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Google Places Reviews Missing? Join the Club...

This just in... (/sarc)
There have been a lot of questions about reviews lately in the forum, and we wanted to address some of the more common ones. But before we dive in, keep in mind that we’re very much aware of all the issues that you’re experiencing, and we’re working hard to overhaul and improve our reviews system so that you stop experiencing these issues. Yes, it’s going to take time, and we know that can be frustrating. But we hope the work we’re putting into long-term fixes today will significantly improve your experience soon.
You don't say? This has actually been an ongoing issue with Google Places since... well, basically the beginning. Formerly the Google Local Business Center, Google Places officially announced their launch on April 20, 2010 and complaints about reviews going missing were common within months. The issues persisted through 2011 and here we are well in to 2012 with the same problems and Google is now saying that lately there have been questions in the forums about missing  reviews. Nice. The answers probably won't placate most business owners, but Google did at least make an effort to explain some of the more common problems people are asking about before they direct you to the forums for any other questions: Google Places Review Q&As On the page you'll find that you can expand each of those questions for a detailed response (notice I didn't say solution?), but what I think most of us are looking for is some type of action we can take to get our missing reviews back on Google Places. Unfortunately, here's what they're currently telling us:
How do I get them back on my listing?
There’s no way currently to quickly, easily and absolutely get your reviews back on to your listing. If we dropped them during a reconciliation process, you’ll see them reappear after a few days. Other than that, there’s not much our support team can to do to ensure they get reinstated. Fixing this is a priority for us, and we’re working on long-term solutions to resolve most of these cases.
Long term solutions, eh? Well, I guess no one could accuse them of coming up with a quick fix! In fairness, why put a band-aid on a stab wound while you're still plunging the knife in to your victim. Okay, that's a little dramatic, especially given that Google Places is a free service and Google really has no obligation to help any other business owners. But you get my point. They're talking about working hard on their top priority of finding solutions to these review problems... But the problems are years old, and these people have been busy launching silly Google Maps awareness games. One would think that a search engine with the goal of providing the most relevant search results to its users would be dealing with important matters like this before "games", but I digress. Long story short, at the moment Google is long on explanations but short on solutions. There's some indication that many reviews, if they weren't spam, should eventually show up in your listing again. In the meantime, it seems like the best thing you can do is get more legitimate reviews. Google provides detailed criteria explaining why reviews may be removed or considered spam as a guide for what not to do, but there's nothing wrong with encouraging customers to leave you reviews. Just the other day kconti at Mednet Tech wrote a post about getting more Google Places reviews specifically for Medical Practices, but the techniques generally apply universally, especially #4 and #5:

4) Reach out on Social Media

If you’re active on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, reach out to your fans and followers. Post links to your Google Places listing encouraging patients to post reviews.

5) Send an Email Blast

Do you currently ask for an email address on patient forms? If not, this is a great opportunity to reach all patients at once with practice news or information. Send out an email blast, with a link to your Google Places listing, asking satisfied patients to post reviews.
So Google Places support may not be particularly helpful at the moment and they aren't promising a resolution for missing reviews on any specific date, but that doesn't mean there aren't steps you can take while they work out the bugs. I think my pal Andy Dufresne said it best - it comes down to a simple choice: