Fake reviews crackdown

The ACCC is assessing the review policies of sharing economy platforms, as part of an international sweep targeting online reviews and endorsements.

The news comes following analysis by CHOICE on fake reviews last year that found 20 long form reviews can be purchased for as little as $31 and 5,000 Instagram followers can be tacked on for just $75.

Have you seen fake online reviews?


This practice of buying “likes” for a product has been going on for quite awhile . I’m glad somebody has decided to do something about it . I never trust dedicated product review forums for the reasons given above


As a forum moderator for a solar company, I have seen plenty of attempts to post fake reviews, either by people associated with the company (but pretending to be a customer) in Australia, or someone from the main spamming operators in countries such as India, Pakistan, Philippines etc, employed to post them.
However, such incidences have decreased remarkably in the past couple of years, and I now I might only see a few per year…


On the other side of Reviews is the hapless business owner, who is subject to fake bad reviews from a competitor posing as a customer. This has happened to me and on Google+, for example, it can’t be erased. Nor can the account. I don’t read reviews for this and other reasons.

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I use online reviews to get an idea of the product, and always check as many sites as I can since the fake review is not only used by competitors, but also the manufacturer/ supplier.
As such I am very interested to see what form of control we could introduce to ensure reviewers and their reviews are legitimate.
Good luck with this one.


Another good one is Nutrimetics (NM’s)… the cosmetics company now owned by Sara Lee … I think.
When a new product is flouted, NM’s will have an endorsement from someone , usually a woman, who just happens to be using the product for quite a while - getting rid of wrinkles are common - and then gives a resounding positive review.
It’s a bit hard to believe that a cream/solution can eliminate wrinkles overnight, let alone in months.
I spoke to a NM’s consultant about this phenomena and her reply was “We all do it”. Presuming that all companies make up these so-called endorsements to flout their products.
Evidently cosmetic companies are masters in deception. Helena Rubenstein, e.g. for every dollar that passes over the retail counter, 85¢ is spent on advertising, so presume that the advertising could be called into question esp. if endorsements are by the invisible, non-existent tester/user.

One site I do trust is just called Product Reviews, and reviews anything and everything. It will publish all reviews, positive and negative. I know, because I have written a couple of bad reviews myself which they posted.


I used to think that it was pretty easy to spot fake online reviews but my boss posts fake product reviews on our website constantly and they’re really believable. Take reviews with a grain of salt!

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I was recently directed to a couple of reviews on a site that looked believable, that’s because they were copy and pasted from my employers web site!

Google reviews for businesses are the worst. We get great reviews consistently on all other platforms, however on Google, we continually receive one star reviews. The problem is, these are highly visible and we can’t do anything about them. Google’s solution is for us to encourage all our staff to leave positive 5 star reviews (which we aren’t going to do).

How can you rely on a large review site (Google) where staff from a business are encouraged to write favourable reviews and all the other negative reviews don’t match the reality?

I’ve noticed this when selecting restaurants using google. Now I just find a type of cuisine we’d like to try in the area and use google to find it without reading the reviews which rarely matched our experiences.

At least on a site like tripadvisor, it is easy to see if a reviewer is more reliable, so reviews there are more useful.


Are you sure Google actually recommended staff to leave 5* reviews? Did you get anything in writing from them saying that? That would be encouraging illegal behaviour.

I think that for reviews to be believable they need to be from verified customers, and not someone with a vested interest - either in leaving good, or bad reviews. I have seen customer verification on review sites before, so it can be done.

That was from the call centre staff member who rang me after I made an enquiry about another issue. She pointed out a review with 1 star and said we should respond to reviews and also to get staff to leave the positive reviews and ratings. I’m sure they’re not going to have that in writing anywhere.

OK, impossible to prove if not in writing. A colleague sent me this:

Google’s guidelines:

We’ll remove content that violates any of the content policies below:……

“Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and
unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer.”


Still, it is going to be quite difficult to detect how prevalent this might be already, which unfortunately devalues reviews in general- how to know which ones you can trust?

I have seen some obvious fake reviews on retailers websites, but if I really want too find out about a product I use Product Review Australia, in fact I’m a member off that site and regularly write reviews on it if I really like or dislike a product or service.
Some off the fake ones are easy too spot especially if the have the same wording.


Another point I always consider with online review sites is that the human being is basically a lazy creature . We buy a product , service etc all goes well , we generally never want to "shout from the roof tops " what a good buy service etc we have obtained . When the product is defective , not up to expectations , shoddy etc we want to tell the world . We hit the forums .Dont buy this product , use this service etc . I am guilty of this .I have a Fisher and Paykel washing machine . 3 1/2 years old , thrashed the living hell out of it . Used daily , uniforms , heavy towel loads etc .Never misses a beat . Did I ever contribute on a forum how good it was . NO . If I had of purchased it and the motor burnt out in a month I would have worn the keyboard out on my computer on every forum saying "Don’t by this machine " Human nature I’m afraid. Forums can tend to be one sided at times often favouring the bad . That’s why I hope this forum is successful as it will give a balanced opinion on issues covered


I have a small business and set up a Google Business page. Worst thing I ever did. Someone put up a review that was damaging. It was obvious to me from the content of the review that he/she (anonymous) had never purchased from my business. The review was clearly intended to be deliberately damaging. I can only suspect a competitor. Google refuse to take it down. They also refuse to close the page. It remains forever damaging my business.

@topsi4 Iagree you should have the right to take that page down . Google , Facebook and YouTube are very quick to act on any content they perceive to be damaging their business identity by taking it down and banning it . Why should you not have the same right ? They will probably hit you with " Terms of Service " and such agreements . Threaten them with legal action .They will back down as their "Terms of Service " don’t stand up .

Yes, it’s unfair that the act of setting up a page on these media mammoths means that anybody, for whatever reason, can write a malicious comment, and you have no way to protect yourself from the subsequent ongoing damage to your business. I did contact Google but to no avail. It’s apparently in the small print that I agreed to when setting the page up. There’s no way out. I think they’re a law unto themselves. I don’t recommend anybody set up a business page on Google.


@topsi4 Let us hope others read of your experience and take note . You are right , they are a law unto themselves . Well at least for the moment .

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As part of my job I keep an eye on reviews, and was astounded at the huge number of glowing 4 and 5 star reviews that have appeared in the past week or so for a particular solar company on Product Review, and even more amazing is that it is coincident with a heavy prime time TV advertising campaign by that company!

I suspect Choice don’t want me to mention names for legal reasons, so I wont :wink: