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Italy Slams TripAdvisor with $600K Fine Over Business Practices & Fake Reviews

Italy Slams TripAdvisor with $600K Fine Over Business Practices & Fake Reviews
Jennifer Billock

23trip

An Italian regulator has fined TripAdvisor $600,000 for improper business practices and allowing false property reviews on the website.

On Monday, the antitrust authority in Italy slammed TripAdvisor with a $600,000 fine for poor business practices. The fine was the result of a consumer protection agency and national hoteliers group complaint. The Federalberghi Federation of Hoteliers claimed that TripAdvisor does not have adequate controls in place to stop false reviews, which makes the site’s promotions as authentic and genuine content unethical.

TripAdvisor has been given 90 days to rectify the situation, although the company plans to appeal the antitrust authority’s findings. According to TripAdvisor, the company currently has a team in place to detect fraudulent reviewers, as well as automated tools that seek to prevent false reviews. TripAdvisor believes this current system is extremely effective and catches what it considers to be the “small minority of people” trying to cheat the system.

The Federalberghi Federation is pleased with the outcome of the complaint, and backed up their concerns by providing multiple defamatory reviews currently on the website as evidence. The group has represented hoteliers in Italy for than 100 years and takes a vested interest in the economic and social issues tourism entrepreneurs run into on a daily basis.

This is not the first time TripAdvisor has come under fire for this same issue. One U.K. regulator previously tackled the British version of the site, stating that the company should stop promoting all the British reviews as written by reliable independent travelers.

View Comments (9)

9 Comments

  1. USHPNWDLUA

    December 26, 2014 at 12:59 am

    I reviewed the Crowne Plaza Qingdao once. I had stayed there many, many times. My review was favorable, as this is one of the finest hotel in northern China. 6 months later, I received an email from Trip Advisor informing me that my review could not be published as it was deemed “fraudulent”.

    I have no doubt that its internal controls are a mess. I’ve never reviewed again on Trip Advidor, and I never visit the site for any reviews or other information.

  2. Dubai Stu

    December 26, 2014 at 6:42 am

    When the internet first came out, I was hoping the nations of the world would agree to let the UN create a a body with global standards to regulate the world. I knew it would be tough and that the right wingers from my country (the US) would be screaming “new world order” in a derogatory way, but it seemed pretty self-evident that no entity could possibly please all the nations all the time and that the least common denominator approach would a road to self-destruction.

    British libel law makes people libel no matter how much diligence is done, Italy is reknown for the equivalent of SLAPP suits. I’m sure some Middle Eastern nations could make a claim that some reviews insults Islam, etc.

    The sites provide valuable information and allow every sovereign to exercise jurisdiction is a horrid idea. I hope that Trip Advisor takes the case to the European Court of Justice. For an interesting take on the entire issue of global libel tourism, take a look at:

    http://www.quinnipiac.edu/prebuilt/pdf/SchoolLaw/LawReviewLibrary/14_28QLR431(2009-2010).pdf

  3. bkkth

    December 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Stayed at a B&B in Rome recently. The place was first rate. However, a fellow guest told me one reason the place was highly rated was that he had written very favorable reviews of the establishment. Very, super glowing reviews in order to help the owner.

  4. straniero

    December 27, 2014 at 9:41 am

    well, I have lost count of all the times I saw restaurants with:
    10% bad feedback – from users with lots of posts
    90% great feedback – from users with just one post

    can I go on and speculate there is just a SLIGHT chance that the system is biased?

  5. VidaNaPraia

    December 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

    On the TA forum I am most familiar with, you can apparently ask your friends to conveniently sign up and immediately post a positive review after any negative review of your service/property, but if someone points out that is just a bit “fishy”, the post is quickly
    removed and the poster banned. Also on that forum, designated Destination “Experts” have a few days’ experience in their destination and/or get their information from the internet, not personal experience, but comments are not phrased to reflect that. The whole thing is a sham, IMHO.

  6. CaptHolic

    December 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Come on! Lets start suing Wiki for false content!
    Tripadvisor needs to be taken with a grain of salt. How is Tripadvisor seriously expected to know if a person has actually been to a given hotel?
    If you don’t know to ignore the hateful things written on the internet well you may deserve to miss out on a wonderful hotel experience. If ALL the reviews are negative then just maybe, it might be slightly true.

  7. relangford

    December 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I generally go to TripAvisor and look at the positives and negatives, and weigh the relative numbers and how they are written. MANY years ago, I had a very minor role in the DARPAnet; almost no one in the organization thought it would ever be bigger than a disseminated command and control network – were we wrong! Perhaps the Italian hoteliers have had a nerve struck? If management, services, and facilities were good, there would be very few negative comments. Most people do not post “fraudulent” reviews, rather some people do post hyperbolic reviews when a hotel missed the mark badly.

  8. MD/DC Flyer

    December 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Another review site I write to regularly (because each review gets 100 miles mostly) do have an effective internal control systems. Positives reviews get posted rather quickly (although on occasion they do ask for verification of stays – like invoices or confirmed reservations). Negative reviews takes longer to post but they do in the end.

  9. Angie500

    December 31, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Which site is that? Please share always happy to get miles. Also find I really have to take trip advisor as a 50/50 thing. Do the positives outweigh the negatives and if eveyone else had a clean room why did a few find the place so dirty? Like – that you can see your friends reviews. Was once horrified to find family members had swamped Amazon with amazing reviews of a relatives horrible book. Nothing surprises me now..

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