Topic 4:Dirty Competition

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(Self-Convert from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlIOqypvT-g)

How low are you willing to stoop to gain a competitive business advantage?

In my Topic 3 Reflection, I raised the issue of negative posts circulating on the internet affecting our online image. Be it true or false. In this post, I shall escalate the issue into a business context. Specifically against competitors.

From 1999 -2006. Whole Foods Market Inc. CEO John Mackey, attacked rival company Wild Oats Market Inc. on internet financial forums under the alias rahodeb. He commented that the company’s stocks were overpriced and predicted its fall into bankruptcy. In February 2007, Whole Foods announced its intention to buy Whole Oats.

According to this news report, Uber employees are accused of booking and cancelling rides of their competitor; Lyft. In an effort to sabotage their business.

This thread on Amazon forum discusses about what to do if your competitor leaves you fake reviews.

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Business can employ ‘dirty tactics’ such as false reviews on social media platforms

Sites such as Google and Amazon has policies regarding false reviews. However, proving that negative reviews are intentional acts of sabotage is an uphill task and takes time and effort.

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Possible ‘review sabotage’ through Facebook, notice the profile picture of the reviewer is pure black

Enough about slandering competitors, how about false positive reviews about your own company? This video shows how easy it is to buy positive reviews.

(Source : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y0pYUdfGiw)

I would like to input my thoughts on this issue. Ethically and professionally, false reviews are wrong. But what if the reviews were true? Maybe highlight your business strength or emphasize the weaknesses of your competitors? Is it considered ethical then? Politicians have been doing it for decades, emphasizing their opponents incompetencies and stating how their policies are better. So why not businesses? As long as it is factually correct.

I would like to end of the post with the words of Otto Berman, “It’s Nothing personal, it’s just business”.

References:

msnbc.com. (2016). Whole Foods CEO’s anonymous online life. [online] Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/19718742/ns/business-us_business/t/whole-foods-ceos-anonymous-online-life/#.WCV-T_p97IV [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Khaw, C. (2016). Uber accused of booking 5,560 fake Lyft rides. [online] The Verge. Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/12/5994077/uber-cancellation-accusations [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Kilduff, G., Galinsky, A., Gallo, E. and Reade, J. (2016). Whatever It Takes to Win: Rivalry Increases Unethical Behavior.

Tom Fanelli. (2016). Evil Competitors are Trying to Sabotage Your SEO Using Negative SEO. [online] Available at: http://www.tomfanelli.com/evil-competitors-are-trying-to-sabotage-your-website-using-negative-seo/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Fink, E. (2016). Uber-nasty? Staff submits 5,560 fake ride requests. [online] CNNMoney. Available at: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/11/technology/uber-fake-ride-requests-lyft/index.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Goodwin, D., DiSilvestro, A., Agrawal, H., Litsa, T. and Litsa, T. (2016). Google Warns SEO & Businesses to Avoid Fake Reviews | Search Engine Watch. [online] Searchenginewatch.com. Available at: https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2241393/google-warns-seo-businesses-to-avoid-fake-reviews [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

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7 thoughts on “Topic 4:Dirty Competition”

  1. Hi Jeremiah!
    I too discussed about these similar issues in my blog and am glad that we share the same sentiments.
    In your post, you questioned if leaving truthful reviews to accentuate your business strength or your competitors’ weaknesses is unethical. To me, the issue is WHO the review is from and not WHAT the content is. If the review comes from consumers who have used your product/services and are not paid to give a biased review, then it is completely acceptable and ethical. Businesses, including its employees, should never be the ones who review themselves, nor be the ones who leave critiques on other businesses as these reviews will certainly be viewed as having an ulterior motive. Do you agree?

    Also, a simple google search on ‘buy(ing)fake reviews’ revealed a number of websites that provides this service. How do you think more can be done to curb this issue?

    (150 words)

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    1. Hey Teresa, I agree with you completely on aspects of reviews. However, speculations and forecast are a whole different issue. Take Whole Food Market Inc. case for example, is it unethical to speculate? And how are we able to determine if one is intentionally misleading or truely believes his predictions? This is a very grey area that could do with some addressing. On the issue of ‘buying fake reviews’, I tend to view it as sort of a marketing strategy. Businesses pay celebrities/athletes to say good things about their products. I view buying of reviews as a sort of endorsement and not really unethical.

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  2. Hello Jeremiah! I agree with you on how ‘dirty competition’ is definitely unethical. However, it is difficult to tell whether a review is true or fake. In your example, you speculated that Evana’s comment may be a sabotage due to the fact that she has a black profile picture. This is not valid as there may be reasons which we are unaware of. I also will have to disagree with you on how self-reviews may not be completely unethical. Personally, I feel that the purpose of consumers refer to reviews to see how other consumers think about your brand/product/service. By fabricating your reviews, this is no difference from an advertisement on the television where you boast about your own merits. Furthermore, how do you know if the content of your ‘review’ is accurate? For example, the ‘review’ may be praising the fact that food from your fast food chain is delivered within an hour. However, as an employee from a management level, how do you know that it’s true?

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    1. I am aware that the Facebook review in my example may not be a valid case of sabotage reviews. But it was just used as an example. There are various ways a business can ‘review themselves’. I don’t mean a direct self-review is ethical. I was specifically talking more about indirect self-reviews such as paid reviews by third parties. How ethical in this case is quite subjective as there are no clear stand by society on how this ‘endorsement’ like process should be conducted.

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      1. My apologies for the misunderstanding. However, I still do not stand by the act of paid reviews. I assume that you are talking about influencers marketing whereby social media stars are paid to give reviews. This is actually against the law. In fact, this is actually quite very relevant to the blogpost that I wrote for this topic. Perhaps, you can check it out if you like to.

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