Property giant Meriton is facing legal action for allegedly preventing guests at its serviced apartments from posting negative reviews on TripAdvisor.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Meriton Serviced Apartments sought to prevent guests it suspected would be critical of their experience from receiving emails from TripAdvisor prompting them to post a review.
Many businesses provide the travel website with email addresses of customers that consent to passing on their details, but the ACCC alleges Meriton inserted extra letters in some email addresses or didn’t provide any address, in order to prevent Tripadvisor from contacting certain customers.
The alleged conduct occurred between November 2014 and October 2015, and on several occasions was an attempt to stop guests at one of its hotels from complaining about the infrastructure or failed services such as no hot water or a lift not working, according to the ACCC.
“We allege that Meriton’s conduct was a deliberate practice, undertaken at the direction of Meriton’s senior management, aimed at minimising the number of negative reviews,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“This practice was likely to create a more positive or favourable impression of the standard, quality or suitability of accommodation services provided by Meriton.”
Meriton faces a fine of up to $1.1 million per breach, subject to the judge’s ruling, according to an ACCC spokesman.
Meriton wasn’t immediately available to comment.