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TripAdvisor facing investigation

Other posts by  |  Steve Smith on Google+ |  September 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

TripAdvisor, the leading travel review website, will be investigated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) following complaints by more than 2,000 hotel and restaurant owners.

These businesses owners have contacted an online reputation management called KwikChex.com have asked that it act on their behalf. KwikChex.com has contacted the ASA claiming that some reviews on the TripAdvisor are either fake or defamatory.

TripAdvisor carries 50 million reviews all of which the site claims are written by travellers. The site is used by millions of consumers who are looking for informed opinions before they book a holiday.

KwikChex.com, a reputation management company, contacted the ASA and asked that it examine the businesses’ complaints.

An ASA spokesman has said that an investigation is underway. The investigation is likely to focus on two aspects of TripAdvisor’s strategy. The first is the placement of reviews in quote form on its website. Under the watchdog’s own code of practice companies are not allowed to use “unverifiable” testimonials on promotional material.

However, many hotels are encouraged by TripAdvisor to use positive quotes from its website on their promotional literature or on their own websites.

KwikChex.com believes that this could breach the ASA code. Making TripAdvisor verify and reveal the source of all positive comments came from would mean that the service would also have to verify negative reviews, says KwikChex.com.

The ASA is also looking into use of the word “trust” on TripAdvisor’s website. KwikChex.com is arguing that this could be a misleading statement. The ASA will request that TripAdvisor respond and provide evidence to support its own position.

Chris Emmins, the cofounder of KwikChex.com, said: “KwikChex.com believes that such an evaluation is vital because evidence of epidemic levels of abuse, flaws and distortion are being rebutted at present only with standard statements from TripAdvisor repeating clams of diligence and trustworthiness – and the public need to weigh the evidence properly.”

He added that TripAdvisor may be facing a number of actions. He is mounting a civil action in the US on behalf of hotel and restaurant owners. He has submitted a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, which is the equivalent of the ASA in America.

TripAdvisor has yet to comment.

 

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