Online reviews are a great way for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, but reviews should be independent and genuine. Reviews should only be written by those who have actually experienced the product or service and reflect their genuinely held opinion.
Writing fake or misleading reviews is against the law. You should not ask others, including family and third parties, to write reviews about your business without prominently disclosing their personal connection or commercial relationship with your business in that review.
If you offer incentives to customers to encourage them to provide reviews, these incentives must be equally applicable to both positive and negative reviews and be prominently disclosed.
If your business receives a fake review, you should notify the review platform immediately and request that the review be removed. You can also respond to the review directly in a professional manner to correct the public record. Businesses and review platforms that do not remove reviews that they know to be fake risk breaching the Australian Consumer Law.
Service Seeking Pty Ltd is an online tasking platform, where customers can seek quotes for jobs such as gardening, building or cleaning services from businesses registered with the platform.
Service Seeking allowed the businesses on its platform to use a template to draft their own reviews and give themselves their own star ratings of jobs the businesses had done, and send these on to their customers. If the customer did not respond to the business’ review within 3 days, the review was automatically published on Service Seeking’s platform.
Following ACCC action, the Federal Court ordered Service Seeking to pay $600,000 in penalties for making false or misleading representations regarding reviews of businesses which were offering services on the platform.
Read more in the Service Seeking ACCC media release
Watch our short video explaining online reviews