Estate agencies who game their online reviews are under the spotlight after competition watchdog the CMA announced it is to investigate both Google and Amazon over fake online reviews.
Since May the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been looking at all the different platforms that enable consumers to review product and services.
But the watchdog is now targeting both online giants after it found that both sites are not doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious patterns of behaviour by reviewers.
In March this year Which? Flagged up how some reviewers were putting up high volumes of flattering reviews about companies that they were unlikely to have used.
Which? also said its investigations found that 50 businesses had three reviewers in common including several London estate agencies, suggesting strongly that these businesses were paying for fake online reviews on Google.
The CMA now says it is to look into whether Google and Amazon have been doing enough to prevent fake reviews or giving those breaking their existing rules harsh enough sanctions in order to put them off.
“It’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out,” says CMA chief Andrea Coscelli.
“We are investigating concerns that Amazon and Google have not been doing enough to prevent or remove fake reviews to protect customers and honest businesses.
“It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough.”