New data has revealed that British consumers want greater protection against fake reviews as the government gears up for the Consumer Protection Bill this week.
According to research from reviews provider Feefo, over three quarters of consumers and 81 per cent of businesses are calling for bolder action to be taken, urging ministers to bring in the same laws being introduced in the EU later this month.
The EU directive, dubbed the “New Era for Consumer Rights”, will make it illegal for a firm to host a fake review on their website, going one step further than the UK’s proposals that plan to grant the competition watchdog with enhanced powers to punish. European law will require firms to prove that online reviews are verified.
As it stands, fake online reviews cost the UK an estimated $2.3bn and the global economy $152bn.
Feefo’s data demonstrates the current standard of online reviews isn’t working. Over a third of UK consumers don’t trust reviews on open platforms – where anyone can leave a review, with no human checks in place to ensure the reviewer has purchased a product or service.
In contrast, people will trust a review if it’s been verified through robust procedures such as only inviting customers who have paid for the product or service, rather than verified email addresses, to leave reviews and labelling them clearly so consumers can quickly identify reviews from real buyers.
In fact, two thirds say their purchasing decisions would be influenced by reading a review if they knew a reviews platform had properly vetted its origin.
Commenting on the research and upcoming government action, Feefo’s CEO Tony Wheble, said: “Whilst it’s good the Government has started to put the wheels in motion, we need to protect people now.
“The current proposal granting powers to the CMA to fine 10% of global turnover for those that fall foul of the rules is a big deal. Yet, this suggests the sole responsibility falls on the business themselves when there is no excuse for reviews platforms not to have strict verification processes in place.”
He called on the ministers not to be “complacent” about implementing immediate change in the industry.