Why We're Removing Trustpilot from Our Website: A Transparency Update

Feb 21, 2024by Mark Gordon

At Planet Merch, transparency and integrity are at the core of everything we do. We strive to provide our customers with the best possible experience, and that includes being upfront and honest about our processes and partnerships. It's with this commitment to honesty that we must inform you of a significant decision we've made: we will no longer be using Trustpilot to gather reviews about our company.


This decision has not been made lightly. Trustpilot has been a longstanding partner for us, but recent events have led us to question the authenticity and ethics of their review management process. Despite our customers using verified links in their automated review invitation emails, Trustpilot has actively been declining the authenticity of reviews written about our company. What's more, they failed to inform us of this practice, all while charging us for additional review invitations that have ended up being blocked.


Now, some might argue that this is to block negative reviews, is a way to prevent damage to our reputation and may be something that we've paid for and approve of. But at Planet Merch, we believe in transparency. We embrace both positive and negative feedback, understanding that they both contribute to our growth and improvement as a company. Whilst we had the ability to, we showcased our 1-star reviews in the same manner as our 5-star reviews with our "Good, Bad, Ugly" feature, something that we've never seen from other companies. We would never want anyone who felt the need to speak of their experience with us to be censored in any way.


This scandalous revelation only came to light recently when a hero who shall remain unnamed (trying to leave a 5-star review I might add) reached out to us after their genuine review was blocked. They had made a purchase with us, received an automated review invitation email from Trustpilot, clicked the link, already had a Trustpilot account and had left other reviews but they said "No" when they made their review. Even after we have upgraded to a paid plan and experiencing a significant increase in sales due to marketing increases, we've noticed a massive shortfall in review uptake after our paid subscription started. This begs the question: is Trustpilot actively suppressing reviews from genuine customers with genuine experiences?


Our research into Trustpilot's practices didn't take long to reveal a large amount of discussion and experiences of a disturbing pattern of unethical behaviour that contradicts their stated ethos of trust and transparency. Mentions of paying companies reportedly being able to flag and remove negative reviews (we have never flagged a review), leading to an unrealistic portrayal of their services. There has been a massive uptake in companies with exceptional ratings that appear in other places on the internet and review providers as sham companies scamming customers of their money. There are even allegations of sales tactics reminiscent of mafia protection rackets, where negative reviews are used as leverage to coerce businesses into paid contracts.


Furthermore, our experience with Trustpilot's customer service and technical support has been lacklustre at best. Technical issues remain unresolved, with support staff pushing for expensive upgrades rather than providing solutions. Even Trustpilot's own employees have acknowledged the outdated systems and lack of innovation within the company.


At Planet Merch, we hold ourselves to high standards of honesty and integrity. We expect the same from our partners, and unfortunately, Trustpilot does not meet these standards. If we could completely remove ourselves from their grasp we would. Unfortunately, this is not an option and is used as a sales tactic to move businesses into paid plans. We do understand that customers may still choose to leave reviews on their platform and we will operate in an unpaid capacity to address these customers because we believe that is the right thing to do by them.


It's essential for us to be transparent about this decision. We have nothing to hide, are not trying to escape negative reviews or a bad rating and we want our customers to understand the reasons behind our actions. Especially considering our current Trustpilot rating of 4.7 out of 5 with 170 reviews at the time of writing this, is above average to other stores in our classification. These actions may prove to be detrimental to our business but we are willing to forsake this so that we can uphold the values that we've built our company on.


I would like the close with informing you that we currently are still in a paid contract with Trustpilot that will not end for several months. We will do all the we can to remove ourselves from this as we believe that we have been sold a misleading service but we may not be able to. If the outcome of this should prove unfavourable, we will still stand by our decision to keep Trustpilot as far removed from our business despite being forced to pay them as we strongly believe in our values. In the meantime, we will be exploring alternative review platforms that align more closely with our values and ethos. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate this transition period. Rest assured, our commitment to providing excellent service and products remains unwavering.


Thank you for your continued support.

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