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Luxury skincare company Sunday Riley settled with the Federal Trade Commission after an accusation that it had been posting fake online reviews to Sephora’s website for years.

A user on Reddit exposed the company back in October 2018. The whistleblower was allegedly an employee at Sunday Riley and posted an email from an executive in the company encouraging employees to post fake positive reviews on Sephora’s website. Employees used a VPN so their computers were untraceable. The company also requested that employees dislike any negative reviews, because with enough dislikes, Sephora would remove the negative reviews.

Many skincare brands don’t test their products long enough to have solid scientific evidence that they work, so they rely on online reviews to build brand recognition and loyalty. What Sunday Riley did was deceptive and unethical. Companies should earn authentic positive reviews from customers.

What brands can learn from this

Sunday Riley should have focused on reaching out to customers instead of its employees to write reviews. The brand has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media as well as customer emails it could market to. Additionally, since the focus was on obtaining online reviews, Sunday Riley could have posted signs in stores asking for feedback on review sites including Sephora.

From this scandal brands can learn that customer service should come before reviews. By giving the best experience possible to a customer, good reviews will flow in on their own. And ReviewMaxer can help make that happen.

What consumers can learn from this

Customers are getting better at evaluating the credibility of online reviews. Buying a product based on glowing reviews and then finding out it was all a lie is infuriating. Ultimately, when companies try to trick consumers, it turns them into smarter shoppers. Consumers should learn not to trust reviews at face value and how to spot when a review is fake, so in the future, they can find a brand they can trust.


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