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This chapter is an extract from LegalVision’s Online Business Manual. Download the full guide here.

This is Part 2 of the Selling chapter. It covers reviews, getting paid, third party payment processors and merchant bank accounts.


Customers are increasingly relying on online reviews to help make their purchasing decisions, and so positive reviews are valuable currency for your business. If you collect online reviews from satisfied customers, make sure you don’t fall foul of Australia’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Try to follow these simple rules:

Don’t edit or remove bad reviews.

If it’s on a social media platform, we recommend thanking the customer for taking time to let you know their concerns and letting them know that you will send them a private message to resolve the issue.

Disclose any commercial relationship.

It’s not illegal to pay social media influencers to review your product as long as your customers know about the endorsement. Businesses and bloggers should disclose any commercial relationship in clear and unambiguous language.

Locate and delete fake reviews on your website.

Online business owners should weed out any fake and misleading reviews about their business. Look for reviews that use similar language to other reviews, are from the same email or are written in an overly positive tone.

Quick Tip

The ACCC has provided some practical guidance about how diligent a business should be when monitoring its social media pages:

  • If your business has 300 staff, the ACCC will expect that you have the systems and resources to detect promptly and remove misleading posts.
  • Similarly, if your business has only ten staff, but 50,000 friends on Facebook, the ACCC considers that the potential risks to consumers of a misleading post are high. So, these posts should be removed in a short space of time.
  • On the other hand, if your business has 12 staff and 80 friends on Facebook, the ACCC would not expect you to monitor your social media pages rigorously and remove posts as quickly as the other two companies.

Getting Paid

When selling products or services online, providing customers with the option to purchase your goods or services using a credit card is one of the quickest and
easiest ways to get paid.

You will likely have come across a variety of payment processors available to help you, but before selecting a payment processor for your business, it’s a good idea to understand the legalities involved with accepting credit card payments online.

The best option available to help you easily accept credit card payments is by using an all-in-one third-party payment processor (e.g. Stripe, PayPal or Braintree). Alternatively, you may choose to use a merchant bank account in conjunction with a payment gateway or processor (a third-party service that authorises payment processing on your behalf).

Picking either one of these options may mean you need to comply with Australian privacy laws, the PCI DSS and the terms of service of the merchant bank or payment processor.

What is the PCI DSS?

The PCI DSS is a set of standards developed by major credit card companies to protect against credit card scams and fraud. While third-party payment providers will provide reasonable security measures, you have ultimate responsibility for complying with the PCI DSS. This makes it all the more important that you implement industry standard security measures, such as firewalls, encryption software and antivirus software, to protect sensitive credit card information. If nothing else, make sure any operating system software is up to date.

Third Party Payment Processors

All-in-one third-party payment processors such as Stripe, Braintree, PayPal and Pin Payments provide:

  • the payment gateway for you to accept credit cards online (customers can enter their credit card details on your checkout page)
  • credit card processing services (Stripe contacts Visa or Mastercard to authorise the relevant transaction and once received, ensures that funds enter the correct bank account)
  • an aggregated merchant bank account (Stripe processes the transactions on your behalf through its own merchant account, and then distributes the funds into your regular business account)

Third-party payment processors are a cheaper option than personal merchant bank accounts if your business doesn’t handle a large volume of transactions. The need for a personal merchant bank account is minimised by using a third-party payment processor, as they have their own aggregated merchant bank account.

Merchant Bank Accounts

Merchant bank accounts are similar to regular bank accounts, except they exist for the primary purpose of holding funds collected from credit and debit card sales. They still require a payment gateway to transmit the customer’s credit card information between the website and the merchant account. Once the funds are in the merchant account, they are transferred out to a regular business bank account.

Using a merchant bank account means that you are likely to have greater control over when funds from credit card payments are sent to your standard bank account. This can help with managing cash flow. If you are processing a higher volume of transactions, you may be able to negotiate lower transaction fees with your merchant bank account.

If you have any questions about how to deal with bad reviews, or you want to understand the payment process you want to set up with your customers, you can contact LegalVision’s online business lawyers by calling 1300 544 755 or filling out the form on this page.

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