Online sales: EU rules for reviews

Reviews on your website are subject to rules. For instance, fake reviews are forbidden and you are not allowed to simply take down negative reviews. If you do, you could be fined up to €2 million. Find out what is and is not allowed by law.

You can allow your customers to review your products or services. You post those reviews on your website.

Positive reviews can be valuable because customers find reviews important. Many consumers read reviews before buying something. But for posting reviews on your website, you have to follow the rules.

Required to explain review policy

You must explain in your review policy how you deal with reviews on your website. In it, you describe that you only post customer reviews and how you control that. For instance, by letting customers post reviews via an account. You also indicate what you do to prevent fake reviews. 

You can also describe that you check reviews and adjust them if necessary before posting them. You can only edit a review if there is a good reason to do so. For example, you can delete a racist comment.

If you show a review score for products or services, include how you calculate that score. For instance, customers can give 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars.

Describe clearly what your review policy is. Also, make sure customers can easily find that policy on your website.

Rules for posting and removing reviews

Be honest and show reviews from real customers. You may not post reviews of your own products or services by posing as a customer. It is also forbidden to post your own likes on social media to advertise your websites, products, or services.

You may pay someone or give them a product as a gift for writing a review. But only if you say this. For example, by adding the text 'sponsored' to the review.

If you remove a negative review, state the reason. For example, if the review is demonstrably incorrect or unfair. If you can prove that the negative review is fake, you do not have to do this.

You can link from your own websites to other websites on which your products or services have been reviewed. If you do so, you must be sure that those reviews are genuine.

Fined of up to €2 million

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) are the enforcers of the new rules for online sales.

The fines can amount to 4% of your annual turnover or a maximum of €2 million. If the offence is repeated, the percentage can increase to 10% of your annual turnover.

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