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Why Local Milton Keynes Businesses Should Avoid Posting Their Own Customer Reviews

Local Milton Keynes Businesses should avoid posting customer reviews or posing as a customer to add a review to their site or on a third party website in order to boost their online reputation.

This practice, referred to by the term “astroturfing“, is pervasive online, with certain industries having a bigger problem than others.

Local Milton Keynes Businesses Need To Avoid Posting Customer Reviews On Their Own Websites

How far will you go to get good customer reviews?

But the law, particularly in the UK, is very clear. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 makes it a criminal offence for businesses to hold themselves out or to represent themselves in anyway as consumers or to engage in any type of marketing that is misleading or untrue.

Transgressors face an unlimited fine or up to two years imprisonment.

The practice has also civil law consequences. It is a clear breach of the provisions of the Misrepresentation Act. The Act entitles a party to a contract to cancel the agreement and walk away with possible compensation if the innocent party to the contract suffers financial loss and he or she is found to have relied on that false statement or misrepresentation when they entered into the agreement.

Businesses of all sizes have been shown to astroturf. Large companies spend huge sums of money and resources to building up online reputation, some going to extreme lengths for market exposure and to stand out from the crowd.  But as Gavin Brook of PR company Spada explained in The Guardian, the impact of an astrofurfer being exposed can be terminal.

 

Astroturfing & Why Local Milton Keynes Businesses Should Tread Very Carefully

The impact of exposure as an astroturfer is not to be taken lightly, says Gavin Ingham Brooke, of PR company Spada. “Being uncovered as an astroturfer would be terminal,” says Ingham Brooke. “Corporates and professional services firms build their brands on trust, ethics and personal relationships as opposed to product attributes. A few false reviews for a new product or item may be easily forgotten, whereas the value clients place on peer reviews means that falsifying reviews could damage the firm irreparably.”

How, though, to counter false reviews? In the travel sector especially, the problem has grown to epidemic proportions. Allegations of dirty tricks abound on quality review websites as hotels and restaurants use the sites to attack rivals or boost their own ratings by posting fake reviews.

One solution has been pioneered by Eviivo, an online hotel booking company. “We’ve set up a system whereby the only people who can post reviews of hotels on our site, bookdirectrooms.com, are those who’ve actually stayed at the hotels,” says Simon Walsh, Eviivo’s strategy director. “It’s proved a huge success in combating astroturfing.”The impact of exposure as an astroturfer is not to be taken lightly, says Gavin Ingham Brooke, of PR company Spada. (read the original article here)

So while the practice is rife online, adding customer reviews to your website or on a third party website, when they are not genuine customer reviews, should be avoided at all costs, not just because it is unlawful, but because it’s also in breach of Google’s terms of service. Which means that your site could be sandbagged or de-list from the search engines.

If you would like to discuss alternative and safe options for posting customer reviews, or what to position your business’s online reputation for maximum impact and benefit from a search engine and reputation perspective, call us today for a free consultation.

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