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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

CMA opens investigation into unnamed review websites

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.

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    at last !

  • Chris Arnold

    Agree.

  • Mal McCallion

    This is so important. Reviews sites can be the first place that your next clients are looking and, if they're in any way corrupt, the consumer could be fooled into thinking your rubbish competitor, with dozens of 5-star reviews faked from their desk - or from India or elsewhere - is better than you.

    Also, however honest you are in getting reviews for your agency, if you're using a site that doesn't check each one properly - or, worse, will remove genuine ones in order to force any business to pay to get them back, or accept payment for your competitors' 1-star reviews to be 'disappeared' - then your reviews are likely to be seen as fake in the eyes of your future clients too, by association. Whenever this is discovered - and, through this investigation, I hope that it will be - whatever history of reviews you may have built up on such a site could easily be wiped away.

    Forcing review sites to adhere to a code of conduct, to be open about their checking processes, rejection rate (1 in 6 submissions to raterAgent.co.uk, our review site, are not published as they are agents faking it) and fees is crucial for consumers and for the businesses that use them.

  • Rookie Landlord

    About time! A ridiculous situation that needs to be remedied. Unnamed review sites can cause huge reputational damage and need to be stamped out as soon as possible.

  • Ben  Marley

    It is about time direction and standards were introduced into the reviews market, too many businesses providing this service fall short of the mark. Is it any wonder there is little consumer trust when researching agents.

    Feefo, an award winning reviews solution, only invites genuine customers to leave their rating and review of a service experience from their agent. With real reviews comes real intelligence, the ability to know exactly what your customer thought good or bad affords you the ability to promote positive experiences and rectify negative ones.

    Check out my linkedIn profile I’m available to answer any questions and explain the benefits of Feefo.

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    The biggest provider of misleading reviews is Purple Bricks - you only have to read them for 2 minutes to realize they are a complete nonsense. I have been told by someone who knows their company well that these are written using a revolving IP address (software you can purchase online), which gets round Trust Pilots ‘real customer’ review process that tracks which IP address the review has been written from. They had to take down their Face book page and start again because their ‘real’ reviews from actual customer were diabolical.

    I have been wondering for a while now why the CMA, Trading Standards or Advertising Standards Authority isn't doing more to stop companies like this misleading customers when making a buying decision? Of course a homeowner is going feel more comfortable using a service like this if all the reviews say that the service is amazing and they will sell you house in 3 minutes for above the asking price!! It would very easy for the CMA to compare the Trust Pilot review email addresses against Purple Bricks actual customer base to see if they are actually real paying customers with real email addresses. The truth has to come out. When it does watch their share price.

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