Company fined for false online testimonials

31st August 2015 - Melbourne - An Australian moving company has paid a fine of 30.000 AUD to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for making false online testimonials.

The fine followed three infringement notices from the ACCC, who had reason to believe that the company was making false and misleading testimonials on Google+ and YouTube, which contravenes the Australian Consumer Law. According to ACCC Deputy Chair Dr. Michael Schaper, “businesses that post testimonials using fabricated customer identities risk enforcement action by the ACCC.”

Zero tolerance towards fake reviews
It is crucial that consumers can trust online reviews and the example from Australia shows that companies risk penalties if they engage in fraudulent behaviour. At Trustpilot, we have a zero tolerance policy toward fake reviews and we invest heavily in detecting and removing them. Moreover, Trustpilot recently kick-started conversations with the online review industry in the UK to develop an agreed trust standard that protects both businesses and consumers alike.

How Trustpilot deals with fake reviews

  1. Trustpilot uses customised, advanced detection software to identify fraudulent reviews on its platform.

  2. To support the software, Trustpilot employs a 35 strong Compliance Team which is growing year on year. Together with the software, the team investigates more than 20,000 reviews each month.

  3. Trustpilot has a flagging option, which enables both consumers and businesses to flag reviews should they not comply with the business or user guidelines.the The Compliance Team then assesses each flagged review. The community’s  feedback is greatly appreciated,  and it is a key part of combating fabricated reviews.

  4. Trustpilot has a Whistle Blower function. This means that anyone who notices fraudulent behaviour on the platform can contact Trustpilot directly for further assessment.

  5. Trustpilot also posts consumer alerts on company profiles where substantial fraudulent behaviour has been identified.

  6. Advertisements from solicitors of fabricated reviews are systematically monitored and Trustpilot reports them to the site-host to make sure they are removed.

  7. Finally, Trustpilot terminates contracts with companies who continuously do not comply with the guidelines and blocks users from the community.

About the ACCC
According to the ACCC’s website, their “primary responsibility is to ensure that individuals and businesses comply with Australian competition, fair trading, and consumer protection laws - in particular the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.” The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published its guide for business and review platforms in 2013.

About Trustpilot
Founded in 2007 by CEO Peter Holten Mühlmann, Trustpilot is a global, multi-language review community that builds trust and transparency between consumers and businesses. Currently boasting more than 14 million consumer reviews of 115,000 businesses, Trustpilot produces a TrustScore for businesses based on recent reviews. Every day, more than 10,000 consumers sign up on Trustpilot, and every month, 500,000 new reviews are posted on the community.

Trustpilot has customers in 65 countries and has developed strong positions in Denmark, Sweden, the UK, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the US The company is located in New York, London, Copenhagen and Melbourne, and its employee base has increased from 168 people in 2013 to its current count of more than 400 employees representing 40 nationalities.

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