As leading Online retailer in the US, Amazon sells pretty much everything. (As the logo says, A to Z.) Whether you’re looking online for a cheap portable charger, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, or headphones for your kids, Amazon is probably your first stop. And when it comes time to choose between similar-looking products, most people rely on user reviews.
The problem is that many Amazon reviews are fake. Unscrupulous or desperate sellers pay for rave reviews, and some offer gift certificates or free products in exchange for five-star reviews. Occasionally, sellers will even ask for false negative reviews of competing products. It’s difficult to know for sure what’s real, but you can reduce your risk of being scammed if you know the warning signs. We’ve put together some tips that can help.
Fake Amazon reviews
When you shop on Amazon, there’s a good chance you’ll see some fake reviews. The majority is positive and touts the merits of a product in suspiciously glowing terms. Short five-star reviews are probably designed to trick the system by boosting a product’s ranking and visibility. But there are also more subtle attempts to get you to buy, where paid reviewers go into detail, maybe share photos, and even include a downside alongside many pros. For example, you can give a product four stars out of five, which can be very convincing.
Some sellers engage in paid negative reviews to criticize competing products. These are usually one star reviews that focus on cons and often mention another product that compares favorably to try and steer you there.
How Amazon Sellers Get Fake Reviews
Sellers want to increase their sales, and reviews can do that. The reviewers want to earn cash or free products. This is why the fake review marketplace is thriving. There are foreign companies that sell blocks of positive reviews, social media groups that organize teams of reviewers, and companies that offer all kinds of incentives to convince real buyers to leave a positive review. Sellers also offer refunds or other rewards to convince buyers to remove or edit negative feedback. Reply All The Magic Shop Episode covers some common scenarios and is a fun listen on the topic.
How to avoid fake reviews
We’re not talking high-priced items and big brands, where you can easily find legitimate media reviews (although fakes are a different problem altogether). If we may be so bold, here at WIRED you will find real product recommendations and honest reviews.
However, most fake reviews target affordable items from unknown brands that only have reviews on Amazon. While it’s not possible to avoid false reviews, you can reduce their impact on your purchasing decisions.
Start by confirming the verified product. Some listings have multiple products or are upgrading the product listing to a newer version, but still have older reviews attached. Your first step is to switch the rating list from top ratings to Latest to find out what the latest buyers are saying.