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Local business warns others of questionable online reviews

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-28 15:15:56-04

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- A local business owner wants other small companies to be aware of questionable online reviews, which could cripple a business.

"I’m very passionate about this issue at this point, it destroyed my business, it hurt my family, it hurt other families," said Andrew Summers, Owner of Say It With Beef.

The idea came to Andrew Summers when he needed a gift for a sick coworker.

"It was a guy who worked on muscle cars in his spare time, and I was like what do you get someone when they’re sick, flowers, what do you get for that kind of guy?" said Summers.

He created Say It With Beef at the end of 2016, selling floral arrangements made from beef jerky.

"I had saved up a sizable amount of money when I was working at my corporate job and invested that into the business, my parents took out money from their retirement," said Summers.

After the Say It With Beef product went viral online on Valentines Day, Summers says they immediately received about 700 orders.

"I had to stop taking orders, hire a bunch of, poach a bunch of youth group kids, ramp up production," said Summers.

He says he noticed a similar business pop up online during his hiatus.

"I went from being number one in Google search results for beef jerky flowers, jerky roses, and the other search terms, to he’s number one," said Summers.

Summers, coming from a computer science background, believes a competitor posted questionable reviews on their website to gain traction.

"When Google indexes your site it says oh this person has 2,000 reviews, then you get up-ranked," said Summers.

The lack of internet attention meant fewer sales, forcing him to close. The Tulsa Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages consumers to read both positive and negative reviews, and avoid anonymous posts.

"If you’re looking at an anonymous reviewer then they may be bots, or bought, paid for reviews and you want to try and avoid those," said Shannon Spainhour, Director of Communications for Tulsa BBB.

Summers hopes other small businesses become aware of this, so they don't end up in his position.

To learn more about what services BBB offers to local businesses, check out their website.

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