Major hotel chain accused of TripAdvisor review rort

MERITON Serviced Apartments has allegedly been caught rorting the TripAdvisor review system. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced legal action against the chain, in the Federal Court, claiming guests it was suspected would give a negative review were prevented from doing so. 

When someone stays at a property they have rented through TripAdvisor they are sent an email inviting them to review it. 

The ACCC alleges staff at Meriton inserted additional letters into the email addresses of guests it was suspected had a bad stay so that they never got the message. 

"On several occasions Meriton engaged in this conduct in respect of the majority of guests that stayed at one of its hotels during periods where infrastructure or services failed, such as no hot water or a lift not working, in an attempt to ensure that guests would not receive TripAdvisor's 'Review Express' prompt email in case they left an unfavourable review," the ACCC claimed in a press release today. 

"We allege that Meriton's conduct was a deliberate practice, undertaken at the direction of Meriton's senior management, aimed at minimising the number of negative reviews. This practice was likely to create a more positive or favourable impression of the standard, quality or suitability of accommodation services provided by Meriton," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

"Consumers rely on independent review platforms like Trip Advisor when making purchasing decisions.  If reviews are manipulated to falsely create a more favourable impression about a provider, consumers may choose that provider on the basis of that falsehood over another accommodation provider who has not engaged in misleading conduct."

The Meriton chain operates apartments in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. 

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