.
“It’s important to know how much of the reviews out there are bogus,” says Clark, “and the idea of Trustpilot is that these are reviews you can trust.”
Of course, Trustpilot’s transparency model allows users to post reviews instantly with only minor verification and no censorship. This is one reason that you may come across some less-than-reputable reviews on Trustpilot just like you might on any review site.
In order to spot fake reviews, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Look for a lot of reviews posted in a short amount of time. This can be a red flag especially if all the reviews are positive or if all of them are negative. This could be the work of a person/company flooding the page with fake reviews.
- Look at other reviews that the reviewer has left. This can give you an idea of whether or not the account is owned by a real person or by someone who’s been paid to write targeted reviews. Fake accounts may not have a profile picture or name, and they may be leaving reviews for just one type of product or a single company.
- Look at the language and grammar. Some companies hire contractors from around the world or even use automated technology to post fake reviews. You may be able to pick these out based on how poorly the review is written.
In addition to keeping these tips in mind, note that Trustpilot has measures in place for combatting fake reviews. According to the website, Trustpilot has more than 50 people safeguarding the platform, 25+ fraud detection robots and gets more than 5,000 whistleblower notifications each month from members of the global community.
Final Thoughts: Should I Trust Trustpilot?
Based on my research, Trustpilot is definitely a legitimate resource worth your time. This is especially true if you’ve never ordered from a website before or if you need to contact a company that’s active on Trustpilot.
A low score on Trustpilot doesn’t necessarily mean a company isn’t legit, but it may give you a better idea of what to expect before ordering. And if a company has a mix of genuine positive, average and negative reviews and it routinely responds to unsatisfied customers, you can consider this to be a strong indicator that it’s safe to do business with that organization.
When it comes to big-name retailers and companies like Walmart, Expedia or American Airlines, you’ll mostly find negative reviews. Reading these isn’t necessarily going to help you gather quality information. But when it comes to online retailers, Trustpilot is a great place to see if a company is engaged with its customers and to read about genuine experiences from other consumers.
Finally, if you own a company or business, claiming your Trustpilot profile, responding to reviews and inviting customers to rate your page can be a great way to build a trustworthy online presence.
Have you ever used Trustpilot? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!