Meriton To Pay $3m Fine For Manipulating TripAdvisor Reviews
Meriton Serviced Apartments has been hit with a $3m fine after it was found manipulating TripAdvisor reviews breaching Australian Consumer Law.
Last November, the federal court found Meriton engaged in n misleading or deceptive conduct and conduct liable to mislead the public by implementing a practice of ‘masking’ email addresses.
Masking prevented guests Meriton suspected would give negative reviews from receiving TripAdvisor’s ‘Review Express’ prompt email.
Sarah Court, ACCC commissioner says, “Meriton’s management directed staff to engage in ‘masking’ to stop potentially negative reviews from appearing on TripAdvisor. This gave the impression Meriton accommodation was of a higher standard than otherwise may have been the case.
“People often make purchasing decisions for accommodation based on the rankings and reviews they read on third party sites like TripAdvisor. Manipulating these reviews is misleading to potential customers, who deserve the full picture when making a booking decision.”
“This case sends a strong message that businesses can expect ACCC enforcement action if they’re caught manipulating feedback on third party review websites.”