Are you a fearless smartphone warrior, poised to praise
or ditch a product on social media with a swipe of your finger? Why
bother emailing a restaurant to complain about an uppity waitress
when you can go on TripAdvisor and tell everyone the place
While you may believe that online reviews are impartial
assessments of a product's merits, the ACCC isn't quite so
Consumer reviews have become an important platform for promoting
businesses. A recent report suggests that 74% of social media users
are reading online reviews before making a purchase. So it
isn't surprising that some businesses are paying for or posting
The ACCC has released its first set of
guidance materials relating to online product reviews for
businesses and review platforms (like Urbanspoon or TripAdvisor).
The aim is to increase transparency for consumers by addressing the
issue of businesses who use social media as an online battlefield
by posting fake positive reviews of their product or rubbishing a
competitor. Under the Australian Consumer Law, this type of
activity is considered to be misleading and deceptive and is
punishable by heavy fines of up to $1.1 million.
What are the main points to take away from the ACCC
Be transparent about commercial relationships
– Your favourite blogger is probably paid for raving about
the latest statement handbag. The ACCC tells us that commercial
relationships between businesses and the reviewer or the review
platform must be disclosed.
Don't post or publish misleading reviews
– The ACCC makes special reference to the fact that
businesses should not encourage family and friends to write reviews
about the business without disclosing their connection; businesses
should not write reviews about another business if they have not
experienced the good or service; and soliciting others to write
reviews about your business if they haven't tried the good or
service is a definite no-no. If you run a platform and know a
review is dodgy, you should take it down.
Omitting negative reviews can be as misleading as
posting fake reviews – Removing most of the negative
reviews of a business in exchange for that business advertising on
your site is seriously bad.
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The Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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