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Munich Regional Court: Fake ratings for hotels are illegal


Companies like Fivestar from Belize deliver fake online reviews for hotels that want to improve their reputation. By contrast, the holiday portal Holidaycheck had sued - with success.

Purchased fake reviews on the Internet are unlawful, which has decided the Munich district court. There was a lawsuit by Holidaycheck holiday portal against invented valuations, which was based in the South American micro-state Belize resident company Fivestar marketing and then sold to several hoteliers.

In the future, Fivestar will no longer be able to sell any ratings from people who have not actually stayed in the respective establishment. The company must also ensure that the corresponding fake ratings are deleted, and provide information on the holiday portal belonging to the media group Burda, from whom the invented valuations originated. The decision was made in the form of a so-called default judgment. Despite the charge, no representative of Fivestar had appeared for trial.

The target group of Fivestar are companies that want to improve their sales through positive reviews. "Through Fivestar you get quality reviews of your products, your services or your shop," advertises the company on its own website.

Reviews for Amazon cost 19.40 euros

Purchased Amazon reviews, for example, with a price from 19.40 euros are the most expensive. Customers can also buy reviews for Google, Facebook or employer review portals - cheaper in the package. Fivestar has in the past advertised that top scores are sold, but has now removed this clue.

The activities of Fivestar have also caught the attention of other corporations. Amazon is also keen to put a stop to fake reviews. In Germany Amazon obtained a dozen court decisions against companies selling valuations, a spokesman for the news agency dpa said. "Among other things, we have obtained two injunctions against Fivestar Marketing, one of which has already been confirmed by a final judgment."

Some companies write reviews of software

Fivestar's business practice differs from other valuation firms that rely on automated procedures for fake internet reviews. "According to our estimates, more than 90 percent of non-authentic reviews are computer-generated," said the Amazon spokesman. "We work with review teams and automated systems to prevent spurious reviews, detect them, and take action against the operators of this abuse."

In contrast, Fivestar does not use computer computers, but hires freelancers. In the specific Munich case, the judgment of the Fivestar County Court does not generally prohibit reviews on holidaycheck for sale - but are banned reviews by Fivestar reviewers, "who have never seen the hotel from the outside, let alone from inside," as the chairman Judge Gawinski formulated ,

The defendant company has recently renamed itself and changed the legal form from Fivestar Marketing UG to Fivestar AG bR, as the judge recounted. The former managing director is now no longer managing director, a successor is not registered in the commercial register. But that will not help the company to escape the claims of the victorious Holidaycheck. "It's like a sex change," said Judge Gawinski, changing the legal form. "That does not mean it will not hit the company anymore."

Source: spiegel

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