22 April 2013
Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today warned businesses to make sure they can prove glowing testimonials and endorsements on their websites are from genuine customers or risk thousands of dollars in fines.
Mr Roberts said claims of guaranteed 100 per cent success rates, miraculous clinical test results or rave reviews from customers have become a crucial sales tool for many businesses spruiking their wares and services on their websites, however, false or misleading testimonials are prohibited under the Australian Consumer Law.
“Businesses use testimonials from customers as an advertising method to draw in sales but they must be able to back it up with hard evidence,” Mr Roberts said.
NSW Fair Trading has asked 4 businesses to substantiate the testimonials on their websites within 21 days or face thousands of dollars in fines.
“The businesses alleged to have fabricated the testimonials on their websites are from the hair regrowth industry, a furniture removal business, a beauty parlour and a kitchen design and renovation company,” Mr Roberts said.
“They have 21 days to prove the testimonials are real or take them down.
“Failing to do so can result in a maximum fine of $16,500 for corporations or $3,500 for an individual.”
A Sydney plumbing business has already removed the following fake testimonial from its website:
“Congratulations to your company on providing an EXCEPTIONAL level of customer service. The professionalism, cleanliness and punctuality of your tradesman was [sic] faultless, and each [sic] delivered clear explanations and excellent work. Particular mention to [tradesman’s name] who is by far the best tradesman we have ever dealt with. Nothing was too much trouble. We will definitely be recommending (and using) your services again. Thank you.”
Mr Roberts said the crackdown on fake testimonials is about ensuring traders act with honesty and transparency to prevent consumers being misled.
“Businesses doing the right thing have nothing to worry about but any trader who thinks they can get away with misleading and deceptive conduct will soon have a visit from Fair Trading,” Mr Roberts said.
Consumers can assist Fair Trading’s crackdown on fake testimonials by reporting suspect cases via the Fair Trading website or by calling 13 32 20.
Back to Media releases