Holiday accommodation booking giant Bachcare has admitted misleading consumers by deleting online reviews.
The property and management company pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court to charges under the Fair Trading Act for deleting or editing customer-posted reviews on the internet.
The charges were brought by the Commerce Commission which said Bachcare removed negative comments from some reviews before publishing them on its website.
It further revealed Bachcare did not publish any reviews to which consumers had given a star rating of less than 3.5 out of 5.
In doing so, the commission said Bachcare engaged in conduct that was liable to mislead consumers by creating artificially positive impressions about certain properties.
Bachcare currently manages about 2000 properties across the country, with more than 150,000 customers per year.
The charges followed a Commerce Commission investigation and relate to conduct between June 1, 2017, and September 28 last year.
The company was set to appear in court yesterday.
The Herald has confirmed it has now entered a guilty plea by way of notice to the court.
Sentencing will take place on December 11.
The summary of facts relating to the offending was not yet available.
Bachcare's chief executive Leslie Preston said that "for the past 15 years Bachcare has strived to run a business with a high level of integrity and professionalism".
"We have fully cooperated with the Commerce Commission throughout its 20-month investigation and have met every request," Preston said.
"These charges relate solely to the period from June 2017 to September 2018. We apologise wholeheartedly that this has happened. The reviews and ratings related only to a percentage of those on our site, however all star rating and review materials from this period have been permanently removed," Preston said.
"We can confirm we have new practices in place, shared with the Commerce Commission which relate to all reviews on our site. We look forward to a resolution of this matter and are unable to comment further as the case continues to be before the court."