The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against A Whistle (1979) Pty Ltd, the franchisor of the Electrodry Carpet Cleaning business, alleging that it was involved in the posting of fake online testimonials.
Electrodry is a franchised business that provides carpet, drapery, grout, upholstery and mattress cleaning services with over 100 franchises in Australia.
The ACCC alleges that Electrodry:
- made false or misleading representations by a contractor, acting as Electrodry’s agent or at its direction, posting fake testimonials relating to Electrodry Carpet Cleaning on the internet; and
- induced or attempted to induce its franchisees to make false or misleading representations by posting fake testimonials on the internet.
The ACCC alleges that Electrodry’s conduct resulted in fake testimonials that appeared on a number of review sites, including Google and True Local. It is alleged that the testimonials were written and posted by people associated with, or contracted to, Electrodry, and not by its genuine clients as the testimonials implied.
“Consumer issues in the online marketplace continue to be an ACCC priority,” ACCC Deputy Chair Michael Schaper said.
“While online testimonials can be a useful and genuine marketing tool, it is important that online businesses understand that making or inducing false or misleading representations about testimonials breaches the Australian Consumer Law.”
The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, injunctions and corrective notices.