WICHITA – A northwest Wichita apartment complex told its tenants they could get $20 off their rent if they leave a five-star review. Friday, we heard from the complex. Also, we spoke to an attorney on whether this crosses the line from a legal standpoint.
Residents weren’t happy when they say they didn’t get $20 off their rent right away. The complex says the $20 credit has to go through its corporate office. And a Wichita lawyer weighs in on whether the apartment complex can even do this.
“Is an influenced… or incentivized… or paid-for… or bribed-for online review in a consumer transaction a fair review?” said criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat.
One of the many questions asked when it comes to whether apartment complexes can legally tell tenants to leave a 5-star review for $20 off rent. Residents of Magnolia Woods Apartments at 13th and West St. say that’s what management asked them to do in an email.
KAKE spoke to two residents Thursday who put in their review, but say they didn’t receive their discount as of Thursday. Magnolia Woods responded to us on Friday and tells us in a statement in part: “The company who owns the properties offered a $20 credit to any tenants who were willing to share their positive experience about living at Magnolia Woods, as well as at other properties. There is a process in place to ask for the credit once the review was posted and that credit is handled through the corporate office.”
But is asking tenants to leave a positive experience at magnolia woods for a discount on rent crossing the line?
“If it’s a biased, exaggerated, or untrue review, then it may qualify as a deceptive practice or act made illegal by either the Kansas Consumer Protection Act or the Federal Trade Commission Act,” said Monnat.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website on soliciting and paying for online reviews says in part: “If you offer an incentive for a review, don’t condition it, explicitly or implicitly, on the review being positive. Even without that condition, the review should disclose the incentive, because its offer may introduce bias or change the weight and credibility that readers give the review.” The apartment management says the $20 credits have been applied to the residents who left a review, and they were not charged any type of fee regarding this promotion. A spokesperson also apologized for the misunderstanding.
See the full interview at KAKE.com