Insider Pages Deleting Negative Reviews!!!

Registered users of Insider Pages who are spending wasting their valuable time writing free customer reviews of local businesses around the country for this publicly traded company’s website will want to hear about this horrible experience I had with them.

(For those not in the know, Insider Pages was launched in 2004 and is headquartered in the Bay Area. Insider Pages is a local search property of Citysearch. Their website claims “At InsiderPages.com, people share reviews of local businesses,” however as you will read, your review on Insider Pages just might be utterly worthless and arbitrarily deleted.)

This is my story: I was recently royally screwed over by an attorney to whom I had paid tens of thousands of dollars in retainer fees. The State Bar Association received my complaint but ultimately decided not to take any disciplinary or administrative actions against said lawyer (he might have been unethical and negligent but, according to the Bar, not technically guilty of malpractice).

So I decided to take my complaint to the internet, where I began sharing my nightmarish experience on various public forums, message boards and lawyer review websites.

It was on Insider Pages that I saw I was not alone in my opinion of this scumbag lawyer. There were a total of 10 reviews for him, 5 which were suspiciously over-positive (users with the same last initial hailing him as a “role model” and a “savior” and a “godsend”; I suspect he wrote those reviews himself). The remaining 5 reviews were 1-star reviews by former clients who also “took it in the arse” by this lawyer.

While the vague generalizations of the “positive” reviews lead me to believe they had been written by said lawyer and/or his secretary, the negative reviews each went into detail about their specific cases and experiences, giving me reason to trust that they were legitimate, real reviews by unhappy customers.

So I spent the next hour writing about my own experience with said lawyer, then signed up with Insider Pages, completed my profile, and added my review to the list of others.

Well, just a couple days later, I went back to Insider Pages only to find my review DELETED without explanation. I thought perhaps I had made some error when I clicked “send,” but then I noticed ALL the other NEGATIVE reviews written about this same lawyer had also been deleted!!! The only reviews which remained were the fake 5-star reviews, thereby bringing this guy’s overall rating on Insider Pages from 2 stars all the up to 5 stars.

My first reaction was that the lawyer had deleted the negative reviews himself, but after checking around I realized such a thing was not possible on Insider Pages’ user interface. So then I tried to log back on to Insider Pages, only to find that my IP address has been officially blocked (???). Finally I emailed their customer service and their legal department to demand an explanation, and also to ask them if my ex-lawyer had bought them off or perhaps threatened to pull advertising if they did not delete his negative reviews.

Legal has not yet replied, but customer service did so promptly. In their email, Insider Pages denied removing the negative reviews at the behest of said lawyer. And they referred me to their Terms & Conditions, which states in section 5.2:

“You agree that you may not and will not post or submit any User Content that contains or features any of the following: References to illegal activity, professional malpractice or health code violations.”

Insider Pages goes on in their Terms & Conditions to say that users must “further waive any claim that Insider Pages is somehow acting in an unfair or discriminatory manner by refusing to display (or by removing) such content.”

Now, call me old fashioned, but what exactly is the point of a customer review website that 1) arbitrarily deletes negative reviews, and 2) does not allow customers to warn other potential customers of businesses engaging in “illegal activity, professional malpractice or health code violations?”

This seems ridiculously absurd. Why not just change their company name then from ‘Insider Pages’ to ‘Only Glowing Reviews’? Or how about ‘No Negative Reviews dot com”? Seriously, why does Insider Pages even offer five star ratings?; by their own Terms & Conditions, user are basically not allowed to write 1-star reviews.

The answers to my own questions might be answered on the about page of Insider Pages website, where they openly say “Insider Pages was created to help people find the best local businesses.” Notice it does not say “worst” local business, nor does it say “warn people about” local businesses, but rather “find great services.” Fair enough; they want to keep things positive. But by their own admission, “millions of people visit our site each month to get the Insider scoop on local businesses.”

Exactly my point! Consumers want the “inside scoop!” That means that we want to know not just which floral shop had the freshest flowers and which beauty salon has the newest magazines, but we also want to know if the lawyer they are about to plunk $5,000 down on is going to leave them high and dry, or if a teacher at the preschool they might send their daughter to has ever been arrested for diddling little girls, or if the dentist they are signing up with is going to over-bill their insurance company for service not even rendered, or if anyone else caught food poisoning massive diarrhea from that dive Indian restaurant down the street or if your new gynecologist has ever “forgotten” to wear rubber gloves during exams with other patients.

Negative reviews are arguably more beneficial to potential customers than glowing reviews such as “This is the best doctor in California!!!”or “This is the cheapest auto mechanic in the Bay Area!!!” because, as we all know, those kinds of reviews are most often written by the business owners themselves, not real customers.

In sum, if Insider Pages wants to arbitrarily delete negative reviews on their website and only allow positive reviews, that is their prerogative they will quickly lose credibility in the online community.

And considering that Insider Pages belongs to a publicly traded company (an operating business of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI) they are beholden to their shareholders, and I daresay that their shareholders would agree with me that there is little if any purpose of a customer review website that only publishes positive reviews of local businesses.

Lastly, I can understand begrudgingly accept why Insider Pages deleted my 1-star review of my slimeball attorney; I did not outright accuse him of malpractice, but it was inferred in the language and tone that I used. However, what purpose they had for deleting the other 5 negative reviews written by unhappy customers who had been screwed over by the same lawyer remains a mystery, and until Insider Pages either puts those 5 reviews back online, or offers me a convincing explanation, then I will continue to warn people that Insider Pages sucks dissuade people from wasting their time writing ANY reviews for Insider Pages.

It’s bad enough that I have to protect myself from shady lawyers, by now I also have to be weary of fake customer review websites like InsiderPages.Com?  Good grief!

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 8, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    i just read your post about insider pages.com. i agree they are a pointless service. anyone can sign up and write a review, yet they only delete the negative ones. now they are spamming the web about their new service, doctor finder.com. and if customers are still not allowed to write reviews “that contains references to professional malpractice or health code violations” then those are going to be some happy doctors writing a hundred fake positive reviews for themselves while the real negative reviews are automatically deleted. ha! what a joke! they must be getting kickbacks under the table from all these businesses, that’s the only explanation i can think of for why insider pages are deleting negative reviews.


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