The Unreliability of Online Review Mechanisms

M Narciso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Online reviews have an undeniable impact on the market and are an important source of consumer information. From a legal perspective, online reviews actively influence consumers' decisions to enter into a contract. Moreover, online reviews convey pre-contractual information that consumers find relevant and easy to understand, unlike the pre-contractual information disclosed as a result of EU law-based information duties. From this perspective, online reviews could potentially be seen as a complement of the flawed EU law-based information paradigm and regulatory improvement options based on reviews could be explored. However, the unreliability of online reviews is an obstacle that haunts consumers, practitioners, regulators, and academics alike. This unreliability has previously been identified as a reason not to award online reviews a more significant role in the EU law-based regulatory framework of pre-contractual information in consumer contracts. This paper explores the merits of this argument by discussing how the unreliability of online reviews is currently regulated. This paper takes a broad perspective on regulation, focusing not only on EU consumer legislation, but also looking at standardization, soft law, self-regulation, and the role of national consumer authorities. Overall, this paper argues that there are sufficient measures in place to shift the debate from the unreliability of reviews to reviews' potential role in the protection of consumer informational interests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-368
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Policy
Issue number3
Early online date12 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Consumer information
  • EU consumer law
  • online platforms
  • online reviews
  • word-of-mouth


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