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Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 1
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Hello, I am hoping to get something escalated here. A business that is well known for getting poor reviews is purchasing positive reviews. On their Facebook page they offer free zoo tickets in exchange for a positive 5 star review. They did this 6mos ago, 4 weeks ago, and started their most recent campaign today. They will quickly delete the facebook post and I keep missing it but today I did get a screenshot and the URL is still live which clearly directs people to give them a 5 star review on Google in exchange for a chance to get a ticket to the zoo. In total, about 80 of their 90 reviews are very clearly associated with these contests as all of the reviews were left the same day. Several of the reviews clearly state the users have never used the law firm or include #zoo hashtags in the review. Unfortunately, even Local Guides are leaving reviews. 

 

The business is Winton & Hiestand Law Group. This URL will soon disappear but here it is: https://www.facebook.com/WintonHiestandLawGroup/posts/1658837560865272. 

Screenshot:

They deleted the last post which states they ran the contest, but you can look at their reviews all left on the same day 4 weeks ago and clearly see they're all 'fake'. They did announce the winner here: https://www.facebook.com/WintonHiestandLawGroup/posts/1621691087913253 where 90 people comment, about 50 - 60 of those people clearly state that they're done leaving the fake review. 

 

A few people have chimed in on the review page to leave a note about the scheme as seen here: 

Of course, most attorneys in the area have a few reviews which is totally normal. Almost all of their fake reviews came in at the exact same time 25-30 days ago. Although, there is a new push with more reviews popping up today, and there's a batch that was all left on the same day 6mos ago. 

 

They should have under 10 reviews at the very most. 

 

Thank you for looking in to this. They are also being turned in to the FTC and Kentucky Bar Association. 

 

Google Maps URL: https://goo.gl/maps/JxXLxAuXGnp

 

Thank you

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Accepted by topic author Howard W
February

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

Top Contributor
# 32
Top Contributor

Hey Guys,

 

Just wanted to chime in here and clarify that I asked Google about this a few months ago and they told me that it is in their guidelines that incentives are not allowed.  This would include offers or giveaways.

 

The policy is here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3474122

 

"Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. (For example, business owners shouldn't offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews.) Read more in our review posting guidelines.  If you see a review that’s inappropriate or that violates our policies, you can flag it for removal. "


Joy Hawkins, Google My Business Top Contributor
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Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 2
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In case the images aren't displaying: 

Link to screenshot 1: https://imgur.com/FY3Pt1E

Link to screenshot 2: https://imgur.com/a/7DnFT

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 3
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@JoyHawkins Might you be able to assist with this? Thank you for your time in this community! 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

[ Edited ]
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# 4
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My name is Chauncey Hiestand and I am a partner and owner of Winton & Hiestand Law Group. While appreciate Howard W's concern, I am shocked at the misinformation he is providing Google. We are a small law firm in Louisville Kentucky. As part of our mission statement, we believe a strong legal team and LOCAL community service is paramount. Obviously, we don't have the monetary funds to advertise against the BIGGER TV firms. So, many times we have to use social media to compete. One of the many things we share or post are our many community service events and, on occasion, a big settlement or verdict from a satisfied client. Please feel free to review our years and years of such posts. 

 

Thus, we have and continue to promote these events and outcomes for clients in hopes of getting more business and helping the community. 

 

With regard to the subject POST that Howard H's believes is a request for FAKE REVIEWS, nothing could be further from the truth. This post states specifically, "IF YOU LIKE OUR LEGAL TEAM AND/OR APPRECIATE OUR COMMUNITY SERVICE, PLEASE GIVE US A GOOGLE REVIEW." Now, of course we inform people who consider giving such a review on these terms, that five stars are better than four. As Howard W suggests, please look at the many many reviews we have on both Facebook and Google. Lots of them are from clients. Lots are from the locals who simply appreciate what we do around the community. We have never advertised or ran a post to give away or pay anything for a FAKE review. We would never do such a thing. Its absurd. 

 

We have seen many other advertisement for Facebook, Instagram and Google and used their model. For instance, I have seen many local restaurants say something to the effect, "If you love our food and/or service, please give us a review. Winner will get a free family dinner." Thats what we do. Thats is not asking fro paying for a FAKE review. 

 

Lastly, Howard H suggests we DELETE these posts. We did delete the last GIVE AWAY because we wanted to focus on the upcoming youth basketball camp we were running. Please refer to our page and posts. I have no intention of taking this one down, unless and until we are running another community service event. 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 5
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Oops, this is the correct URL:
https://imgur.com/a/73JN6

 

The image is a screenshot clearly showing Winton & Hiestand Law Group's Facebook page and how they obtained all of their positive reviews.

 

In fact, I have screenshots of all of the Facebook users stating they left a 5 star review as well in case Mr. Hiestand deletes them and Google needs them. 

Note: The Google Page is now up to 95 reviews. 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 6
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You are incentivizing reviews; that is a fact, there is nothing to debate.
ty

 

 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 7
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We will have to agree to disagree sir. Pursuant to Google's own policy, as a business owner we are NOT "offering business, products or services for everyone who writes a review." Simply not true. We have offered a single family zoo pass to someone who has liked or likes our legal team/services, knows of and appreciates our community service and give a thoughtful review. Have you read the reviews? All of them speak to real people who know us in this town (Louisville, Kentucky) and know what we do for the community (if not our legal services). And with all due respect Howiesblog aka Howard W (from California), if you had taken the time to read through our years of previous FB posts about our countless community service projects, results for our clients and involvement with our 12000+ followers on Facebook, you would clearly see we are far from any type of scam firm "BUYING FAKE" reviews. That is the title of your post is... "BUYING FAKE REVIEWS". Are you taking that back now?

 

It is clear to us now you are simply a internet troll. That is a shame. 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 8
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We will have to agree to disagree sir. Pursuant to Google's own policy, as a business owner we are NOT "offering business, products or services for everyone who writes a review." Simply not true. We have offered a single family zoo pass to someone who has liked or likes our legal team/services, knows of and appreciates our community service and give a thoughtful review. Have you read the reviews? All of them speak to real people who know us in this town (Louisville, Kentucky) and know what we do for the community (if not our legal services). And with all due respect Howiesblog aka Howard W (from California), if you had taken the time to read through our years of previous FB posts about our countless community service projects, results for our clients and involvement with our 12000+ followers on Facebook, you would clearly see we are far from any type of scam firm "BUYING FAKE" reviews. That is the title of your post is... "BUYING FAKE REVIEWS". Are you taking that back now?

 

It is clear to us now you are simply a internet troll. That is a shame. 

Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

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# 9
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You are offering incentives for reviews to people who have never once used your services and it is very misleading.

 

Feel free to keep typing and calling me names if you'd like, but I have nothing else to say to you. 

Re: Business Buying Fake Positive Reviews - Winton & Hiestand Law Group

Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor

Hi @Howard W

 

Thanks for posting and I will create an escalation report for the team.

 

Will let you know when I hear back.



Tim Capper, Google My Business Top Contributor
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