Consumers Put At Risk By Fake Online Reviews

Last year, I mentioned about fake computer repair companies showing up on Google, Yahoo, and other sites on the web. Here, in Phoenix, it’s become somewhat of an epidemic of sorts. Like many cities, there are plenty of service based businesses which can be a benefit to consumers. It’s not hard to find the right one for you, if you just do your research. But when it comes to computer repair, the reviews you see online about a company might not always be accurate. In fact, it could be written by not only the company owners themselves but in the case of negative reviews against a company, written by competitors. Yes, legitimate companies can become targets of false negative reviews and it’s happening more often lately.

While reviews might be helpful to some consumers, others might want to consider the source of who wrote them and actually check it out for themselves. At a more rapid rate, no matter which industry is, more fake reviews are showing up online. Google for example not only allows consumers to post reviews (positive or negative) but it also can be a place where abuse can easily happen. Yes, competitors can indeed pose as customers and post negative reviews against their competition.

Here in the Phoenix metro area this was found to be the case. One such individual (or possibly a group of individuals) is certainly making a name for themselves in the computer repair community, but not in a good way. Owners of local computer repair companies are starting to report that they’re being victimized by fake reviewers. The first thing being reported is that they’ll attack a competitor and post a negative review about them, then suddenly they’ll have an overwhelming positive review about another company. The unusual part of this scenario is the fact that the rave reviews are for companies that aren’t legitimate or don’t even exist. Heck, even the computer company I own (Panther TEK which many of you know is one of the legitimate companies) was a victim of this type of shadowy behavior.

Take one review by Ed who saw fit to warn everyone on Google about how Panther TEK is “ridiculously overpriced” and that the owner is a “lunatic.” In fact, personal attacks seemed to be the reviewer’s main weapon. Of course, clicking on Ed’s name reveals a positive review about Sheldon’s PC Service which in fact is a fake computer listing owned by an individual who has posted multiple computer companies online. In fact, over 12 separate computer repair companies are owned by this person. Yes, Ed turned out to be a fake reviewer.

How about this review by Lynn which not only attacks Panther TEK as being a bad company but she claims that she visited our establishment and that she was met by, “a crazy looking guy with at least 11 cats that I could count and I think he lives with his mother.”  Of course she posts separate reviews giving high praise to Glendale PC Service, Phoenix Discount PC Service, Discount Computer Repair Service, and Sheldon’s Laveen Computer Repair Service & Data Recovery which are owned by the same person.  Once again the fake reviewer strikes with misinformation,  because Panther TEK goes to the customer’s location to do the work. I also don’t live with my mother or have 11 cats. Sure, having a home office is great and I have 2 cats, but I don’t invite customers over to pick up their computers. Panther TEK does however go on-site to the customer’s location to do the work. We’ve been doing that for almost 9 years and the customer can oversee if they wish the work that’s being done on their systems.

Of course Panther TEK wasn’t the only computer repair company targeted by this person. Other computer repair companies in the Phoenix area have also been victimized in much the same way.

Take the review by John who posts a negative review about Team Logic claiming they “overcharge and upsell every last one of their so-called clients and harrass them by holding their computers hostage until they get paid the ill-gotten money.” Or how about this post by Jim who attacks Data Doctors by calling them “thieves” and referring to My PC Techs as a “scam?” Even Geeks Mobile was put in a negative light by the reviewer who said the tech sent to his house was “DISGUSTING and that “he smelled.”

Meanwhile, like Lynn Jim has nothing but positive things to say about Glendale PC Service, Scottsdale PC Service, Phoenix Discount PC Service, Sheldon’s Laveen Computer Repair Service & Data Recovery, Peoria PC Service, and Sheldon’s PC Service.  And let’s not forget Hiram who refers to Absolute Computers as a “really awful place to have your computer NOT fixed!” Of course SPSI Computer Specialists also wasn’t spared, as Hiram referred to their establishment as “a dump with two terrible terrible so-called computer tech who have fake certifications.” Of course, like the others he has great things to say about Glendale PC Service. The average consumer, unless they do their research has no idea that the negative reviews against Panther TEK, Data Doctors, Geeks Mobile, My PC Techs, Absolute Computers, and SPSI Computer Specialists  were written by a competitor who has a number of fake computer repair company listings (including false addresses) throughout the Phoenix metro area. This is not only bad practice but also puts consumers at risk for fraud. Luckily, Google does allow you to see who has posted reviews in their maps section which can clearly show a history of what the reviewer likes and dislikes.

Now you may be saying to yourself, if I can’t trust the reviews, then how can I possibly know which company is the real deal? The best thing to do is  research them. Call the companies and ask them questions about their operation. You should never be afraid to ask them about how long they’ve been in business, what they specialize in or whether or not they even have a license to conduct business.  Another idea that I’ve stated before is to also talk to family and friends to find out who they use to fix their computer problems. If they recommend someone highly, then that’s a safe bet they might be a perfect fit for your needs. I’ve gotten plenty of customers through referrals and like any business owner work hard to retain them. Building trust through workmanship is a big part of what it’s all about. If you do good work you get referrals. However, if you run a shady outfit it doesn’t matter much at all, especially if you take the customer’s money and run away with no intention on fixing their problem. Consumers in general should be protected from unscrupulous computer techs just like they should with any other industry.

The bottom line is simple, if a family member or close friend doesn’t have anyone to refer you to, then doing your homework on the companies themselves as well as the reviewing source could be the best direction to go in. Then again, there’s also taking a leap of faith. So, use your gut instinct and remember, you have the power to choose the right company for your needs. Just make sure that when the time comes, you listen to that inner voice that either tells you to run away or that you’ve found the right fit for your computer needs. After all, it is your choice.

Thanks to some research in regards to this entry we found at least 12 different computer companies that were apparently owned by the same person with at least 5 being listed at the same address. Here they are:

Truth N Technology (aka Glendale PC Service)

Netech Global (aka Sheldon’s PC Service) linked due to false listing on Google maps or hijacked listing. There is a Netech Global in Anthem found online but Google lists the web address and phone number as being linked to Sheldon’s PC Service.

Sheldon’s PC Repair

Glendale PC Service

Jon’s Computer Service

Jon’s Computer Repair Service

Phoenix Computer Repair & Data Recovery Service

Peoria PC Service

Jon’s Mesa Computer Repair

West Valley Computer Service

Scottsdale PC Service

Sheldon’s Laveen Computer Repair Service & Data Recovery

More listings may be added later as they become available.

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