Friday, October 20, 2023

Accepting Payment For Online Reviews

I read with interest in a Straits Times article as restaurant owner Charlene Yan posted online on Oct 4th that food website asked for $2300 to be featured on their food blog. In addition, the email she received from one of Seth Lui's employee's offering her a spot on that list to be placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd position for an additional $400 to $600. No research, no actual food tasting done, just asking for money straight up to be featured on that list.

No prices for guessing when ST reported in the newspapers on 20th October, 2023 that paid restaurant reviews are "standard practice". Singapore chef Benny Se Teo said paid food reviews are definitely on the rise and raise concerns about objectivity since financial interests are entangled with the restaurants they are reviewing. 

The Advertising Standards Authority Of Singapore states on its website that it should be clear that "anyone who looks at the advertisement is able to see, without reading it closely, that it is an advertisement and not editorial matter".

That means any compensation like a free drink or dessert that a food blogger receives, should be clearly disclosed to the reader or viewer. If payment by the establishment is made, to be on such lists, it is then no longer an editorial decision but an advertisment and that must be clearly stated otherwise that list has no credibility.

Will you be surprised that this happens in the healthcare industry too. I received a total of 3 emails (pictured above and below) dated 14th, 16th and 20th October, asking if we want our clinics to be featured in the "25 Best Physiotherapy Clinics in Singapore (2023)". Their fees range from $500 to $2000.

You would think that the employee sending me the emails would have kept in touch with the brouhaha regarding paid restaurant reviews after it went viral on RedditFacebookand of course the newspapers.

At least I know the employee is persistent since I received 3 emails asking if our clinic wanted to be on that 'best' physiotherapy clinic list.

Aized tells me that we have been approached multiple times as well to be on such lists on print copies of magazines targeted at the expatriate coummunities too. 

The authenticity of such reviews for physiotherapy clinics are definitely questionable. Our clinics probably will not be on such lists since we do not pay to be on them.The main criteria for compiling a list like this is monetary and without full disclosure to the readers. Now you know.

Thankfully, majority of patients who see us and get better refer us to their family members and friends so we do not have to be on such lists.

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