A negative comment left on Consumer New Zealand's website, found to be linked to a PR agency, reveals not everything posted online is as it seems.
In an article published on advocacy group Consumer NZ's website, chief executive Sue Chetwin said a "fake review" is a warning for consumers.
The fake review was posted about Consumer NZ's operations and Flick Electric.
"We love comments and reviews. They help us improve what we do. They often provide good story ideas. This comment did neither. But it did raise suspicion," Chetwin said.
"The reviewer rang our office shortly after it was posted, asking for it to be taken down. Not because of any remorse I suspect, but because her name was attached to it.
"It didn't take long [a Google search] to find out she worked for a PR company, which counted a competing electricity retailer among its clients."
Chetwin said she found the act concerning as it questioned the organisation's integrity.
"I'm not so naïve to think competitors wouldn't make comments on our site, just like they do on every review site. But what concerned me was the questioning of Consumer NZ's integrity," she said.
"One of the beauties of belonging to us is that people trust our advice. We've built a business on it.
"I rang the PR woman who posted it. I wanted to know whether this was company practice [we're not talking a small PR firm here].
"After some bluster, she apologised. She broke down. She said she realised, after it had been posted, it was foolish.
"Her managing director then phoned. She apologised too. The posting breached their own guidelines, she said."
Chetwin questioned the intentions behind the act.
"Maybe it was a mistake. But maybe it was a mistake because they got caught," she said.
"I'll let you judge."