Warning issued as UK medical clinics using fake Google reviews

A stock image of a dentist

A stock image of a dentist

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 02/08/2023

- 12:18

Rishi Sunak’s Government is looking at toughening laws to protect consumers

Medical clinics have been using fake Google reviews to boost their online profiles.

Internet firms are being encouraged to do more to remove fake reviews and fine companies for distorting their profiles.

Consumer choice charity Which? warned it would be a serious issue if a patient chose to undergo treatment at a clinic based on a fake review.

Fake reviews can appear on several websites, including Amazon and the App Store.

Smiles Better in Manchester

Smiles Better in Manchester

Google Street View

Dr Amit Patel’s Ipswich Spine Clinic registered a 4.9 star Google reviews rating.

A fake customer wrote about Ipswich Spine Clinic: “Dr Amit was brilliant…he assessed my injury quickly and came up with a treatment plan, I felt that I was in safe hands and highly recommend this place.”

The BBC investigation also revealed five people who gave Ipswich Spine Clinic a high rating also posted negative comments against one of its local competitors.

The broadcaster approached Dr Patel but was told marketing was outsourced to India and claimed he was not aware of the Google reviews.

Dr Patel has since asked for the disingenuous reviews to be taken down.

However, a number of reviewers giving five stars also endorsed businesses from as far away a the US, Australia, Austria and Canada.

The reviews ranged from property conveyancing, car repairs and hookah pipes.

Smiles Better dentist in Manchester received praise from a reviewer called Rose Bellamy.

Ipswich Spine Clinic

Ipswich Spine Clinic

Google Street View

The reviewer later that month posted other ratings for a removal company in Australia, a restaurant in Sweden, an immigration company in Canada and a spa in the US.

A spokesperson from the Department of Business & Trade said: "We're strengthening the law against fake reviews to protect consumers who spend an estimated £23 billion a year on items based off online reviews.

"We will publish a consultation later this year on our proposals so we are ready to implement these after the Bill receives Royal Assent, including giving the [Competition and Markets Authority] the power to fine these rogue traders."

A Google spokeswoman added: "Our policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take swift action ranging from content removal to account suspension and even litigation."

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