The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against the company “A Whistle (1979) Pty Ltd”, a franchisor of the Electro-dry Carpet Cleaning business, alleging that it was involved in the posting of fake online testimonials.
Electro-dry is a franchised business that provides carpet, drapery, grout, upholstery and mattress cleaning services with over 100 franchises in Australia.
The ACCC alleges that Electro-dry:
- Made false or misleading representations by using a contractor to post fake testimonials relating to Electro-dry Carpet Cleaning on the Company’s website; and
- Induced or attempted to induce it’s franchisees to make false or misleading representations by posting fake testimonials on the Company website.
The ACCC alleges that Electro-dry’s conduct resulted in fake testimonials that appeared on a number of review sites, including Google and True Local. It alleged that the testimonials were written and posted by people associated with, or contracted to, Electro-dry, and not by it’s genuine clients as the testimonials implied.
ACCC Deputy Chair, Mr Michael Schaper has said that “Consumer issues in the online marketplace continue to be an ACCC priority…While online testimonials can be a useful and genuine marketing tool, it is important that online businesses understand that making or inducing false or misleading representations about testimonials breaches the Australian Consumer Law“.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, injunctions and corrective notices in the Federal Court. Continue to watch this space to learn the outcome of the Court proceedings.
In the meantime, if you have a question regarding what you consider to be a breach of your consumer rights, please telephone Brazel Moore Lawyers on 43247699 to speak to an experienced Solicitor today.