Posts Tagged: Full Service Van Lines


19
Oct 15

Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Online Reviews Part II

In July I wrote about the dangers of blindly trusting online reviews, especially for high-dollar services like moving companies. That piece told the story of Full Service Van Lines, a moving company that had mostly five-star reviews online but whose owners and operators had a long and very public history of losing or destroying their customers’ stuff and generally taking months to actually ship what few damaged goods it delivered. Last week, federal regulators shut the company down.

updownthunbsNBC Miami reports that Full Service Van Lines (FSVL) was shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but not because of consumer complaints. The DOT reportedly revoked the company’s license due to a pattern of safety violations. And that’s saying something: The NBC story said FSVL received more complaints this year than any other Florida mover of its size.

My July story on FSVL concluded that the company’s owners likely inflated and manipulated their online reputation via a search engine optimization (SEO) firm they owned. Unfortunately, this practice is incredibly common among labor-intensive services that do not require the customer to come into the company’s offices but instead come to the consumer. These services include but are not limited to locksmiths, windshield replacement services, garage door repair and replacement technicians, carpet cleaning and other services that consumers very often call for immediate service.

Bryan Seely, a security expert who’s working on an as-yet unpublished book on these so-called dark/black SEO practices, said such services are rife for SEO experts who create hundreds or thousands of phantom companies online with different business names, addresses and phone numbers. The calls to each of these phony firms are eventually all routed back to the SEO company, which sells the customer lead to one of several companies that have agreed in advance to buy such business leads.

As a result, many consumers think they are dealing with one company when they call, yet end up being serviced by a completely unrelated firm that may not have to worry about maintaining a reputation for quality and fair customer service. Continue reading →


5
Jul 15

Don’t Be Fooled By Phony Online Reviews

The Internet is a fantastic resource for researching the reputation of companies with which you may wish to do business. Unfortunately, this same ease-of-use can lull the unwary into falling for marketing scams originally perfected by spammers: Namely, fake reviews and dodgy search engine manipulation techniques that seek to drown out legitimate, negative reviews in a sea of glowing but fake endorsements.

The home page of Full Service Van Lines.

The home page of Full Service Van Lines.

Perhaps the most common example of this can be found among companies that offer moving and storage services, an industry that consistently ranks in the top 10 across the United States for consumer fraud complaints.

Trust your family heirlooms and other belongings to a moving company without scratching beneath the surface of that glowing review online and at best you could end up paying way more than the agreed-upon price once the company has all of your possessions loaded onto the truck. In most cases, the consumer horror stories about moves-gone-bad also include tales of massive damage to the customer’s stuff — if indeed the customer’s stuff ever arrives.

Even people who are steeped in the ways of the Interwebs can get bamboozled by slick search engine manipulation tricks. Last month I heard from David Matusiak, a longtime reader and information security professional who hired a Florida-based moving company that got five-star reviews from dozens of sites. Unfortunately for Matusiak, many of those “review” sites appear to have been set up and maintained by the people behind the company he hired.

Based in Morrisville, NC, Matusiak had just landed a job in California that wanted him to start right away. So after a couple of hours of reading reviews online for a reputable moving company, Matusiak settled on Full Service Van Lines based in Coconut Creek, Fla. Now, more than 30 days after his truckload of belongings left his home on the East Coast, Matusiak is still waiting for his stuff to arrive in California.

HUGE RED FLAGS

Matusiak said he read page after page of glowing reviews about Full Service Van Lines. Little did he know, the same email address used to register fullservicevanlines.com was used to register many of those “review” Web sites, which naturally list Full Service at the top of their supposed consumer rankings.

Interestingly, if you conduct a simple Google search on Full Service Van Lines, you’ll notice the top review sites — Google and Yelp — have two types of reviews for this company: Very positive and extremely negative, and not much in between. Continue reading →