New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has settled a complaint against a cosmetic surgery company who admits that it used its employees to pose as satisfied customers to praise its facelifts online. The company ordered employees to write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure, Lifestyle Lift, on websites. Lifestyle Lift also created its own sites of face-lift reviews to appear as independent testimonies. In an email, the company instructed employees to “devote the day to doing more postings on the Web as a satisfied client.”
Cuomo announced the $300,000 settlement on July 14 with the plastic surgery firm that created the Lifestyle Lift procedure—a procedure that is performed in doctors’ offices in New York and 21 other states. He believes his office is the first to address a crop of new so-called “Astroturf marketing” techniques, otherwise known as creating bogus grassroots buzz about a product. Lifestyle Lift has also agreed to stop publishing anonymous reviews on websites and to identify any fake reviews that were posted by employees. Cuomo’s office says that Lifestyle Lift violated consumer protection laws.
False reviews have become more of a problem with the advent of sites like Yelp, Epinions, or Amazon. In fact, review sites have grown so powerful that consumer reviews can destroy a new company before it even gets off of the ground. Unfortunately, as the Internet becomes increasingly more popular, readers will more often have to rely on themselves to weed out biased reviews. Indeed, many companies are hopping on the “Astroturf marketing” bandwagon, under the guise of “reputation management”.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.