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AFTA Compliance Tip of the Month

Online reviews and endorsements - what not to do

Online Reviews and Endorsements

The ACCC is currently participating in the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN)’s annual internet sweep, with this year’s focus on ‘Online Reviews and Endorsements’ which is a timely reminder of your obligations in this area.

The Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from making or inducing false or misleading representations through testimonials or reviews. The ACCC has taken numerous enforcement actions against businesses that have done the wrong thing including:

  • A $30,600 penalty against a furniture removalist that used fabricated customer identities to post two testimonials on Google+ and one testimonial on YouTube; and

  • A $215,000 penalty against a carpet cleaning business for its involvement in the publishing of fake testimonials on YouTube.

Best practice to avoid misleading reviews

  • Be transparent about commercial relationships and don’t let these influence the order in which reviews are published;
  • Don’t post or publish misleading reviews; and
  • Editing or deleting unfavourable reviews may be misleading.

Tips for businesses

The following is considered to be misleading. You should not:

  • encourage family and friends to write reviews about your business without disclosing their personal connection with your business in that review
  • write reviews when you have not experienced the good or service reviewed or which do not reflect a genuinely held opinion
  • solicit others to write reviews about your business or a competitor’s business if they have not experienced the good or service.

For more information the ACCC has produced guidance for businesses regarding online reviews which is available at the link below.

Online reviews—a guide for business and review platforms