The Advertising Standards Authority is to investigate claims that some reviews on travel site TripAdvisor are fake and defamatory.
The ASA has stepped in after receiving a formal complaint from a company called KwikChex.
KwikChex helps businesses manage their online reputations – something many restaurants and hotels struggle to keep on top of.
The company lodged a complaint based on TripAdvisor’s pledges which are dotted around the website:
“Reviews you can trust”
“Read reviews from real travellers”
“TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travellers”
“More than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travellers around the world”
KwikChex alleges that these claims are misleading because the company believes that TripAdvisor does not verify the reviews on its website and therefore cannot prove that the feedback – both negative and positive – is genuine.
In a statement, KwikChex said: “KwikChex 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.”
A spokesman for the advertising watchdog confirmed that a formal investigation has been launched and that it “…will publish findings in due course”.
TripAdvisor will be asked to respond and provide evidence to support their own position.
The reviews website said does not comment on current or potential regulatory investigations or litigation.