Trust in review websites is being undermined by firms using dubious tactics to boost their scores, an investigation has found.
Consumer champion Which? discovered that Sykes Holiday Cottages, one of Britain’s biggest holiday rental companies, clocked up thousands of five-star ratings on the popular Trustpilot review site at a time when holidays were mothballed due to the lockdown and the firm was being criticised by its customers for delaying refunds after bookings were cancelled.
Meanwhile, some companies also seem to be manipulating a system which allows them to challenge negative reviews, Which? said.
Travel booking firm Kiwi.com has managed to get 80% of the negative reviews it has flagged over the last year removed from the site.
Which? also found evidence of travel firms aggressively challenging one-star reviews in an apparent effort to have them taken down permanently.
Last month, Trustpilot announced a number of positive changes aimed at boosting the credibility of reviews on its website.
Questions about the integrity of some comments on Trustpilot come as the UK’s regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating several major websites that feature online reviews.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “It’s right the CMA is now looking at major websites that display reviews, and it must take the strongest possible action against sites that are failing to protect users on their platforms.”
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