Published: Fri, April 19, 2019
Economy | By

Watchdog Group Warning About Fake Five-Star Reviews On Amazon

Watchdog Group Warning About Fake Five-Star Reviews On Amazon

"It took just a couple of hours to uncover more than 10,000 reviews from unverified purchasers on just 24 pairs of headphones - an easy-to-find red flag that highlights the scale of Amazon's problem with fake reviews", according to a statement from Which?

The investigation reveals popular tech products from "unknown brands" may be bolstered with fake reviews, due to the cumulative existence of "tens of thousands" of positive, unverified reviews.

Amazon said it uses a combination of teams of investigators and automated technology to detect fake reviews.

In an emailed message to Prolific London, Amazon said it invests significant resources in order to protect the integrity of reviews.

Which? found one set of headphones, by the brand Celebrat, had 439 unverified reviews, all of which were five-star and arrived on the same day.

When it searched for headphones, it found all the products on the first page of results were from unknown brands - which it defines as ones its experts have never heard of - rather than known brands, which it defines as household names.

They also found 71% of products on the first page had a ideal five-star customer review score - and the majority of these reviews were unverified.

Seventy-one per cent of the headphones had ideal five-star ratings, while some included reviews for unrelated products such as soap dispensers.

Amazon is inundated with tens of thousands of "potentially fake" five-star product reviews, a United Kingdom consumer group claims.

Which? says glowing reviews from unverified buyers are a "telltale sign of "fake" reviews", and said its findings showed they had become a "serious problem" in online shopping.

- It is important to check the dates of the posted reviews.

- All of the fake reviews will be unverified.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: "Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews - with shoppers bombarded by dubious comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands".

The study urged customers to be proactive and take reviews with a pinch of salt and verify with trustworthy sources before making a purchase decision. The retailer added that it has "clear participation guidelines" regarding reviews and suspends, bans, or takes legal action on violators.

"Amazon must do more to purge its websites of unreliable and fake reviews if it is to maintain the trust of its millions of customers".

The popularity of online review sites mean they are increasingly relied on by both businesses and their customers, with the government's Competition and Markets Authority estimating such reviews potentially influence £23bn of United Kingdom customer spending every year.

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