Citymove Pty Ltd is a popular city and interstate removalist company with a few bad habits. This is now the second time they have been caught out for publishing false consumer testimonials, and this time the penalty was a lot higher.
The ACCC issued three infringement notices to Citymove for allegedly fabricating consumer identities to post two identical testimonies on Google+ and Youtube. It is commonly known that positive testimonials can significantly increase rating and search results on Google Search and Google+. As a result of the fake testimonies Citymove’s rating appeared prominently at the top of the Google Search results when searching for removalists.
The use of fake testimonials can mislead consumers and disadvantage other competing companies. In some cases it can induce a customer to purchase a business’s product under a mistaken perception about the quality of the product or the business.
ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said that “Consumers should be able to trust that testimonials online are posted by genuine consumers about genuine experiences.” Given the consequences that fabricated testimonials can have, the ACCC sees this type of behaviour undertaken by some businesses as extremely risky as the ACCC is not afraid to harshly penalise. In this case, Citymove was ordered to pay a penalty of $30,600.
Although it may seem easy to create fake profiles and testimonials to appraise your business, the cracking down on this conduct is high on the 2015 priority list for the ACCC.
The penalties issued can be severe as well as the damage to the repute of your business. It is highly advised that all businesses, small, medium or large, rely on authentic consumer reviews and testimonies to promote their businesses and products.
For the full report from the ACCC click here