FTC to investigate claims Coupang has been manipulating product reviews
The Fair Trade Commission will look into whether Coupang manipulated product reviews, following accusations from civic organizations.
On March 15, civic groups such as the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and The Voice of Consumers accused Coupang of making their employees write positive reviews for CPLB products.
CPLB is a subsidiary wholly owned by Coupang. It sells everyday items such as clothes, pet supplies and food on the e-commerce website.
The civic groups claim Coupang ordered its employees to write positive reviews for some 42,000 CPLB products since July last year, when the subsidiary started business. They said the reviews didn't explicitly state they were written by Coupang or CPLB workers, even though a disclaimer is required for reviews by employees of affiliates and people who were given the products for free.
The FTC said it will investigate whether the civic groups' claims are true and if Coupang violated the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act and the Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.
According to the civic groups, a suspected Coupang or CPLB employee bought huge amount of products — 600 latex gloves, 350 masks, 150 liters (40 gallons) of cat litter sand throughout a month — and gave five stars to CPLB products but left one star ratings on non-Coupang products.
The civic groups also claimed that the positive reviews and higher star ratings made CPLB products show up at the top of a search, giving them more exposure and leading to more purchases.
Regarding the claims, Coupang fired back and said the civic groups are lying.
The company released a statement saying all reviews written by its employees have disclaimers saying so. It added that there aren't many reviews written by employees in the first place, and that ones by real customers — referring to people who paid for the products — make up for 99.9 percent of the total.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]