Have you ever visited a 5-star reviewed restaurant only to be dished up 1-star cuisine? Or maybe you’ve paid for a “perfect” plumber, only to receive a bog-standard service.
Fortunately, under new plans from the UK government, this could soon become a thing of the past.
If the proposals become law, it will be illegal to commission or submit a bogus review for a product or service, and businesses will be expected to take reasonable steps to ensure that the reviews that they are hosting are genuine.
If found guilty, the punishment – enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – could see businesses fined up to 10% of their global annual turnover, as well as consumers being awarded compensation.
“Consumers deserve better, and the majority of businesses out there doing the right thing deserve protection from rogue traders undermining them,” explained Paul Scully, the Consumer Minister.
Online reviews and their influence
It’s easy to see why the government is clamping down. They report that the average UK household spends around £900 a year thanks to online reviews.
This influence has no doubt been fueled by the growth in online shopping – accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s very positive to see action to tackle the avalanche of fake reviews that undermine confidence in online shopping and tougher powers for the CMA to protect consumers from rogue companies that consistently flout the law – including the ability to fine firms directly,” said Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy.
When will this become law?
It’s uncertain at the moment.
According to the government, “New measures requiring legal changes, such as tackling fake reviews, will come into effect on a commencement date that will follow parliamentary approval.”
So watch this space!
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