With thanks to my Anaheim florist friend, Cathy, I just ordered a nice flower arrangement for good friends in San Jose who just had their first baby. I asked Cathy for a recommendation because she’s very much in touch with the best local florists around the country, and I wanted to make sure I was spending money with a real, small business — not some affiliate or intermediary who would charge me more for doing nothing.
Cathy suggested I call Marlowe’s Flowers, a Milpitas florist whom she liked after visiting a few years ago. It’s a good thing I had Cathy’s recommendation, because if I’d relied solely on this company’s online reviews, I would’ve never called them. Have a look at this screenshot of Marlowe’s listing on Google Maps:
I’d probably skip right past any business with a 2.5 stars rating, wouldn’t you? But, if you bother to dig into the reviews (which most people won’t), you’ll see something awfully suspicious:
Most of the reviews — and all of the 1-star reviews — were written over the course of two days: January 3 and 4, 2008. I circled the dates on a handful in the image above, but that’s only half the story. There are ten 1-star reviews, all left in a two-day span. And as if that’s not suspicious enough, let’s look at the review history of these “people” leaving the negative reviews about Marlowe’s Florist:
Above is the review history from “Mike.” Two reviews on the same day, and no others. He doesn’t like Marlowe’s, but he loves Lili of the Valley Flowers. Let’s see another one:
Pretty obvious review spam, wouldn’t you say? And it’s been sitting there for 10 months, turning away who-knows-how-many potential customers from picking up the phone and calling Marlowe’s Florist.
Luckily for Marlowe’s, Cathy showed them all this and they’re now doing what every small business needs to do: Claiming their Google Maps listing and reporting this obvious case of review spam. Hopefully, Google will react and clean this up.
On the bright side, I see Marlowe’s ranking #1 on a search for “milpitas florist,” so it’s not affecting their rankings in Google Maps. But you can bet that seeing so many negative reviews is affecting the amount of click-throughs and customers they get. And the scourge of Google Map Spam, this time in the form of fake reviews, continues….