or years, I have been discussing the problems and unfair competition caused by consumer complaint platforms, especially for sellers and providers. With the recent regulation changes in the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices as of February 1, 2022, revolutionary changes have been introduced for consumer complaint websites. While these regulations came into effect on March 1st, let’s examine what will change – or should change – in consumer complaint platform applications like sikayetvar.com or sikayetim.com.
- Only those who have purchased the relevant product or service will be allowed to write complaints
According to the changes made in the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices, only individuals who have purchased the relevant product or service will be allowed to write complaints. Before the change, when a consumer wanted to write a complaint on these platforms, a verification code was sent to the mobile phone number provided during registration to confirm their identity. However, there was no verification process to confirm whether the person writing a complaint about a product or service had actually purchased it. This practice even allowed competitors to write complaints about each other’s businesses.
With the regulatory changes, starting from March 1st, consumer complaint websites will require verification to confirm whether the person submitting the complaint has indeed purchased the product or service.
- Information about the resolution of complaints will be published.
Sellers or providers that receive negative reviews on the internet are significantly affected by these comments, so they often make efforts to reach out to consumers to resolve any issues. At the end of these efforts, the biggest expectation of the seller is to have the positive results published. However, at this stage, either the information that the complaint has been resolved is not provided by the consumer on the relevant platform, or the complaint platforms request fees to publish this information.
With the regulatory changes, if the information that the complaint has been resolved is provided by either the consumer or the seller, it must be published promptly on the platform after verification. Although the regulation does not clearly define how the verification will be done, it will likely require both parties to confirm that the issue has been resolved or for one of the parties to provide evidence of the resolution.
- A minimum of 72 hours will be given before a complaint is published.
To give sellers or providers mentioned in complaints the opportunity to respond or provide an explanation before the complaint is published, a minimum of 72 hours must be allowed for this purpose. If within this period or during the review, it is understood that the complaint does not reflect the truth, the complaint will not be published. However, the term “understood that the complaint does not reflect the truth” should be clearly defined. Prior to the regulatory change, it was commonly reported that complaints made by consumers were deleted or not published without any reason or explanation. In this regard, consumer complaint platforms should be cautious in making such assessments without assuming the role of a judicial authority or court.
With the regulatory changes, it is understood that complaints that have been resolved within the 72-hour period before publication will not be published. However, there is no regulation on how to handle complaints if they are withdrawn or resolved during this period. Before the regulatory change, this situation put sellers or providers in a difficult position, as they were often pressured to become members and pay fees to have their responses published. To prevent this, the regulatory changes emphasize the need for an effective communication method for sellers to exercise their rights.
What happens if these regulations are not followed?
According to the Consumer Protection Law, sanctions such as administrative fines and the suspension of the relevant unfair practice can be imposed on consumer complaint platforms that do not comply with these regulations. Consumers or sellers and providers also have the right to initiate compensation lawsuits if the non-compliance with the relevant regulations causes material or moral damage.