Jo Geraghty


Reviewing ethical culture

Date added: 19th Jun 2015
Category: Culture of conduct/ethics

54% of us look at online reviews before we make purchases, but some companies aren't playing by the rules


It can take a lifetime to build and a second to destroy; particularly in this era of always-on social media sharing.  You’d think therefore that businesses would go out of their way to ensure that the way in which they advertise and publicise their services online would be open and transparent.  After all, according to a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) report 54% of us look at online reviews before we make purchases, meaning that millions of people are making decisions partly based on the user experiences of others.

Unfortunately the same CMA report revealed that it had uncovered instances of poor online practices including:

  • Fake reviews being posted on sites
  • Lack of clarity over paid for endorsements
  • Negative reviews being withheld
  • Consumers being offered discounts or payments in return for positive reviews

With the CMA estimating that some £23b a year of consumer spending is potentially being influenced by online reviews the incentive for gathering positive reviews is significant.  But at the end of the day, organisations which behave unethically in the way in which they promote reviews are not only laying themselves open to a consumer backlash as trust fails, they could also be breaking industry rules on advertising and consumer protection law.

As the CMA 60 second summary says; when it comes to online endorsements it’s all about being open and honest with your audience.

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