Online reviews to be investigated

Online reviews are to be investigated by the competition watchdog after it expressed concern that practices used on some sites may be “unlawful”.

The Competition and Markets Authority launched a public consultation on online reviews in February.

A subsequent report found that more than half of UK adults use online reviews, and although most consumers found the product or service they bought matched their expectations, there were instances of misleading information appearing on review sites.

These included fake reviews, negative reviews not being published, and businesses paying for endorsements without this being made clear.

The authority will now launch an investigation into several unnamed companies in the UK, and is also proposing a project on online reviews and endorsements through the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN). The Competition and Markets Authority will assume the presidency of ICPEN on July 1.

The organisation has also published an online guide for businesses at