Update: Part 2 Here. Arnas Stuopelis defends Hostinger's Trust Pilot Reviews and uses 'brand ambassadors' to manipulate communities.
It started with a seemingly innocuous comment responding to someone looking for a hosting recommendation.
So what's wrong here? Let's take a look at all those likes.
So the CEO, Head of Acquisition, former Customer Success Manager (and now running a review site promoting Hostinger), Head of Customer Service and Customer Success Specialist from the company all liked this status posted by a Junior Software Engineer at Hostinger. The followup comment by the Head of Acquisition, which links to their good reviews on TrustPilot, is also liked by the CEO and the Junior Software Engineer.
This seems a bit manipulative in a post asking for recommendations to have your employees all commenting/liking yourselves to give a false sense of popularity.
But how did we get here?
So a huge influx of Hostinger employees all showed up to participate in a poll asking which company was the community's favorite (hint: they voted for themselves). So their entire presence in this community was started because they wanted to manipulate a community vote to give themselves a false sense of popularity. Their manipulation got them a nice 4th place out of ~65 companies. Technically there wasn't a rule against voting for yourself and I'm sure other representatives from companies voted for themselves too, but not in such a massive group that the admins were commenting on it. But this adds context to why all these employees joined the community with regards to timing.
So what's the big deal?
Some of their employees are pretending to be customers and offering unsubstantiated (and clearly biased) comparisons against their competitors.
"Hey, checkout our TrustPilot score!" or "Look at this review comparing us to the heavyweights in the industry!"
At least there is a disclosure from this employee that he works there.
Problem is that the review is published by themselves (always a good comparison source). They also like to use TrustPilot again and pick negative reviews about their competitors. They like comparing themselves to SiteGround.
So they pick a negative review for SiteGround (and HostGator) and a positive review for themselves to highlight how the 'real users speak for themselves.' Except when you look at the overall score, SiteGround scores a 9.6/10 on TrustPilot versus Hostinger's 9.3/10. They probably don't want you to know that though. It doesn't fit the narrative when you actually have worse reviews than your competitor on your darling review site.
Hostinger is so focused on TrustPilot and how "real users" and "customer replies cannot lie."
Are you ready for the surprise?
So who is posting these glowing reviews about Hostinger on TrustPilot? It's none other than.... drumroll please.... themselves!
But wait, there's more!
So that glowing Trust Pilot score they are using to advertise their own service? Fake and manipulated. I guess their 'customers' (also known as their staff) can lie.
As a further bonus, as I was working on this article I was contacted by Paulius Zemaitis. The name might look familiar from the top of this article where he was liking their statuses. He used to work for Hostinger as a Customer Success Manager for nearly 4 years. Now he runs a review site called Hosting Review where you will be shocked to know he has ranked Hostinger as the #1 host. He was kind enough to try to buy sponsored content on Review Signal to promote his reviews. And when I called into question his integrity ranking his former employer as the best, he wrote "What kind of reviewer would I be if I placed Hostinger lower when it's cheaper, faster and more reliable than other hosts?"
000webhost is another brand owned/operated by Hostinger.
So I pointed out it's hard to trust anyone who pretends to be a customer of his own company and writes reviews for them while an employee there. I wondered if that posed any problems for him. He never responded.
Instead of behaving like an ethical company, they simply manipulated a community, a review site and a former employee created another review site which promotes them.
Whether they are technically competent is still unknown, but it's hard to think we as a community should be rewarding this type of behavior. It's beyond simply being overly self promotional, it's a operating a campaign to deceive consumers. It's hard to want to ever trust a company that thinks that is ok, especially when the CEO is often one of those people commenting on Facebook.
Of course, they got called out right as I was publishing this and their official response is just priceless.
Instead of simply punishing Hostinger for their bad behavior, I wanted to create something good as a result of this investigation. I reached out to a lot of thought leaders in the community to talk about the proper way for companies to engage with communities.
A Guide to Community Participation for Web Hosting Companies and Employees.
Their CEO, Arnas Stuopelis thinks this behavior is ok. Would rather Review Signal didn't exist to expose their bad behavior. Classy organization from the top down. By classy I mean fraudsters, obviously.
