Skytrax amend website wording, but are recognised for rigorous authentication process applied to processing and checking of user reviews

London, UK, 2012-11-08 — / — After complaints to an advertising regulator by a self-appointed critic of review sites, Skytrax were requested to change some review website wording.

The ASA requested change of trusted and genuine wording for user reviews. This was due to our data privacy policy, by which a user’s personal e-mail details are deleted 24 hours after a review is checked, accepted or rejected. In applying this data privacy process to personal details, the ASA said we could not track a review back to its source after this 24 hour authentication period. A strange way to reward openness and an honest commitment to respect our users, but they are the regulator.

The ASA summary about Skytrax review checking and authentication process stated:  “the approach of assessing every review individually before accepting it for publication, including subjecting it to manual checks by members of staff, was a robust one likely to identify the vast majority of non-genuine reviews submitted, and that the additional checks carried out by Skytrax staff would provide a further layer of security on that issue. Skytrax described a rigorous authentication process with a number of checks and balances which, if consistently implemented, would be likely to successfully identify most false reviews submitted. However, because Skytrax deleted user information soon after receiving a submission, they were not able to provide evidence demonstrating that the reviews which existed on the site at the time of the complaint had been subjected to, and passed, that procedure.”

Edward Plaisted of Skytrax commented:

“We have never been accused of posting false or defamatory reviews, and all user created content featured on our websites has been checked and authenticated by our in-house, website staff. With over 1400 airlines and airports featured on our website, not one of these companies has ever complained about user reviews being false, defamatory or unfair. That in itself underlines some doubtful, self-serving commercial interests at play when a self-appointed critic of review sites attempts to undermine confidence in a proven and established user forum.  Had we received complaints from our users, an airline or airport, it would of course have been treated with more seriousness.”

“We have always stated that reviews we feature are users’ opinions, and should be considered as just that – the user opinion and not a declared fact. The integrity of user reviews on our site is our top priority, and I am pleased the regulator could state that our review authentication and checking processes are robust.”

“Some misleading statements were made in the complaint, portraying a lack of proper understanding about the review and ranking process. To then have the complainant deliberately trying to post false reviews was churlish, illustrating that a self-appointed reviewer seeking to review the reviewers is just silly.”

For the World Airline Star Ranking we were requested to change the generic term “Official Quality Star Ranking”, but can of course maintain full use of the established, key terminology such as “official Skytrax 5-Star Airline” and related Official Skytrax Star Rating levels for all Airline and Airport Star Ranking Programmes.

In the UK market, we have changed what is stated about ranking review frequency. “We invited the regulator to attend our in-house Star Ranking meetings and witness the regular review processes, but they declined to verify matters in such a practical format,” said Plaisted.