If you shop online, then you probably do a bit of research on different websites. This means that you might read testimonials or comments from other users on websites or Facebook pages that belong to the shopping site.
But the court of public opinion online can be notoriously unreliable when it comes to both good and bad reviews, and there are a couple of examples of this happening at the moment.
As most savvy online shoppers know, it’s important to research a website before taking the plunge and buying something as many forums contain feedback from other buyers and can alert you to potential problems such as delivery, warranty, refunds and so on.
But what if the comments are fake?
If a business uses public testimonials or other comments on its Facebook page, website, YouTube videos or via Twitter pages it is responsible if they are false, misleading or deceptive. It may not be responsible for the initial publication of the fake comments, but they must be removed according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The regulator took action against a company and its been fined for the practice and ordered to publish corrective advertising.
While this case relates to positive reviews, bad reviews can also cause headaches. In the US, travel site TripAdvisor is threatened with being sued because of bad reviews and has had to defend accusations that its reviews and opinions are not written by real travellers. Hotels, restaurants and other travel providers are unhappy that their businesses can be tarnished by bad reviews and want to take action against what they see as unfair, unbalanced, inaccurate or even defamatory reviews.
How much are you influenced by the positive comments and feedback on web sites?