Many consumers rely on when shopping on the Internet, in the selection of a restaurant or even in the choice of the doctor on the Online reviews of other users. However, this is not without risk.
“There is evidence that user reviews are not fake rarely, or manipulated,” said cartel office President Andreas Mundt in Bonn. The Supervisory authority has, therefore, initiated a sector investigation and want to interview numerous operators of Internet portals.
“have user reviews besides the price, the main decision-making criterion for consumers when buying Online. Also in the choice of a physician, craftsman or Restaurants, a lot of consumers trust the reviews of other users on the Internet,” said Mundt. However, there is evidence that the reviews were not, in many cases, to be authentic, because they were generated by a Computer or because of the evaluation received at the end of his words of praise in return, without disclosing this.
“If consumers are misled because of non-authentic reviews to wrong business decisions, this can be a consumer rights violation”, – said the Agency.
The German consumer centres found in a study a year ago are already significant differences in the quality of the evaluation portals. “The intensity of the examination of reviews varies between the portals strong,” stressed the market guardian at the time. Not all the portals laid the necessary zeal in the fight against the manipulation of the day. It is for the consumer not to see how conscientiously the portals work.
“customers need to be aware that there is no full protection against manipulation of the reviews, and always critically look at it,” he advised at that time, the consumer activist Susanne Baumer. Specifically, the market demanded a security guard that sponsored reviews, which were rewarded with payments of money, gifts for the purposes of testing or vouchers, must be clearly marked and no impact on the overall evaluation of the product should have.
the Primary objective of the Federal cartel office in the case of the sector inquiry is to determine what evaluation systems are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting and tampering. After the completion of the investigation, the results will be presented in a report to the Public.
The Federal cartel office may carry out in the area of consumer protection investigations and any violations, as well as possible shortcomings in the law enforcement identify. The authority revealed infringements of the law by an official order to turn off, is not connected to yet, however.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Minister for consumer protection, Ursula Heinen-Esser welcomed the move by the Federal cartel office. The CDU politician emphasized that the manipulations in the portals would have to be prevented. Because user reviews offer consumers an orientation for their decisions in the consumer everyday life.