Latest posts by Kevin Ohashi (see all)
- Analyzing Digital Ocean’s First Major Move with Cloudways - February 28, 2023
- Removing old companies - June 28, 2021
- WordPress & WooCommerce Hosting Performance Benchmarks 2021 - May 27, 2021
Thanks for tipping me off to this post. I pulled my excessively long ranting post to the Facebook group and decided maybe to turn it into a blog post of my own, to follow up with my rant about TripAdvisor reviews. I was really just trying to call out TrustPilot as being a bad source, not so much Hostinger whom I’d never heard of outside that group and have no experience hosting with. Although their shill reviews certainly would keep me away.
Man, you’re stupid I see all these people are not hiding and show publicly that they Hostinger staff, it is written on their FB profiles and likedins. I see that they share and like colleagues posts simply because they love their company and they declare it publicly. You took my time to read things, I thought to get real review and now something that is captain obvious can only find…
Fake email address, check
Lithuanian IP where Hostinger is from, check
trying to defend posting fake reviews as a legitimate activity, check
Attacking me personally, check
Sounds like the Hostinger shill army is out in force. You guys just don’t learn do you?
You should really list out all the employees posting false reviews so their name gets indexed by Google. This shows what kind of person they really are to their future employers.
I bet all those shady providers are scared shitless if you’re doing a piece on them.
What Facebook group is it?
WordPress Hosting group. Their entire company has been subsequently banned for continued misbehavior. They started a program to get people to not disclose they represented Hostinger and spam positive comments about them. They even tried to post here, they had ~30 people coordinating spamming operations over slack. Their CEO tried to defend the policy and their entire company ended up banned. Just a classy organization, top to bottom. And by classy I mean garbage company with no ethics obviously.
Great article and content.
Thank you for your great work and effort on presenting valuable information in the industry Kevin.
Their replies in the end is one more proof of their shitty and shady behavior.
Hope many people who are thinking to buy their service will reach this article and will not trust their fake reviews.
Pretty sure Lyrical Host is doing the same thing, at least creating fake Facebook/Twitter profiles and using them to recommend their own service.
Thank god you saved me, I was about to purchase there 48month hosting plan, thank you to myself for last minute decision, I thought of doing some more research and find your website,
I am fed up of all most all hosting providers, find out good reviews about hostinger so decided to go for long term, but your post saved me thank you
Thanks for this one review that seems fair and truthful. I have been searching for reviews about Hostinger as I was ready to take the plunge for a 48 month plan and was all ready to purchase it. However, I was hesitant that I couldn’t find one single negative review about a service and that was triggering alarm bells. I wrote to their Customer Support about a Sales query and it has been 4 days and I haven’t yet received any reply from them (Imagine – a Sales query going unattended for 4 days). And that too – when the Support system is being touted as the best!
It is really irritating that most of the Reviews about Hosting are all positive and seem to be advertised based. TrustPilot is one service that I can never trust.
I am glad you found this article. They truly aren’t to be trusted and are run by a scammy CEO who knowingly deceives people and encourages his staff to follow his lead. There is a lot of terrible behavior in this space but Hostinger is one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. Good job dodging a bullet.
You are SO correct. I brought over my email from HostGator and although I was at 20% of storage, I’m at 100% of emails. Fuck this company. It’s a fraud.
Hi! Thank you for your honest review. I’m a customer of Hostinger for just over a year and I sadly got sucked in by all the positive reviews.
That said, I will say I have had a positive experience with them. I originally changed hosts from Godaddy which were just awful although the site I was running was incredibly small at the time.
Once my site started to grow it was time to move and move quickly from Godaddy. I decided to move to SiteGround but sadly for me it just wasn’t right for my site. I had serious issues with my database due to running on a seriously outdated version of MySQL with Godaddy, which caused huge issues. SiteGround were sadly not able to sort this technical issue out for me and in all honesty didn’t really care.
This is where I came across hostinger from the reviews. They were able to resolve this issue with their version of MariaDB and sort my database issues out. So far the site is very good and is expanding well with growth. Granted TTFB is a little bit meh, averaging around 200ms.
The only issue I’ve found so far which really bugs me! Is when you hit an issue, customer service always say “you need to upgrade your plan, as you have reached your resources” when I’m using around 35% of them. Godaddy were prolific in this tactic also.
I am considering moving from hostinger now given the companies morales. Granted they have been good for me and my site but I feel a little uncomfortable with their not so real reviews.
Do you have any recommendations that are similar in spec and price to Hostinger?
The only thing that surprises me is how Google hasn’t blacklisted them.
A site with over 60 thousand backlinks most of which are just garbage tier paid for or (looking above) likely self linked.
How can such obvious behaviour avoid any consequences?