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ComCom receives complaint about 2 Cheap Cars' vouchers-for-reviews offer

The Commerce Commission has received a complaint about 2 Cheap Cars offering supermarket vouchers in exchange for five-star reviews on Google.

The commission said they have not yet assessed the complaint, but it brings the total number of complaints against 2 Cheap Cars to 16 for the year.

Over the weekend, the vehicle dealer offered $10 Pak n' Save vouchers to people who gave it a five-star review on Google.

"We Love Good Reviews!" the company wrote on its Facebook page. "Give us a 5 star review for your local 2 Cheap Cars Branch on Google, take a screenshot and send it to reviews@2cheapcars.co.nz then you will receive a $10 PAKn'SAVE voucher!"

The post was removed from Facebook on Sunday afternoon. 2 Cheap Cars have yet to comment but said a press release would become available today.

A spokesman for the Commission said "shoppers are increasingly going online and relying on reviews and endorsements, and we support the promotion of fairness in online reviews".

The Commission is a member of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network for which guidance states that traders and marketers should not write, commission or publish fake reviews, and should "disclose paid-for content clearly and prominently".

"Kiwis need to know they can trust what they read, and the Commission endorses the guidance issued by ICPEN," the spokesman said.

The Google pages for the different outlets showed a slew of five-star reviews had come through recently. Some outliers included a woman who gave a one-star review. "Any business who bribes it's [sic] customers to give you a good rating is a bad company well deserving of a one-star rating," she said.

Another man gave one star, saying "offering money for good reviews what a joke this company is. Know 3 people who have [bought] cars from here all to have major issues and refused to fix the issues. Don't waste your time".

"These guys were paying for reviews on Facebook with packnsave [sic] vouchers. Enough for a 1 star from me that's just dishonest! Speaks volumes," another said.

Sue Chetwin, chief executive of advocacy group Consumer, said the promotion was "appalling".

The promotion is also in conflict with Google content policies on reviews which state: "Don't offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor."

Last month the car dealer was ordered to pay $70,000 and is liable for more than $250,000 after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found serious breaches of minimum wage, holiday pay and record-keeping at the firm.

The inspectorate sampled 12 of the roughly 83 employees, and found they were owed $20,835.34 of entitlements by the company.

2 Cheap Cars was ordered last November to audit its records, which has so far uncovered estimated arrears of more than $250,000.

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