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ACM calls on firms and consumers to share their experiences with online reviews

Consumers increasingly include online reviews in their decision-making processes when making purchases. And sometimes they are also guided by recommendations made by bloggers and vloggers. It is therefore critical that online reviews and recommendations are reliable, so that consumers are able to make well-informed decisions, and that businesses are able to compete fairly. But are online reviews and recommendations truly reliable? And how do businesses deal with them? The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) wants to know more about this topic. That is why ACM calls on businesses and consumers to share their experiences. ACM will use this information to get a clear picture of the way online reviews and recommendations play a role in the decision-making process of online consumers in the Netherlands. ACM is looking forward to reading everyone’s experiences, both positive and negative ones.

ACM’s very first call for information

ACM has sent a questionnaire to advertisers, review websites, marketing agencies, trade organizations and consumer organizations. ACM has asked these businesses and organizations to share their experiences with writing and using online reviews and recommendation, as well as the reliability thereof. In addition, ACM also asks consumers several questions through its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, and various social media. This call for information is open from June 21 through July 8, 2016. It marks the first time that ACM has issued a call for information in order to find out whether there are any problems.

Taking stock of the situation in the Netherlands

Online consumers are one of the topics of the 2016-2017 ACM Agenda. Outside the Netherlands, studies into the use and reliability of online reviews and recommendations have already been conducted. These studies have revealed that online reviews are an important source of information in the purchasing process of consumers. In countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, it was found that businesses had fake online reviews posted on behalf of non-existent consumers. As a result, consumers may have been misled, and businesses may have been harmed. ACM wishes to find out what the situation is in the Netherlands. ACM would like to know whether there is an actual problem that is harmful to consumers and businesses in the Netherlands. ACM expects to publish the results of this survey early next year.