Following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Federal Court has declared, by consent, that Service Seeking Pty Ltd (Service Seeking) contravened the Australian Consumer Law by making false and misleading representations on its website (Website) and its related application (App) in relation to consumer reviews.

From 12 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. The proposed review was then emailed to the customer. If the customer did not receive or open the email or did not respond within 3 days, the review was automatically published under the business' profile on the Website and the App.

More than 80% of the reviews and star ratings obtained through Fast Feedback were automatically published by Service Seeking on the profile of businesses on the Website and App.

The Court found that:

  • by publishing reviews and star ratings which were generated by businesses through Fast Feedback and automatically published to businesses' profiles, Service Seeking made false and misleading representations that purported to be testimonials by customers of the businesses; and
  • Service Seeking engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive; and
  • Service Seeking engaged in conduct which was liable to mislead consumers as to the nature, the characteristics and the suitability for their purpose of services of businesses on the Website and the App.

As part of its orders, the Court:

  • required Service Seeking to pay penalties totalling $600,000, together with the ACCC's costs of the proceeding;
  • restrained Service Seeking from engaging in similar conduct;
  • required Service Seeking to publish this corrective notice on the Website and the App; and
  • ordered Service Seeking to implement an Australian Consumer Law compliance program.