Ever wonder if the reviews you’re reading on review sites like TripAdvisor are accurate? You’re not the only one. TripAdvisor was fined $610,000 by the Italian government for fake and misleading reviews:
The regulator, the Italian Competition Authority, called on TripAdvisor to stop “publishing misleading information about the sources of its reviews,” and gave the company 90 days to comply with the ruling.
I don’t generally use TripAdvisor or other such review sites. If I don’t know someone who’s personally stayed at a property, I’ll generally research it on Milepoint or Flyertalk. And, even some of those reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt, though there’s usually more technical details that I can draw my own evaluations from.
I have no idea if this fine will ultimately be appealed. I understand the government’s desire to protect consumers, but I think at some level this is too much regulation. There are plenty of scenarios where a hotel guest and a hotelier can have two different opinions about the outcome of a stay. Compelling a for-profit company to review and censor all of the reviews they collect could lead to dramatic shifts in their business model, potentially preventing them from providing such resources for free to consumers. From my perspective, I generally think the free market takes care of things like this. If a site posts too many inaccurate reviews the public usually sniffs those sorts of things out.
I’ll be interested to see the outcome here, but it does leave us with a question.
Do you use review sites like this? How much do you trust the content?