Car Dealers Fined $3.6 Million For Fake Reviews & Deceptive Practices
March 27, 2017
Cars play a huge role in the local economy and a large part of every family’s budget. Because of that and the sometime shady practices in the industry, the FTC has, over the past few years fined a number of car dealerships and groups for deceptive advertising or sales practices.
Fake Reviews Drawing More Attention & Bigger Fines
The FTC has looked at a few review related cases in the past. One included fake reviews in the iTunes by an agency on behalf of an app creator and another case where a transport company was requiring a review in order for customers to get a $50 cost savings on their order. In the former case the fine was $250,000 and in the later there was just a cease and desist order.
This case however is the first time that the FTC has specifically laid out fake local reviews as a basis for their actions. The size of the fine is a bit of an eye popper as well.
According to MediaPost the “complaint also included allegations that the businesses posted fake reviews on sites including Facebook, Google and Yelp. ‘Defendants have received numerous negative reviews on online websites complaining about defendants’ deceptive and unfair practices.
In numerous instances, defendants and defendants’ employees have posted positive, five-star reviews of the dealerships on these websites that deceptively purport to be objective or independent.’ The FTC alleged that at least 13 five-star Facebook reviews for one of the dealerships were posted by the company or its agents and they also allegedly populated its own site with reviews that weren’t genuine.”
Another of the dealerships in the group got bad reviews on Yelp and the dealership’s Internet manager, his wife and another manager allegedly posted five-star reviews to the site.
Reviews Have Rules, Don’t Chance It
Reviews are important. No question about it. And they have become evermore important with Google’s highlighting of Review from the web and their encouragement of the use of Rich Snippet review formatting.
With this increased visibility it is more important than ever that your business plays by the rules.