Should Amazon do more to clamp down on fake reviews?
Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey has urged Amazon to do more to end the practise of suspicious and fake reviews on the site.
The move comes after a report by Which? revealed that second rate items - primarily made in China - have positive reviews on the website, with many of them even carrying an ‘Amazon’s Choice’ endorsement, something that consumers trust and rely on when making purchases.
Gedey said: “It’s a major issue for Amazon to look at.
“Fake reviews are still being extensively used by unscrupulous online sellers, and that undermines honest Sellers on the site.”
The report made national news in England after putting eight “recommended” products through rigorous tests.
Three of the eight products rated so poorly they were rated as a ‘Don’t Buy’, which the respected consumer group advises buyers to avoid at all costs.
One particular product - a set of Yineme headphones - had a huge numbers of positive reviews that included photos and videos alongside them, producing a 4.4 out of 5 rating.
But Which? handed it a ‘Don’t Buy’ warning through their own testing, and after reporting its findings to Amazon, the product was made ‘currently unavailable’ and the customer reviews were deleted.
The consumer group found that sellers were offering incentives for fake positive reviews that include pictures and videos, highlighting the Onson cordless vacuum cleaner as another example pf the practise.
Which? said a sudden surge of positive reviews over a short period should be seen as a tell-tale sign they are unreliable.
They added that this is an important issue “as online reviews influence about £23billion of UK transactions a year, according to the Competition and Markets Authority”.
In a report published by the Daily Mail, Which? head of home products and services Natalie Hitchins said: “There appears to be no sense of urgency from the industry to tackle this problem so it’s down to the regulator.”
A response from Amazon stated: “In the last year alone, we’ve spent over $400million to protect customers from reviews abuse.
“Last year, we prevented more than 13 million attempts to leave an inauthentic review and we took action against more than five million bad actor accounts attempting to manipulate reviews.”
The Competition and Markets Authority said: “We’re already cracking down on fake reviews and have recently urged Facebook and eBay to act to stop the sale of fake reviews through their sites. As part of our ongoing work, we are planning to examine the role of websites where people post reviews.”
Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Gedey says that attempts so far need to go further.
He explained: “Reviews on Amazon are such an integral part of consumers’ buying experience that the process needs to be completely above board.
“Having rouge Amazon Sellers being able to manipulate the system is bad enough, but when they are doing that to push products that fall well below the expected standard, then the whole platform’s integrity comes into question.
“Amazon are clearly aware of the issue and have taken steps to amend it, but more could undoubtedly be done, as the report by Which? illustrates. It’s a crucial issue and one that needs addressing head on."
"There are many ways Amazon Sellers can increase the number of product reviews they receive by not paying for them or offering incentives to buyers. The latter often leads to a review manipulation suspension that can seriously harm the Amazon Seller. The outcome of a review manipulation suspension is lost revenue and the loss of all the fake reviews.
If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Amazon Seller business back online as quickly as possible.