On 31 July 2018, the Federal Court ordered that Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd (‘Meriton’) pay penalties due to a breach of the Australian Consumer Law by manipulating and interfering in the operations of review site TripAdvisor in the case of ACCC v Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd (No 2)  FCA 1125.
The Federal Court previously found that Meriton had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by implementing a practice that constituted the ‘masking’ of guest email addresses, particular the addresses of those guests that Meriton suspected may leave a bad review on TripAdvisor. The practice prevented these guests from receiving TripAdvisor’s ‘Review’ Express’ email, which prompts customers to provide a review of the service provided. The ‘Review Express’ service is a service where participating accommodation providers can pass on consenting customer email addresses to TripAdvisor, which then sends an email prompt to those customers. Meriton undertook the practice of inserting random letters into guests’ email addresses or not sending the email addresses to TripAdvisor, which constituted ‘masking’ the email addresses and precluding negative reviews from appearing on the site. For more information into the background of this case, please read TimeBase’s earlier article.
Justice Moshinsky, sitting alone, ordered that Meriton pay a pecuniary penalty of $3 million, as well as ordered that Meriton be restrained from filtering, selecting or limiting the customer email addresses it supplies to TripAdvisor for use in the Review Express service. In addition to this, Meriton was ordered to do the following:
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court highlighted the prevalent use of review sites such as TripAdvisor in a:
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
ACCC v Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd (No 2)  FCA 1125.
[media release] ACCC, ‘,’ 31 July 2018.
FREE legislation news, delivered weekly.
Sign up now.#WeLoveLegislation Tweets
NEW information resources - great for training.