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Published on Monday, March 2, 2015

Government probe into online reviews



The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a probe into online review sites to check the information posted is 'genuine, relevant and trustworthy'.


The travel industry is being asked to submit its experiences - good or bad - as part of the CMA's 'call for information'. The deadline for responses is March 25.


A spokesman confirmed that the authority was interested in receiving information from all sectors including hotels, tour operators and agents.


The CMA said reviews and blogs were playing a growing role in helping consumers to make shopping decisions, including finding hotels.


But it said there were a number of potential concerns about the trustworthiness or impartiality of information in some reviews and endorsements that are being provided to consumers.


Hotels and tour operators have previously complained about fictitious or malicious reviews posted by customers or rivals.


One hotel in Blackpool went to the extreme of charging a couple £100 extra after they left a poor review on TripAdvisor, saying it was in the small print of its booking form.


Nisha Arora, CMA senior director, consumer, said: "The information contained in online reviews and endorsements can be a powerful force in the hands of consumers.


"Businesses have always known that 'word of mouth' is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this. However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy.


"We are calling on consumers, businesses, review sites, bloggers and others who play important roles in this sector to help us understand how well it is working before we consider whether further action is needed."


Click here to submit a response.


In a recent TravelMole guest comment, Richard Harrison, managing director UK for Reputation.com, said hoteliers should embrace guest reviews, even the bad ones.


 

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  • what a complete waste of time & money

    online reviews have always been dodgy. We get emails every week from India I think, saying we can give you 1,000 +ve reviews & your opposition 1,000 negative reviews for $x. Unfortunately, you can never stop this + you get those on sub beer budget expecting champagne service at the 1 star hotel, who will complain every single time about everything, as not up to their "standard"

    By Michael Anderson, Monday, March 30, 2015

  • Trip advisor was formulated by Expedia

    For the express reason to drive traffic to their web site, and increase business which it did. It was never planned as a social media type website. Nor was it planned to create professional reviewers, which it also achieved. Beware any place where there are dozens of reviews in a short time frame. So many places solicit reviews these days, or (like one hotel chain) create their own!

    By Paul Davis, Friday, March 6, 2015

  • Keep them coming!

    Thanks Andrew, Richard, Keith for your comments. We're interested to hear about everyone's experiences of online reviews and endorsements. If you have any other experiences of reviews that you wish to share, we'll keep an eye on the comments here, or you can tell us via our website www.gov.uk/cma

    By George Brenton, Thursday, March 5, 2015

  • Feefo welcomes the "Government probe into online reviews"

    Feefo has only ever collected reviews from verified consumers who have used a product or service. Reviews are now an integral part of any consumers" research and purchasing decisions, which is why we insist that all users have completed the purchasing path. Feefo has over 2000 retail partners ranging from global travel providers to bespoke tailors. These partners actively encourage customers or guests to review them honestly and openly. The results give suppliers rich data to further understand their market. False, dishonest and irrelevant reviews would just skew this outcome. Why should unqualified shoppers be allowed to comment on services and products that they have not fully experienced? We welcome this probe and hope its scope is wide and far reaching. Andrew Mabbutt, CEO Feefo

    By Andrew Mabbutt, Tuesday, March 3, 2015

  • Dodgy reviews

    Sadly, review sites are becoming less reliable, I have read review after review on loads of hotels right up to the very best London hotels and concluded that if you believe them all, then the perfect hotel doesn't exist anywhere on the planet because people are always looking for something to moan about. Some saddo's feel powerful these days often leaving scathing comments even for minor errors such as accidentally being served the wrong drink or finding a blown bulb in the room, it's pathetic and very damaging. I don't believe reviews are policed despite what the likes of TA say, I don't think it's possible to police them. I think everyone should have to pay a small charge to leave a review, (that would go automatically to a charity), maybe that will discourage the 'professional' reviewers. Review sites could be so valuable and help up the standards but sadly they've been abused by a minority that I think now casts a question mark over their value.

    By Keith Standen, Monday, March 2, 2015

  • Once you allow people to write whatever they want...

    ...then people will write whatever they want. Most people will write sensible articles but there will always be some who write untrue submissions to falsely boost (or denounce) a facility. But the laws of libel apply online as well as elsewhere, and so those making false derogatory statements could be sued for libel. Those who post falsely flattering articles are a more tricky problem - although they could be guilty of fraud. But who would prosecute them?

    By Richard English, Monday, March 2, 2015

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