• Craig Gedey

Amazon must do more to tackle fraudulent five-star reviews

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey says more must still be done by Amazon after news emerged that it has taken action against fraudulent five-star reviews taking place in the UK.

An investigation by leading newspaper the Financial Times uncovered the fact that the number one Amazon reviewer in the UK, Justin Fryer, left a five-star rating an average of once every four hours during August. Fryer then appears to have resold the products on eBay, with many of them from Chinese companies.

Scams like these are not uncommon and often start on social media networks. Once the connection has been made, the reviewer chooses a free product, then waits a few days to post their five-star review. Once that has happened, they receive a full refund, and sometimes, an extra payment.

Amazon has a specific rule against posting reviews in exchange for “compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.” But the Financial Times investigation revealed that nine of the 10 top reviewers in the UK appear to have engaged in suspicious activity.

Since the report, Amazon has taken down 20,000 product reviews - they had been written by seven of the top 10 reviewers including Fryer, who has maintained that he did not get paid to post the five-star ratings. The Times also reported that Fryer says the listings on eBay were used for “unused” and “unopened” extras.

Amazon also issued a statement on the matter, saying that reviews are analysed before they go public, with 10 million submissions looked at every week. The statement added: “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant. We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”

Back in December 2019 Thompson and Holt raised concerns about Amazon Fake reviews, read the full story here.

Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Gedey has welcomed Amazon’s action but also believes much more can be done to prevent fraudulent reviews and improve the customer experience on the site.

Gedey said: “While it is good news that 20,000 product reviews have been taken down by Amazon, it is somewhat disconcerting that it has taken a newspaper investigation to uncover activity on this scale.

“If Amazon’s own systems were as thorough as they often make out, then there would be no chance that this number of fraudulent reviews could be taking place. The Financial Times’ investigation is to be applauded and the results should certainly enhance both customer experience on the site and the opportunities for genuine Sellers who abide by the rules.

“But there were enough clear patterns in what they uncovered to suggest that Amazon themselves could be much better at monitoring exactly who is posting these five-star reviews on such a regular basis, and their motives for doing so.

“This news should tighten and increase Amazon’s policies for fraudulent reviews so that it doesn’t reach this kind of scale again. Remember this is only for the UK - their findings in other countries could make very interesting reading.

“Fake reviews have been an issue for Amazon for a long time. Fakespot, a company that analyses ratings fraud, found that 58 percent of products in the UK appeared to have fake reviews. That is quite simply a staggering, and worrying amount, and much more needs to be done to combat it.”

Amazon review collection - third party software

Some Amazon Sellers have been suspended for review manipulation through using third party software to collect reviews. If Amazon sellers use this type of software to collect reviews they need to make sure it complies with Amazons policies, if they are unsure they should check with the software provider. There are also some useful tips on how to get great reviews on Amazon here.

Amazon Account Suspended due to Review Manipulation?

If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon due to review manipulation, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.

Thompson and Holt are also offering a free months trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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