Price-comparison site: OCZ reviews 'questionable'

Trip Advisor revisited?

Austrian price comparison site Geizhals has flagged up reviews of OCZ's flash products on its site as suspicious.

Geizhals said there had been a sudden positive spike in the reviews of OCZ's flash products. Geizhals manager Yannikos Marinos told Heise Online (German, auto-translated to English) that 55 products had been given 56 questionable ratings. These reviews, according to Marinos, came from a single IP address, with the host name assigned to ocztechnology.com.

There's more: Geizhals said that on 21 February, one of its site visitors appeared to have reviewed 249 items in just one hour. Ninety-five OCZ SSDs were given top ratings, while 154 products from other suppliers were given poor ratings, Marinos said. Geizhals said it is investigating other questionable rating activity in October 2011 and other dates in February this year, in which 30 to 40 OCZ products were favoured.

Several other local tech news sites – including internetworld.de, PCWelt.de and PCtreiber – have reported on the issue.

Joost van Leeuwen, OCZ's EMEA director of marketing and PR, provided El Reg with a statement about this:

We want to thank Geizhals for bringing this important issue to our attention. OCZ strongly believes and values the honest and objective opinions of all users, no matter if positive or negative, and fully supports Geizhals in rectifying and removing all potentially “affected” reviews.

Furthermore OCZ is immediately conducting our own internal investigation to address this and determine if and how this was possible, and will take all necessary actions to resolve this issue. We greatly value our customers and their product satisfaction is our highest priority.

Review sites with no proper reviewer validation are open to abuse. Online backup service supplier Carbonite was in a similarly sticky position with a reviews site back in 2009. Carbonite's CEO later ascribed the problem to two overenthusiastic staff members and said it had since changed its policies.

Back here in the UK, disgruntled OCZ customer Dorothy Perry is still waiting for her refund cash five weeks after OCZ promised her the notes. She says: "I gave OCZ all the correct details. They said they sent it on 1 February, but it was returned because they had not put all the details down, and I have not heard since."

OCZ's corporate EMEA office is now sorting this out.

OCZ is growing at a fast pace and its business procedures and activities are under pressure, but it is a pity that a basically good company has these blots on its record. ®

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