Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

2 Nov 2010

Fake reviews on TripAdviser now punishable

Fake reviews on TripAdviser now punishable

"Fraudulent reviewers beware. Hundreds of hotels and restaurants are planning to reveal the identities of bogus reviewers on travel websites, such as TripAdvisor.

news.com.au reported that UK-based online reputation management company, Kwikchex, is preparing to publish a list containing thousands of suspected false and defamatory reviewers.

Once released, the accused will be afforded two weeks to provide evidence of their stay or facts to support their outlandish comments. If they are unable to oblige, legal consequences may follow.

Australians are not exempt and could potentially be sued for posting false or exaggerated reviews, with legal repercussions ranging into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The UK’s Mail Online reported that Kwikchex plan to apply for a court order that would force TripAdvisor to disclose any information they retain in regards to the identity of reviewers in order to repair the integrity and reputation of shamed businesses.

“It (TripAdvisor) is highly influential in terms of buying decisions by consumers and whilst many of the reviews on their site provide a good guide, there are several elements within the TripAdvisor operating procedures that are questionable,” according to Kwikchex’s website.

“If you put up a false review – one that’s not based on your stay at the hotel and reporting what factually happened to you – there is the potential to be sued” says Robert Todd, lawyer for Australian law firm Blake Dawson.

According to Kwikchex, those people who can prove they have contacted TripAdvisor and have attempted to have their comments removed, without success, will be exempt from prosecution.

Kwikchex claims there are “over 1100 results on TripAdvisor, many alleging physical and sexual abuse against managers and owners that wish to clear their names in a court of law, but who have up until now, been prevented from doing so.”

“I would suggest that a person sets out all the facts and then says (something like) ‘I think this is not the best value’,” Robert recommends.

The authenticity of these often malicious and brazen reviews is going unchecked according to Good Hotel Guide editor, Adam Raphael.

He claimed his publication had been overrun by hoteliers complaining about “fraudulent reviews” and “bogus reviewers” on TripAdvisor.

“Millions of consumers are beginning to realise that they have been gulled by bogus reviewers” said Mr Raphael.
A spokesperson for TripAdvisor told Mail Online that their website would only reveal reviewer information if forced to do so via a court order."