Many online retailers implement an on-site “review” section of their website where customers are able to submit their comments/reviews of a product being sold. In other cases, businesses may choose to receive feedback via social media websites such as Facebook.
While this is a great way to receive honest feedback about products and hopefully convince new customers to make a purchase, it also brings with it liability under the Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) 2010 (the Act) for misleading and deceptive conduct.
Falsified reviews or testimonials can result in thousands of dollars’ worth of infringement notices being issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In 2011, the ACCC brought about an action against a business for falsified testimonials that it posted on its’ website, hitting it with a $6600 infringement notice.
This position is emphasised by the ACCC its website in that it considers any sponsored or paid reviews must be clearly disclosed and reviews should reflect a genuine opinion.
However, misleading and deceptive conduct under the Act be extended further. Though a business may not make false claims about its’ own product outright, the way in which a business monitors its’ reviews can be misleading and deceptive under Act.
By providing a means for genuine users to review your products, you must take the good with the bad – the ACCC highlights that omitting and editing reviews, especially negative ones, can create an overall misleading image of your products or company. It is important to have a content moderation policy available to your online users so that they understand what kind of content you moderate.
If you require advice in drafting a content moderation policy, or seek advice about your liabilities under Australian Consumer Law in general, contact Gladwin Legal on or 1300 033 934.