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Friday, April 24, 2015

FTC BARS AUTO SHIPMENT BROKER FROM TOUTING REVIEWS IT PAID CONSUMERS TO WRITE

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FTC Approves Final Order Barring AmeriFreight from Deceptively Touting Online Consumer Reviews and Failing to Disclose Incentives It Provided to Reviewers

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order with AmeriFreight, an automobile shipment broker, which stops the company from touting its highly rated online reviews while failing to disclose that the company compensated consumers to write them.

According to the FTC’s February 2015 complaint, AmeriFreight represented that its online reviews were those of satisfied customers, but failed to disclose that AmeriFreight compensated the reviewers with discounts and incentives. AmeriFreight gave consumers $50 discounts to write favorable reviews, and offered consumers the chance to win an additional $100 if their review was selected for a monthly prize.

The final order settling the FTC’s complaint prohibits AmeriFreight from misrepresenting that their products or services are highly rated or top-ranked based on unbiased consumer reviews, or that customer reviews are unbiased. It also requires the company to clearly and prominently disclose any material connection, if one exists, between the company and its endorsers.