Gavel on desk
6 November 2017

Review site warned over ratings

Commerce Commission said site risked misleading users.

A review site claiming to offer unbiased ratings, but which excluded some companies, has got a warning from the Commerce Commission.

The commission recently published the warning letter it sent in July telling the company that its website risked misleading consumers and breaching the Fair Trading Act (FTA).

The travel review website publishes ratings of campervan companies based on customer reviews. Last year, it added a campervan booking service, charging companies a commission for each booking made through the site. But companies that didn’t agree to pay were removed from its ratings table.

The Rankers site represented its ratings as “independent” and “unbiased”. However, the commission found Rankers’ failure to clearly disclose the commercial relationship it had with campervan companies, and how it affected which firms featured on the site, was likely to have breached the FTA.

After becoming aware of the commission’s investigation, Rankers added a statement to its website saying its rating table didn’t include all campervan companies.

Get the full story

Review sites claiming to offer independent information are becoming a minefield for online shoppers. Signs you may not be getting the full picture include:

  • sites that don’t clearly state how their ratings work
  • reviews using formulaic and repeated language
  • a series of glowing reviews appearing at the same time.

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