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Managing online reviews – the ACCC clamps down

25 July 2014

More and more consumers are turning to the internet for advice and assurance before purchasing a product or service.  Online review sites are becoming increasingly popular and in many ways are replacing word of mouth referral.  Consumers then defer to these sites before they make a final decision about a wide variety of products and services ranging from accommodation and restaurants to appliances and tradesmen. Businesses can use these sites to their advantage by highlighting positive customer testimonials.  As positive reviews can result in substantial increases in business, it is important not to be tempted to tip the scales in your favour by engaging in less than transparent practices when soliciting customer feedback.

Writing (negative) reviews about a competitor's business when you have not experienced the good or service, offering incentives for positive feedback for your business and encouraging family and friends to write glowing endorsements for your services are just some of the examples cited by the ACCC as contravening the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). If the review is not genuine, as it is intended to influence the reader, it is likely to be misleading and deceptive.

The same applies to any review posted on your own website which is not genuine or which is enhanced or taken out of context.  The ACCC have taken action against several businesses who have engaged in that conduct and we would expect them to continue to monitor that space.

For more information please contact:

Andrew Nicholson | Partner
Mullins Lawyers
t +61 7 3224 0261
f +61 7 3224 0333
anicholson@mullinslaw.com.au

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