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How to avoid bogus online product and service reviews

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Online shopping is increasingly being preferred by customers for the convenience it offers in addition to time and cost savings. However, customers are also relying on online reviews to make their purchasing decisions.

These comments and reviews are placed either on the website of the product or service provider or merchant, or on independent websites that have been created solely for the purpose of providing objective reviews. As they grow in terms of their influence on purchasing decisions, reviews and testimonials are also resulting in unscrupulous practices.

This problem has attracted the attention of the ACCC, which checks to ensure reviews are truly written by actual customers.

In a recent instance, the agency lodged a formal complaint in Federal Court against the franchise operation Electrodry Carpet Cleaning, a company that specialises in cleaning and maintenance services of carpet, drapes, grout, upholstery and mattresses.

The ACCC's complaint stated that the (Electrodry) testimonials were written and posted by people associated with, or contracted to Electrodry and not by its genuine clients as the testimonials implied.

It is generally pretty obvious when a review paints such a rosy picture that it could not possibly be completely true, just as it is hard to imagine that a company could stay in business when negative reviews are far out of proportion to reality.

ACCC’s action in the interest of potential customers in this particular instance needs to be appreciated; however, the prospect of putting a complete halt to the practice of posting phony reviews and testimonials is farfetched.

Unfortunately, due to the actions of a few unscrupulous operators, a valuable consumer resource such as online reviews is tarnished and unreliable.

POSMarket.com.au is a leading online supplier of a wide range of Point of sale equipment and software.

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