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Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:37

Edmunds.com Sues Humankind Design For What it Says Are Bogus Reviews on Edmunds.com Website

Edmunds.com has filed a lawsuit against online reputation management company Humankind Design Ltd. for attempting to post fraudulent dealer-supplied reviews on the Edmunds.com site. According to a petition filed in Texas, Edmunds.com claims it discovered that Humankind tried to register almost 2,200 fake members on its website, Edmunds.com said.

Humankind, of Friendswood, Texas, helps companies with reputation management. According to the company’s Web site, it can help a company improve its Google results, in part by pushing out negative reviews that show up on the first page with good ones and by fixing problems and improving ratings on third-party review sites.

 

Edmunds said it identified 25 dealers who hired Humankind to fill out reviews. The company declined to give those dealers’ names or locations.

Justin Anderson, owner of Humankind, said Edmunds.com has not contacted his company about the allegations and he has not seen a copy of the lawsuit. He found out about the lawsuit through journalists calling asking for a comment.

“I can say that we completely disagree with the assertion that we are posting fraudulent reviews online,” Anderson said.

Anyone who posts a review on Edmunds.com is required to go on the site and agree to its membership agreement, Kenneth Levin, general counsel for Edmunds.com, said. This agreement forbids using profanity and posting anything that isn’t based on the reviewer’s personal experience.

Edmunds monitors all of its reviews before they are posted on the site, and all reviews must conform with the membership agreement in order to be posted. Humankind posted its first fake review on Edmunds.com on Jan. 22., an Edmunds spokeswoman said. In early March, Edmunds employees monitoring the reviews identified a large number of registrations that were generating reviews that were not real, and traced those reviews back to Humankind, Levin said.

Anderson said Humankind does not post fake reviews, but it is part of Humankind’s service to post comment cards from customers at dealerships. Anderson said Humankind posts all the cards sent to them, so it would be on the dealer if negative cards were left out.

“We felt that we were within Edmund’s terms of service, obviously they would disagree,” Anderson said.

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