ACCC: True Value Solar Ceases Incentives For Positive Reviews
Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), solar energy retailer True Value Solar has stopped offering incentives to its customers for publishing positive online reviews.
True Value Solar had implemented a program of offering its customers a free solar panel service valued at $199 for publishing a review on the online review platform www.productreview.com.au between February and September last year, the ACCC advised.
The ACCC stated that it had investigated the matter following a consumer raising concerns about a significant increase in the number of positive reviews on the platform.
“The free solar panel service was only offered to customers who indicated that they had a positive experience with True Value Solar, and were therefore likely to provide a positive review,” the ACCC stated. “The offer of the incentive was not disclosed in the review.”
ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper stated that businesses offering “incentives for unbalanced positive reviews risk misleading consumers and breaching the Australian Consumer Law”.
“Online reviews provide consumers with important information based on the experiences of others,” Schaper commented.
“Consumers rightfully expect reviews to be genuine and independent to help them make informed purchasing decisions.”
The incentives program was immediately discontinued by True Value Solar following contact by the ACCC, the ACCC advised, which also agreed that if it were to reintroduce a similar program in the future, incentives would be offered to all customers regardless of whether their review was positive or negative, with the offering of the incentive to be prominently disclosed to readers of the review.
ACCC guidance on online reviews can be found here.