After engaging constructively with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Checkatrade and Trustatrader have agreed to improve their practices. These improvements address concerns that were raised following a call for information by the CMA on online reviews and endorsements.
The CMA’s call for information highlighted a number of general concerns about the review sector, including the potential for some review websites’ practices to prevent some genuine negative reviews from being published, some review websites not checking reviews sufficiently rigorously, and important information not being brought to the attention of the users of some websites.
The operators of both sites have worked with the CMA in relation to their practices and have committed to making bespoke improvements in response to the specific concerns that were relevant to them in one or more of the following areas:
- Ensuring that all genuine, relevant and lawful reviews are published. Checkatrade will make it clearer that, in line with its existing policy, if people would like their negative review to be published they can do so whether or not they would like further contact with the trader.
- Ensuring that reviews received are checked properly as to whether they are genuine. Checkatrade and Trustatrader will build on their existing verification processes to strengthen their checks.
- Ensuring that important information is brought to the attention of users. Checkatrade and Trustatrader will improve the information that is given to users about how reviews are collected, checked and published, building on their existing practices.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said: “Millions of people look at online reviews and endorsements before making buying decisions, and so it is crucial that review websites check and present reviews in a way that ensures consumers can trust them.
“Review sites play a critical role in giving consumers this valuable information and ensuring that consumers can trust the reviews they see. We welcome the constructive engagement we have had with the 5 review sites which will mean that people using them will have a more complete picture when reading reviews.
“The CMA’s action is part of a wider package of work aimed at improving practices in the online reviews and endorsements sector. As well as writing to the operators of other review websites for tradespeople and care home sites, we are issuing further advice and information to review sites across all sectors to remind them about their legal obligations. In addition, we have opened investigations into a number of companies involved in reviews and endorsements, and expect to make further announcements about these in the coming weeks.”