In the last decade, we had seen the rise of online shopping which still continues to grow much bigger. Though most of the sales are still happening through the brick and mortar stores, many consumer electronic companies have seen the online shopping as a way to sell their products directly to the consumers. The online pricing of the products is cheaper than offline since there is no middleman in between the company and consumer, while the sellers also save money by not having any showrooms.
The main disadvantage of the online shopping is that the consumers can’t get their hands on the products before purchasing unlike in the retail stores. Which is when they keep their belief on the reviews that help consumers when doing a purchase. Amazon, the largest online-based retailer in the world, has a review and rating system for every product. To put it fair and clear, the company mentions the review of the user who purchased the product on product listing page as a verified review.
According to a study done by ReviewMeta.com of over 7 million Amazon reviews, it was found that the incentivized reviews were positive over the Non-Incentivized reviews. The difference might not be huge, but the result of this leads to a far more effect on the final sales of the products. The product reviewers who haven’t paid for their products come with a positive review. Also since no money was involved, they would care very less about the product’s service or the warranty and many other factors that come up after the sale has happened.
They just look into the features and ignore the other aspects that a general buyer would get, but still end up giving a higher rating since that’s the barter on which the product was sent to them. In fact, it is shocking that the incentivized reviews volume has grown in the last 2 years by almost hitting 50%, controlling the sales made by a few sellers. Not to forget, apart from the list of websites that are publicly offering these services and connecting the reviewers with the sellers, there are many private Facebook groups and discussion boards where these activities are happening on which Amazon has no control & would never have.
Q: Can we believe all the verified reviews on Amazon?
A: Not many of the users who bought the product on Amazon write up a review, but there are few who share the feedback along with a rating from 1-5. Though there are genuine reviewers, the sellers take the review system as an advantage and gets the fake review with 4 or 5-star ratings.If you are buying a high-value product, it is Important to do a diligent check on the reviews, and if you research a bit, you could find the pattern based on which few of the fake reviews could be found. There are many agencies and websites that offer fake reviews on Amazon, below is the list of a few of those websites.
Q: How do paid reviews work?
A: The buyers on Amazon looks for the product with good reviews, so sellers look for getting the good ratings for the same. Now the sellers offer a voucher or a promotional code with 80% – 100% discount and the reviewer needs to submit a positive review with 4-5 star rating. The reviewer on Amazon get the products for free, and the seller gets the positive review which in return increases the sales, but the buyer who buys the products bases on the reviews get fooled.
Q: What does Federal Trade Commission (FTC) say about paid reviews?
A: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a U.S based independent agency that takes care of the consumer protection from the paid reviews, branded content and others activities. In December last year, it came up with a new set of rules where the publisher or the reviewer need to mention the paid content about a product as sponsored. Even the Amazon review also falls under the FTC Act. Since it cannot look after each and ever review if you find some wrong activities you can report to FTC over fraud or unfair businesses on this website. Earlier this month, Warner Bros were slammed by FTC over not disclosing the paid reviews of the game “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.”
Q: How does the fake paid reviews differentiate from the Amazon Vine program?
A: While few reviewers are paid to give the positive review (that too verified reviews) and also get the products for free. With the Amazon Vine program, the curated users are given the products for free, and they need to publish the honest Review. While we can’t believe the fake reviews, even 100% Vine reviews aren’t honest. We think, getting a product for free or almost free makes the review biased towards the seller.
Q: How to spot fishy reviews?
A: Look for the company’s official website and search for the product on other stores or internet. Most of the products come with a name resembling the popular product in the same category. Check for the 5 stars reviews and you find lot more reviews with almost similar images and wording in the fake paid reviews. There is also a website called FakeSpot, where users can paste the link of the particular product to get the rating for the reviews. You can also search on Twitter for the “Product + Review” related tweets or check out the facebook messages on the brand’s official page to ensure that you are looking at the actual review.
Amazon also dragged the California based Jay Gentile to the court who is said to run buyazonreviews.com website for writing paid reviews. Gentile also said that the sellers used to ship just empty box in order to get the reviewers a verified purchase badge. Now there also paid negative reviews which decrease the sales of the product that are managed by third-party companies to write negative reviews for the competitor products. Amazon might improve their review system in the coming days, but their Vine program isn’t 100% perfect.
When we asked few sellers on why Amazon has not stopped when all this has been happening in public, we were told that ultimately its Amazon who is getting the business by hook or cook. Why would they stop this?
Would you still purchase something on Amazon based on the positive verified reviews when you know that these kind of suspicious activities are happening? If yes, let us know more in the comments section.
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