The penalty stems from a decision in November last year which found the Meriton Serviced Apartments brand engaged in a practice of ‘masking’ email addresses over an 11-month period from November 2014 to October 2015.
This practice prevented guests from having the opportunity to share their first-hand account of their stay with other travellers who may have been considering booking their own stay at a Meriton property in Sydney, Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
While vigorously denied by Meriton at the time, the Court found the process employed by the company would prevent potentially aggrieved guests from posting a negative review through TripAdvisor’s ‘Review Express’ email invitation service.
“Meriton’s management directed staff to engage in ‘masking’ to stop potentially negative reviews from appearing on TripAdvisor. This gave the impression Meriton accommodation was of a higher standard than otherwise may have been the case,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court.
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