It is no secret how valuable it is for a business to receive realistic, honest customer feedback via online reviews, whether positive or negative. In our line of work, third party online reviews also help to provide potential customers with a genuine assessment of the authenticity of a company and the quality of its products and services. In our experience, the reviews of customers and the responses provided by the company help new customers to trust that the business will deliver what they say they will. Ultimately, reviews massively influence whether purchasers decide to buy from you – or not!

With people buying online more than ever before, online reviews have become increasingly more important in our purchasing decisions. The one thorn in our side? Fake reviews. Whilst we believe the occasional negative review can actually benefit your business, fake reviews are a different kettle of fish. The good news is the government have recently announced that fake reviews will become illegal in a bid to protect people and businesses from their harmful consequences, and we cannot wait!

How can fake reviews can hurt a business?

It all comes down to losing trust in your brand. If shoppers suspect a product or service to have fake reviews, they are likely not to view the company as a trustworthy brand and therefore, decide not to buy. A company’s brand trust shapes the decisions made by consumers, if trust is lost then a company will have to work even harder to entice customers to purchase from them, normally in the shape of massive discounts on its products/services. Fake reviews can end up affecting your business’ bottom line, as well as its reputation.

Subscription traps are another annoying trick that can get consumers into bother. Have you ever signed up online or on the phone for a free or low-cost trial of products or services, only to find that you have been unknowingly locked into costly repeat repayments? Typically, the trap is that if you do not cancel the trial within a set amount of time, then you are automatically transferred into a subscription plan without even realising this was the case. The new measures proposed will help tackle these finance damaging traps too.

What are the new rules concerning fake reviews and subscriptions traps?

In a bid to shield the public from being swindled, the government are cracking down on fake reviews and dreaded subscription traps. Under the new measures, it will be illegal for businesses to pay someone to write or host fake reviews for a product or service, and sites hosting consumer verdicts will have to take reasonable steps to check they are genuine.

Offering or advertising to submit, commission or facilitate fake reviews will also see businesses pay a price. It is said that companies could be fined up to 10% of their global turnover, or up to £300,000 in the case of an individual for misleading consumers with fake reviews and bogus ratings.

We can also look forward to clearer rules for businesses to make it easier for customers to opt out of “subscription traps” where they are locked into paying for something they no longer want, or unaware that they signed up for it in the first place.

Companies will need to remind its customers before their free trial or offer comes to an end, as well as make it easier for people to get out of their contract.

At a time when the cost of living is soaring, and because we understand the value of genuine reviews, we are ecstatic that steps are finally being taken to improve consumer protection. The government has calculated that the average UK household spends about £900 each year after being influenced by online reviews, while a further £60 is spend on unwanted subscriptions. These changes will help safeguard the reputation of businesses, and consumers will have peace of mind that their hard-earned money is less likely to fall into the pockets of scammers.

If you are looking to build the reputation of you company online, our reputation management service could be for you, Give Lee a call for a non-pressurised chat. In the meantime, why not check out our client case studies to see how our reputation precedes us!