An embarrassed Ferrit has apologised after being caught writing its own consumer reviews by a blogger.
Spareroom Publishing journalist Ana Samways was tipped off about the Ferrit reviews by an acquaintance, who noticed they were all published at the same time and all gave glowing opinions of the product in question: a $500 toaster.
The reviews gave no indication they had been placed by Ferrit staffers, says Samways.
She contacted the online shopping mall’s head of marketing, Peter Wogan, who freely admitted they were Ferrit- generated. “Absolutely, some of our reviews are generated inhouse, [by] ... Ferrit staff [and] Telecom staff, and partner staff have reviewed products that they own or have used — toasters included.”
But, after news of the bogus consumer reviews rang round the local blogosphere, Ferrit changed its tune. Wogan apologised for the reviews, which are now being re-written to clearly identify they are by Ferrit staffers.
Saying, “We got the humour wrong”, Wogan says the reviews were meant to tie-in with an advertising campaign currently running, as well as to show customers what could be done with the toasters.
The integrity of information on Ferrit is absolutely critical, says Wogan, who defends the reviews by saying that the reviewers all either own or have used the toaster. They were not paid or given incentives to write the reviews, says Wogan.
Originally, the reviews, like this one written by “woganlookalike”, went along the following lines:
“Great for those mornings when two people want to get toasty — as you do. Ask Danno’s wife. We got one and are about to pop, so there you have it. I believe it comes in cream and other colours.”
All the “reviewers” gave the toaster five out of a five possible stars.
Wogan says that when Ferrit 2.0 launches it will be possible to check reviewers’ profiles, and rate them as well, as is possible with US online shopping giant Amazon. Currently, customers can’t see any identifying details about the reviewers, bar the nickname used.
The reviews have since been changed to reflect the fact that the writers work for either Ferrit, Telecom or associated advertising agencies.