The Competition and Markets Authority has updated its advice to all online review sites - including those for estate agencies and other property players - to ensure greater transparency for consumers.
It also says it has opened investigations into some unspecified sites and companies and will issue a statement on them in the coming weeks. It is not saying whether those under investigation include agency or property industry review sites.
At the start of this year Estate Agent Today reported that the CMA had prioritised a project to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of online review websites - a hot issue for the agency industry, as the number of review sites has increased in recent years.
In June last year it called for evidence from interested parties for its preliminary investigation and yesterday the authority released its new guidelines.
It was particularly interested in review websites for the DIY/trades and care home sectors, and the CMA lists five sites in these sectors with which it has had discussions and secured changes to practices.
But the CMA says more companies and sites - in unspecified sectors - are under the spotlight. “We have opened investigations into a number of companies involved in reviews and endorsements, and expect to make further announcements about these in the coming weeks” says Nisha Arora, CMA senior director.
“Millions of people look at online reviews and endorsements before making buying decisions, and so it is crucial that review websites check and present reviews in a way that ensures consumers can trust them. The CMA’s action is part of a wider package of work aimed at improving practices in the online reviews and endorsements sector” Arora says.
The new advice and information to review sites can be found here.