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Trade in reviews on the Internet – UOKiK fine for a company from Poznań

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The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) imposed a fine of PLN 40,000 on a company from Poznań for selling false reviews online that misled consumers.

The Office noted that according to the research carried out on its behalf, 93% of of online buyers are guided by reviews posted about a given product when making their choices. “The impact of the assessment of other customers is important in making the final purchasing decision. That is why dishonest entrepreneurs are ready to pay for positive, albeit untrue, reviews” – emphasized in the press release.

Trade in reviews on the Internet – UOKiK fine

As reported, as a result of the proceedings from August 2022, the president UOKiK recognized the practices used by the City Agency Damian Trzciński from Poznań as unfair and imposed a fine of PLN 40,000 on the company. zloty. In addition, the owner of the enterprise must inform about the issued decision on the websites he uses. According to UOKiK, the company dealing with broadly understood internet marketing services, including obtaining opinions for Google business cards, offered i.a. obtaining positive opinions in the search engine or “improving” negative ratings in Google Maps.

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“The President of UOKiK established that the entrepreneur deliberately misled consumers as to the reviewed companies, including their reputation, quality of services or products offered. Anyone could use the offer of the City Agency and order a certain number of positive reviews. The price list included 6 packages from small in the latter, you could buy 100 reviews for PLN 1,200. As part of its activities, the agency created and posted fictitious comments on Google Maps business cards. Reviews were formulated without first testing the products or checking the reliability of the clients. Moreover, the clients often influenced the wording published opinions, and even created them themselves, while the very content of the reviews suggested quite the opposite: credibility and independence.

The press release reminded that in November 2022, for offering and selling unreliable opinions on the Internet, the President of UOKiK fined Opinions.pro from Lubartów and SN Marketing from Kraków with fines totaling over PLN 70,000. zloty.

As added, the President of UOKiK also presented allegations to J+J Jakub Brożyna. “The entrepreneur, via the Seosklep24.pl website, offered the ‘Opinions in Google Maps’ service, which included the publication of positive or neutral opinions and ratings as part of Google Maps business cards. The content of the opinions was generated automatically, created on request or provided by the ordering companies. From our findings It appears that these activities were primarily aimed at better positioning of these companies on the Internet. Information about them could appear higher in the Google search results and thus reach a wider audience, UOKiK informed.

The President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny, pointed out that the reputation of entrepreneurs should result from reliable information and real consumer experiences. – Fake reviews mislead consumers – especially those that give the impression of being genuine and drawn up by customers who have actually used the services of a given entrepreneur. Such manipulative actions artificially inflate the assessment of a given company and distort the fairness of the market game. This is bad for both consumers and healthy competition, he stressed.

Omnibus is to counteract false reviews

UOKiK reminded that from the beginning of 2023 the provisions of the EU Omnibus Directive, which assumes greater transparency of online shopping, have been in force. According to it, every entrepreneur who provides access to reviews of products and services must state whether he verifies them, and if so, he should inform how he checks their authenticity, and whether he publishes all of them. The communiqué of the office emphasized that the entrepreneur cannot claim that the opinions were posted by consumers who used the product or bought it, if he did not take action to verify it. For unlawful practices penalty of up to 10%. turnover.

The Office emphasized that the legal changes make it possible to hold accountable not only companies offering unreliable opinions, but also large e-commerce entrepreneurs who do not sufficiently protect consumers against false opinions on their portals. It was added that the President of UOKiK planned extensive activities in this regard for the second quarter of 2023.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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