'Phrases such as "reviews you can trust" and "reviews from real travelers" have misled TripAdvisor users in the United Kingdom, according to a judgment issued Wednesday by the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain.
The decision comes in response to a complaint filed by a reputation management firm and two hotels, claiming that some of the claims of trustworthiness and authenticity on the very popular user-generated review site are misleading and can't be substantiated, since the site doesn't verify reviews.
Chris Emmins, co-founder of KwikChex, the reputation management company that filed the complaint, said it receives regular inquiries and complaints from hoteliers who say that false TripAdvisor reviews are hurting their business.
Unsubstantiated claims of bed bugs or food poisoning follow properties in online search results, and negative reviews are particularly damaging to small businesses since they don't receive a high volume of reviews and negative accounts tend to linger longer near the top of a company's listing, Emmins said.
TripAdvisor's claims of trustworthiness are misleading, he said.
"Patently, that just can't be true when you don't verify the fact that it's even a customer making the comments," he said.'
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