Home Technology Regulation Service Seeking taken to task by ACCC
Service Seeking taken to task by ACCC Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Online tasking platform Service Seeking has been taken to court by the competition watchdog, the ACCC, for allegedly engaging in misleading conduct relating to customer reviews.

Service Seeking operates an online tasking platform where tradespeople can quote and book jobs requested by consumers, such as gardening and cleaning services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that from July 2016, Service Seeking’s "Fast Feedback" feature allowed businesses to use a template form to write their own reviews and choose a star rating after completing a job, with the proposed review then emailed to the customer.

The ACCC says that if the customer did not respond to a business’ self-written review within three days, the review was automatically published under the business’s profile on ServiceSeeking.com.au.

“We allege that Service Seeking’s conduct gave businesses a chance to effectively rate and review themselves without any input from the customer,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

The ACCC alleges Service Seeking’s ‘Fast Feedback’ feature breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by misleading consumers, as at least 80% of "Fast Feedback" reviews were not written or approved  by customers.

“We know that online reviews and testimonials are important for consumers when they choose which business to buy goods or services from” Rickard said.

“Businesses are warned that online reviews need to accurately reflect the independent views and feedback of genuine customers or the business risks breaching the Australian Consumer Law.”

The ACCC says that since July 2016, when businesses were first able to use the Service Seeking "Fast Feedback" review feature via the website, over 18,000 jobs had been completed and feedback provided under the business profiles of service providers by way of ‘Fast Feedback’ reviews.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

 

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