Online product reviews are becoming more and more influential to consumers looking to invest in new appliances, as a result, the ACCC is closely monitoring the source of these testimonials to ensure they are written by independent consumers.

The consumer watchdog has drawn attention to this issue by undertaking proceedings in the Federal Court against the franchisor of Electrodry Carpet Cleaning, alleging it mislead consumers by posting fake online testimonials.

Electrodry is a franchised business that provides carpet, drapery, grout, upholstery and mattress cleaning services with over 100 franchises in Australia.

It is alleged that "the testimonials were written and posted by people associated with, or contracted to, Electrodry, and not by its genuine clients as the testimonials implied". The testimonials appeared on a number of sites, including  Google, True Local and Word of Mouth.

The ACCC also alleges the Electrodry "induced or attempted to induce its franchisees to make false or misleading representations by posting fake testimonials on the internet."

“Consumer issues in the online marketplace continue to be an ACCC priority,” ACCC Deputy Chair Michael Schaper said.

“While online testimonials can be a useful and genuine marketing tool, it is important that online businesses understand that making or inducing false or misleading representations about testimonials breaches the Australian Consumer Law.”

The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, injunctions and corrective notices.