Update: June 2019 – Thrifty Australian Head Office have also since been notified and have advised they have since started working with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd to gradually remove the offending reviews posted by franchisee staff.
As a consumer, in general there are perhaps fewer things I detest than seeing businesses (or those in the employ of the business) writing their own reviews. This is called “Astroturfing” and significantly degrades the regard and trust I have towards any business engaging in such conduct particularly if such conduct is sanctioned or otherwise carried out by management or senior personnel themselves of any given business entity.
The following was noticed when I was looking to place my own review regarding my hire experience with a Thrifty Licensee, Lawrence Vic Pty ltd, while renting out of the Mickelham Road branch and then catching the names of known Licensee Management and staff against a couple of reviews initially…
Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd. T/A Thrifty Vic Car and Truck rental – Glenn Lawrence…
“Personally I think that these guys are the best rental company in Victoria. They always have great service a delivery on time with a smile. I would recommend them to anybody.“
– Source: Google Maps
…(if he is the same Glenn Lawrence who is connected to the Licensee) Of Course he would say that, he owns the franchise he’s reviewing.
In terms of employees rating their employer… (If the Boss is doing it, then it would be reasonable to ask whether or not some of the other employees are being encouraged to do this.), It appears Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer has placed 5 star ratings a number of locations.
In saying that, If he is the same “Peter Sowinski” under the employ of the Licensee It’s also possible that he did so on his own volition without thinking of the potential legal implications and because he possibly actually enjoys his work there. However, upon looking at his Google profile, he has posted 5 star ratings for at least 8 Thrifty locations (may be more) owned by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd.
Also briefly came across this… Again, a “Glenn Lawrence” (if he is the same Glenn Lawrence) rates his own business again on Facebook. Melissa Panozzo and Ali Shaw are also apparently under the employ of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd if you glance at both their Facebook profiles. Furthermore, if you glance at the rest of the profiles from where the ratings and reviews have come from, quite a few of them I feel appeared (at least to me) to be from direct friends to one of the Staff in question (Profiles liking and commenting on posts from the staffer’s profile and vice versa or more apparent, the staffer appearing on the friends widget of those profiles). While friends of staff are well within their right to place a review if they are genuine customers, a conflict of interest is present and this should really be disclosed within any review they post as per the ACCC Guidelines in respect to asking friends to leave a review.
I feel it would be now reasonable to question how many of the other reviews have possibly been fabricated? …Or otherwise posted by those connected to the business in someway without disclosure?
Furthermore, it opens up questions surrounding what other conduct this Franchise may be engaging in that may be less than upfront. To be honest, given the irregularities experienced, I feel there may be an “internal culture” problem within the organization. Rightly or wrongly, personally, I can’t help picturing an internal sales motivation scene where staff may be encouraged to bend the rules a bit to increase sales. The ACCC and Consumer Affairs Victoria have both been notified of the reviews.
To be honest, While I acknowledge that Lawrence Vic Pty ltd isn’t alone in such antics (Far from it), Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd is the first business (that isn’t an outright cold calling “wire” scam operation) who I have both personally had dealings with and seen engaging in the posting of falsified testimonials.
- ACCC Guidelines in relation to Managing online reviews
- ABC The Checkout – Online Reviews
- Companies behaving badly: Writing reviews for your own business