Consumers increasingly use online reviews to shape their decisions, and both government regulators and private companies are getting concerned about reviews that are, in one way or another, paid for.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission has concluded its case against AmeriFreight, a Georgia-based broker for shipping cars that offered its customers $50 off its services if they wrote an online review of the company. In the finalized settlement (PDF), the company and its owner, Marius Lehmann, agreed to stop advertising AmeriFreight services as being “top-ranked” or “highly rated” based on consumer reviews. Any future endorsers of AmeriFreight, including online reviewers, must disclose any “material connection” to the company. The settlement does not require AmeriFreight to pay any fine.
In a response to the FTC complaint posted on its website, AmeriFreight emphasized that its discount-for-reviews program, which it discontinued shortly after the FTC investigation began in 2014, wasn’t intended to produce false positives.
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