The UK Government has today announced new rules “to protect consumers’ hard-earned cash” and the hospitality sector by releasing plans to make illegal hosting a fake review and paying someone to write a fake review.

The plans, overseen by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, seek to protect consumers and businesses by ensuring they are not cheated by bogus ratings.

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As part of enforcing these rules, fake reviews will be tackled via a new law against commissioning someone to write a fake review, hosting consumer reviews without taking reasonable steps to ensure they are genuine, and offering to submit or facilitate fake reviews.

The government are seeking to highlight their commitment to adapting to the lessons of the pandemic, which has “cast a spotlight on bad business practices” such as fake reviews.

New measures requiring legal changes, such as tackling fake reviews, will come into effect following parliamentary approval.

Dan Hawkie, MD of customer experience platform Feed It Back, commented:

“Consumers are the backbone of key industries such as the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors, and with review channels being so important for a customer’s decision on where to eat or drink out, go on holiday, or buy goods, the integrity of these reviews is of the utmost importance.

“Taking these measures against fake reviews is a great equaliser for businesses that operate the right way, rewarding both the business and the consumer. It also places an emphasis on the delivery of brilliant customer service moving forward, ensuring the best operators are commended, whereas those that struggle to deliver excellence will suffer.”

Paul Scully, Small Business Minister, said:

“We’re making sure consumer protections keep pace with a modern, digitised economy. No longer will you visit a 5 star-reviewed restaurant only to find a burnt lasagne or get caught in a subscription in which there’s no end in sight. Consumers deserve better and the majority of businesses out there doing the right thing deserve protection from rogue traders undermining them.”