Don't Waste Your Money: Realtors fight bogus online reviews - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Realtors fight bogus online reviews

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(Toledo News Now) -

If you need to hire someone to help you, whether it's a home improvement contractor, plumber, or realtor, chances are you check them out online first. That can often alert you to problems, but some phony online reviews are causing quite a stir.

When you want to hire a contractor, roofer, or realtor what do you do first? Most of us look for online reviews. But a new review site has many realtors crying unfair and trying to get it shut down.

"What Bad Review?"

Michelle Sloan is a realtor who prides herself in top-notch service, as an agent with Sibcy Cline.

She was stunned when a potential client e-mailed to say they found a terrible review about her online, stating in the e-mail: "My only concern is I have this bad review I found." To which Sloan thought, "What bad review?"  

It turned out Sloan had an 'F' rating from a website called Realtor-Complaints.com. Stunned, she looked around the site, and realized every realtor had the same rating.

"The exact complaint that was about me was about the realtor beside me," Sloan said. "Everybody had an 'F' rating on the website, which is not good."

Pay To Make It Go Away

Sloan looked for a way to complain, but soon found the only way to make the bad rating go away would be to pay money through PayPal.

"It would cost me $100 to remove the complaint, $49 to make a response to the complaint," she said. "I thought it was pretty dirty!"

Realtors across the country are calling this a scam: Some have used words like "shakedown" and "extortion."

No one has found out yet who is behind the site. Its "who-is" shows it registered on an offshore island outside the U.S., where American laws do not apply.

Sloan is filing a complaint with PayPal, since the payments go through that legitimate company.

Other Small Businesses At Risk

But Sloan warns every small business owner, whether a contractor, plumber, or realtor, to be alert for bogus reviews.

"My reputation online is really important to my business," Sloan said.

The National Association of Realtors has just posted a scam alert about this on its website. It is pursuing legal channels to stop the site from using its Realtor logo without permission.

In the meantime, if you are a consumer, be skeptical of all negative complaints you find about a potential business, because what you find may not be true.

As always, don't waste your money.

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