Bachcare has been fined $117,000 for misleading consumers. The holiday rental management company was altering and withholding publication of online reviews posted by its users.
Between 1 June 2017 and 28 September 2018, Bachcare edited customer reviews, removing negative comments about the rental properties listed by the company and Bachcare’s maintenance and management of properties.
Following a Commerce Commission investigation Bachcare pleaded guilty to two charges under the Fair Trading Act 1986.
The Fair Trading Act protects consumers against being misled or treated unfairly by traders and retailers, prohibiting misleading and deceptive conduct, unsubstantiated claims, false representations and certain unfair practices. The Act applies to everyone in trade.
This is the first Fair Trading Act case in New Zealand for misleading conduct involving online comments and reviews. However, this will not be the last with Commerce Commission stating online retail continues to be a priority area for 2020.
Judge Singh in the Auckland District Court explained that Bachcare’s behaviour amounted to a clear infringement for the purposes of the Fair Trading Act, however the harm caused by this type of activity is hard to quantify. Judge Singh stated that the actions taken by Bachcare “compromised the interests of the consumers, fair competition and an environment in which consumers and businesses participate confidently.”
The maximum fine for this type of offence under the Fair Trading Act is $600,000. To make sure you comply with the law, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Todd & Walker Law corporate and commercial team members: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
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