Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, April 21, 2024
Humbucker Apartments Feb. 28
The Humbucker Apartments photographed on Feb. 28, 2024.

Madison landlord using rent credits to solicit positive reviews

Randall Park Rentals is offering residents a $25 rent credit in return for four- and five-star Google Reviews.

Madison-based rental company Randall Park Rentals (RPR) is offering residents a $25 rent credit for four- and five-star Google reviews.

“Your feedback helps us understand what we're doing well and where we can improve,” the property management company told residents in an email Tuesday. “As a token of our appreciation for your time and feedback, we're excited to offer you a special incentive: Leave us a 4 or 5-star review, and we'll issue you a $25 rent credit!”

The company’s actions are prohibited by Google’s user contributed content policy.

According to a resource page for local guides, “fake engagement” falls under the “prohibited & restricted content” label. This includes both “paying, incentivising or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience” and “selectively soliciting positive reviews from customers.”

Similar actions from other companies were previously the subject of warnings from federal officials. A 2021 Federal Trade Commission press release announced over 700 companies received Notice of Penalty Offenses regarding deceptive endorsements.

“The FTC is blanketing the industry with a clear message that, if they use endorsements to deceive consumers, the FTC will be ready to hold them responsible with every tool at its disposal,” the press release said. The FTC warned companies they could incur penalties of up to nearly $44,000 if they continued to misuse endorsements.

The FTC said endorsements must be “honest and not misleading” in an endorsement guide. The guide said any connections between a marketer and endorser must be disclosed “clearly and conspicuously.”

Randall Park is part of the larger rental company Colonial Property Management. Randall Park’s office manages the company’s buildings on the south side of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, including many apartment buildings on Spring Street between Randall Avenue and Charter Street.

The rental company — which had a 1.86 rating out of five based on 59 visible reviews made prior to the email — raised its score to 2.3 stars since Tuesday. Many of the new reviews call out the company for “bribing” their tenants for good scores.

Google user Jonny Semington left a review alleging the company is “a little shady when it comes to paying for gas and electric.”

“Only leaving a 4 star review for the $25 off of rent that they promised if you leave a 4 or 5 star review so take these recent reviews with a grain of salt,” Semington said.

Some one-star ratings from Tuesday were no longer visible on Google Reviews as of Wednesday morning.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

Randall Park did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Editor's note: This story was last updated at 10:33 a.m.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal