It’s easy to purchase things on Amazon.com. It’s just as easy writing reviews for those products. Unfortunately, it is also a breeze to hire someone to write fake Amazon reviews for a product they’ve never even tried.
On the internet there are companies offering to write reviews for as little as $25. For a few dollars more they’ll write reviews that will include customer photos and get the label “verified purchase.” What this means is that many reviews you see on Amazon are either fake or a paid positive review.
This is a problem for shoppers who rely on Amazon reviews when deciding which products to buy. A survey by Inc. magazine found 84% of people trust online review as much as friends. That’s a bit shocking because shouldn’t everyone know Amazon is filled with fake reviews?
Amazon attempts to remove known fake reviews but there are simply too many for any company to keep track. A British consumer watchdog group “Which?” did an analysis of 5-star reviews on Amazon and found that a majority of reviews of tech products were unverified.
We did a little research and found an even more disturbing fact: many of the products chosen as “Amazon’s Choice” are just as likely to have fake reviews.
One such product, a fitness tracker under the brand “YAMAY” has a solid 4.3 stars and over 2,200 reviews. By being chosen as Amazon’s choice, it makes the product more attractive to shoppers.
But a closer look using the fake tracker website “ReviewMeta,” shows there are hundreds of “unnatural reviews.” Removing those, the tracker has just 235 reviews and a 2.5 star rating. ReviewMeta gives it a failing grade because of repetitive phrases in the reviews, suspicious reviewers and reviewers who’ve written about other products by the same company.
Don’t put too much into the Amazon review before deciding which gadget to buy. Fake reviews continue to plague Amazon.com, despite any of their reported steps to remove them.
The British consumer group “Which?” released a new report of what its investigation revealed, and it’s worse than we thought. “Which?” looked at hundreds of products including headphones, fitness trackers and smartwatches. It found, according to the report, that top-rated products in the tech categories are dominated by oddly named brands such as ITSHINY, Vogek and Aitalk.
In a search for headphones, according to the “Which?” report, every result on the first page was from an unknown brand, and nearly 90% of reviews were from unverified purchasers. The last time we checked Amazon for fake reviews, we found almost every review for unknown brands was from an unverified purchaser.
Earlier this year, Amazon again stated it understood there’s a fake review problem and is combating it with humans who analyze reviews as they are submitted.
When we searched Amazon for fitness trackers, the first few pages of results were from brands We’d never heard of. Tuoliwei, YZJ, and FSYCQ all had products listed with 5-star reviews. One from YZJ had 74 reviews, and every one of them was a glowing 5-star. As we read through some of the reviews, it was obvious they were written by someone with a script or by a bot. A few were identical, written allegedly by multiple users. We found it interesting that one reviewer said, “Try to get it ASAP,” as if to say before Amazon removed it and the reviews from the website. When we checked back a few hours later, the tracker could not be found. Even searches for the brand name Tuoliwei and FSYCQ came back with no results.
We found a pair of wireless earbuds with over 800 reviews. All are five-star, and some of the reviews are so obviously fake it’s laughable. Two referred to the headphones as “like sleeping on a cloud” while two others remarked that it’s much softer than the ones you find in hotels. Every review was written between April 12th and 13th. “Which?” shared the results of its investigation with ReviewMeta which did its own analyzing and discovered every five-star unverified review of the top 10 pairs of headphones were fake.
The problem persists. The question for consumers is, “how do you know which review is real and which one is fake?”
You can always search for the product and company outside of Amazon and check out the product using the websites ReviewMeta.com, or Fakespot.com. Don’t put too much stock in Amazon reviews. If you can’t find the product somewhere else and the company doesn’t have a web presence, it’s probably best to pay a little more for a brand name you trust.