ACCC charges firm for posting fake reviews online

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IN PHOTO: Customers in a central Melbourne music store look through compact discs September 3. Australia's competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was taking Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music to court, alleging they tried to block competition by discouraging compact disc imports. The commission alleged the Sony, Warner and PolyGram, which like Universal Music is a division of Seagram Company, had colluded with Asian record companies to try to prevent Asian wholesalers from supplying compact discs to Australian businessess. WB/TAN

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has slammed a removalist firm with charges of generating fake online reviews for deceiving customers into using their services. ACCC had issued three infringement notices against Citymove, forcing it to pay a penalty of $30,600.

The ACCC has alleged that the Citymove has posted two fake testimonials on Google+ and one on Youtube. All three testimonials have been fabricated and given by fake consumers. ACCC realised the testimonials on Citymove were false and misleading when they found the same reviews on other review websites under the name of different customers.

Payment of a penalty that has been specified in an infringement notice does not denote admitting to a breach of the Australian Consumer Law. If the ACCC has a logical justification behind believing that a person has breached the consumer protection laws, it can send an infringement notice to the person based on those grounds.

James Russell, the Citymove director, told news.com.au that the testimonials had been written by real persons, but due to the mistake of their digital marketing company, they were posted under the wrong names erroneously. He even said that Citymove has thousands of reviews to its credit but ACCC has only picked three and termed the action “witch hunt.”

“The real story here is they’re going after a small business that can’t legally stand up on our own. No one was hurt, no one lost any money, but they chase us and let Woolworths run rampant,” said Russell “It seems unfair.”

Dr. Michael Schaper, the ACCC deputy chair, said that every year, the ACCC receives more than 10,000 complaints about misleading and fake activities. He said that the move against the Citymove has been taken after another removalist firm complained about it. “The single biggest thing that small businesses contact us about is this issue of misleading conduct and false claims,” he said.

According Sydney Morning Herald, in July 2014, the ACCC had taken legal action against A Whistle and Co., which took the name of Electrodry Carpet Cleaning for inducing its franchisees to post false testimonials or reviews online.

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