The Bundeskartellamt has initiated a sector inquiry into user ratings on the Internet. The aim is to find out how easy it is to falsify the evaluations that are so important for buyers.

User ratings are vital for online trading. After all, many customers make their purchases on the Internet dependent on these assessments. According to the global strategy and marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, 71 percent of consumers worldwide rate product reviews as important or even very important. In addition to product characteristics and price, ratings are already the third most important criterion for purchasing decisions and thus even more important than the brand. Recently, studies and media reports have accumulated, but many user ratings have been falsified. Among other things, it concerned Amazon. According to the British consumer organisation Which, 87 percent of the total of 12,000 reviews examined were untrustworthy. In order to uncover possible grievances, the Bundeskartellamt now wants to take a closer look at online evaluations.

Federal Cartel Office sees possible consumer right violations

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “Apart from price, user ratings are the most important decision criterion for consumers when buying online. When it comes to choosing a doctor, craftsman or restaurant, many consumers also rely on ratings from other users on the Internet. There are indications that user ratings are often falsified or manipulated. The primary objective of our sector inquiry is therefore to find out which rating systems are particularly susceptible to this and to what extent there may be consumer rights violations.” According to the Bundeskartellamt, there are many reasons why online evaluations are not authentic. For example, the assessments could have been generated by a computer. Or the person making the assessment may have received something in return without making this clear. According to the experts, if consumers are misled into making false business decisions due to non-authentic evaluations, this can constitute a violation of consumer rights.

After completion, there will be a public report

If necessary, the Bundeskartellamt can press ahead with investigations in the field of consumer protection. The aim is to identify possible infringements and possible deficiencies in the enforcement of the law. The experts have already carried out a sector inquiry into comparison portals and smart TVs. For the analysis of user ratings, the Bundeskartellamt will interview numerous operators of Internet portals who have user ratings in the coming months. There will also be a publicly available report on the study.



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Link: The Bundeskartellamt interviews website operators in order to find out about possible falsifications of user ratings.

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