Together with national consumer protection authorities, the European Commission published the results of its EU-wide website screening (known as 'sweep') to identify potential violations of EU consumer law online reviews today.
The Commission coordinated the sweep, which was carried out simultaneously by 26 EU consumer protection authorities and found that at least 55 percent of the websites reviewed violated basic EU consumer protection laws such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. This directive stipulates, among others, that truthful information must be available so that consumers can make an informed purchasing decision.
These are further details:
- In almost two-thirds of the 233 analyzed online stores, marketplaces, booking websites, search engines and price comparison services, the reliability of customer ratings was questionable. It could not be confirmed whether retailers sufficiently guarantee the authenticity of their product reviews.
- 104 out of the 223 of the websites examined did not inform consumers how customer reviews are collected and processed – only 84 websites made such information accessible to consumers on the review page itself.
- 118 websites did not include information on how fake reviews are prevented. In these cases, customers have no way to verify that reviews are written by consumers who have actually used the product or service.
- 176 websites do not mention that incentives for reviews (e.g., financial) are prohibited due to internal regulations or how otherwise to ensure that reviews are appropriately labeled.
Didier Reynders, EU Justice Commissioner, said: "Consumers very often rely on online reviews when shopping or booking online. I don't want consumers to be tricked. I want them to be able to interact in a trustworthy environment. I insist on one specific point: online businesses must provide consumers with clear and visible information on the reliability of such reviews. Today's results are a clear call for action. We will ensure EU law is respected."