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Farewell fake online reviews! Consumer watchdog announces crackdown

"This is 100% the best news ever, A+++ would read again" -- genuine not-fake reader.


There's nothing as hellish as trawling through online comments trying to find accurate reviews -- from "A+++ would stay again" to "Garbage hotel for garbage people!"

Now the ACCC is cracking down on misleading online reviews, sweeping sites to ensure they're upfront about how reviews are published and to make sure the reviews themselves are accurate.

The ACCC is also paying close attention to sharing economy platforms in Australia (think Airbnb or Uber). And considering the meteoric rise of the sharing economy in Australia and around the world, it's good to see the consumer watchdog taking an interest in how providers and customers review services in this growing industry.

The deputy chair of the ACCC Delia Rickard is positive about the sharing economy, but says even these small players (and, in some cases, individuals offering services) still need to do the right thing by their customers.

"Operators of sharing economy platforms must make sure that they have appropriate policies to regulate the use of reviews to avoid misleading consumers," she said.

And for anyone operating a business that stakes its name on online reviews, Rickard says the ACCC has three simple messages.

"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," she said.

Hopefully that means getting a better idea of which websites are honest in their reviews, and which hotels are really just garbage.