Testimonials: Know the new laws or pay

- February 19, 2014 2 MIN READ

It’s nice to be loved by your customers, but be sure that your testimonials comply with new ACCC guidelines, or you could pay an enormous fine.

It’s always great when happy customers write a glowing testimonial for your business, and it’s even better when they post that testimonial on social media or review sites. The benefits include: generating a positive view of your brand in order to boost sales, providing helpful information for future customers, and boosting your website’s SEO.

But sadly, the popularity of review sites has also seen a rise in fake customer testimonials, i.e. false positive reviews written by the business owner (or people associated with the business owner), or false negative reviews written by rivals.

Thankfully, the Australian consumer watchdog, the ACCC, is targeting customer testimonials and has introduced new guidelines to combat this shonky practice. The new laws mean there is much to lose by artificially improving your ratings.

Fake testimonials: An Australian business was fined $145,000

If you think it’s harmless to post a rosy review of your business or perhaps pretend to be a disgruntled customer on a competitor’s social media page or on third party review sites, think again; it can now result in legal action and heavy fines. Just recently an Australian solar business was fined $145,000 for promoting fake customer testimonials on YouTube and presenting misleading information about their products.

If you offer your customers incentives for testimonials, be careful.

The ACCC’s guidelines are not just intended to stamp out the black-and-white cases of dishonest and malicious behaviour. To ensure consumers are not misled in any way, the guidelines also extend to how you reward your customers for writing positive testimonials on review sites or social media.

Don’t delete negative reviews

Attempting to suppress negative reviews is also against the new laws. The ACCC regards removing negative reviews as dishonest as posting fake positive ones.

Where to find the new ACCC guidelines

This article has only provided a short summary of the ACCC’s guidelines and is in no way intended to represent the full raft of guidelines. I recommend that you download the guidelines in order to have a full understanding of them, and how they affect the way you do business.

Stay posted, next month I’ll show you how to benefit from reviews while staying above board in the eyes of the law and your customers.

What do you think of the new guidelines? Have you ever read customer testimonials that you suspected were fake?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"