The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will investigate alleged abuses of customer reviews for “sharing economy” companies such as Uber and Airbnb.
The ACCC is concerned customer reviews may not be legitimate and hence amount to false advertising. Companies may also be deleting unfavourable reviews to better embellish the merits of a business.
Uber drivers could be particularly partial to the practise, as they require favourable reviews to remain with the ride-sharing platform.
There are consumer laws in place in Australia that prohibit businesses from making false or fabricated reviews of their businesses. And, it should be stressed, the law covers any online review site that invites testimonials, not just Uber and Airbnb.
ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard said of the investigation: “The sharing economy is a fantastic development and offers a range of benefits for consumers and businesses.
“However, operators of sharing economy platforms must make sure that they have appropriate policies to regulate the use of reviews to avoid misleading consumers.”
However, it is difficult to determine which reviews are bona fide and which have simply been made up. A number of travel websites in the past have been busted for falsifying customers’ vacation reviews.