1. I got bluetooth headphones on amazon (~$65). They had great reviews, but were very disappointing. I returned them and gave 2 star review. Representative from the manufacturer contacted me and offered me a pair for free. After I got them, they asked for positive review. I refused. That manipulation technique wasn't enough for them though. They might have merged the listing with some other item. Even though the item was released this year, it has reviews from 2014.
2. When I need a cable or something similar, I go to a page like vipon.com . They offer huge discounts on some items on amazon (sometimes even -80%). They of course "suggest" leaving a review.
The more I look at reviews, the less I trust them. I see similar patterns for most products on amazon.
Oddly enough, the same product listing on the US site is rated as A (the above is for the Canadian site):
Just did a quick check again, the Canadian instant pot reviews are now rated as F while the US ones are rated as A. Same product, both ship and sold by Amazon, the algorithm returns polar opposite result.
If it's an arms race for reviews, at some point, even good products will have to pay up to keep pace.
Now it is possible that Amazon actually does a good job of stopping fake negative advertisement on its site. Good for them. What would stop them? I don't think there are any laws against putting more money into stopping fraud which does not benefit you than fraud which does.
Amazon has an incentive in showing positive reviews first, as this makes a sale.
Look at an Amazon listing and the 5 star review is always shown first.
They have been risking it by their issues with counterfeit products and fake reviews only in the most recent years, but I would be surprised if they had no engineers who are thinking about ways to solve these problems.
Almost all of their products have 500-600 reviews and all are 5 star, not even a single one is less than 5 stars. Moreover, most of reviews are created in November 2017 and each reviewer has left couple of 5-star reviews only for same seller's product within a week.
These fake reviews could have been detected by even a basic detection system. Not sure why Amazon has not already detected and removed them.
I simply can't fathom why Western companies aren't freaking out abut this.
Fake reviews have been an easy exploit for sellers for a long time, and sellers will often buy from competitors just to leave verified bad reviews. It's an ugly game I don't have an answer to.
Amazon recently introduced Vine: https://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help
Amazon's shipping schedule is really bad because they hold your items hostage unless you pay for Prime. It's essentially blackmail to get your item in a reasonable time frame.
As a non-Prime subscriber it usually takes 7-10 days to get an item if you use their free shipping or 5-7 days if you use the cheapest paid shipping option.
The funny thing is, in those non-Prime free shipping cases, the item is usually processed / shipped after 7-8 days and then arrives in 2-3 days.
While it's a good program, there are millions of items, unlikely to have them all covered by Vine users. They would have to extend the program greatly for this to be an effective counter.
If you want closed back (recommended for office listening - keeps noise in an out) get AKG k550/k553 (negligibly different editions of the same thing)
If you want open back (scary accurate but bleeds sound like crazy) get a pair of Grados, the lower end ones like the 65 will do fine. I say this with love, but those headphones ruined some records for me. You can tell where they cut vocal takes on major label records because the noise floor drops. Crazy stuff.
No they can't. Loudspeakers (of all kinds) can either faithfully convert electrical signals into the vibrations they represent, or they can't. Equalizer presets can be better / worse for certain listening habits. There is no reason, when even a $5 MP3 player has EQ presets, that headphones shouldn't be aiming for a flat frequency-response curve.
Now, admittedly, there might be some preference axis between being able to faithfully replicate high amplitude signals, vs. having low impedance and therefore being kinder to the batteries of portable devices (and/or not requiring an extra in-line portable headphone amp.) But other than that one distinction, headphones can really only be "better" or "worse" at doing their one job.
Harman has done some really interesting research on this - https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/headphone-target-respo...
That is: in most digital artistic media, the goal of the reproduction process is to faithfully carry across the art (and engineering) that "went in" on the other side. Listeners can tweak to their preference from there, but the baseline should be to replicate the work as the artist experiences it, rather than as the artist expects their audience to experience it. (An analogy: the "default", pre-choice-of-audience way to reproduce a painting shouldn't involve a frame and gallery wall, but rather should involve the painting standing alone as a canvas on an easel in a room in the same lighting conditions it was painted in.)
I can't agree with this. I don't think it's right at all. Art is targeted at a broad band of senses, from aesthetic through sensory to emotional. You're hung up on the narrow band of sensory reproduction, but that isn't what's most important to actual humans.
Take an example: some electro house track that person A might have heard on a night out, where they had a really good time. They would have heard it in the middle of a crowd (dampening a significant chunk of the sound), probably overly loud, probably with the bass pumped up.
If person A later listens to that track on studio headphones focused on faithfully carrying across engineering and "art", they'll be hearing the mechanics of the music and how it was constructed, but it will be subjectively a poorer reproduction of the remembered moment and experience. They'd actually be better off listening on much lower quality headphones that had boosted bass and muddy reproduction that let different frequencies intermingle, to make sure it doesn't sound spare and separated out like high quality headphones tend to.
Another example: person B might have been to a symphony or opera. They'll have a much happier time with high quality headphones separating out each instrument, appreciating the individuals even as they form the symphony.
An analogy: the "default", pre-choice-of-audience way to reproduce a painting shouldn't involve a frame and gallery wall, but rather should involve the painting standing alone as a canvas on an easel in a room in the same lighting conditions it was painted in
I think you're nuts! There's multiple frames to view a piece of visual art; from the artist's perspective, they may have designed the piece for a specific location, so you're better off if it's shown that way. It may have been designed to be contextualized (e.g. in a triptych, or as ironic contrast with its original commission). But the passage of time also contextualizes art; art can become meaningful not for its intrinsic artistry or aesthetic, but because of the narrative around the piece, or the artist, or the city / country at the time. A piece of art might be interesting only because e.g. it was once stolen by a very interesting person and got into the news that way; it might not have anything to do with the artifact as a thing-in-itself.
And I hasten to add that that doesn't mean it's bad art. Art is about provoking broad band reaction in the viewer. In order to do that, it needs to trigger the viewer's pattern matching neurobiology relating to different aspects of their lived experience. That's inherently contextual, both on the subject side and on the object side. There's no escaping context.
Sure there is. The market might prefer a baked-in EQ preset. In fact, different subsets of the market may prefer different presets. And that brings it back to the grandparent's point. The customer is always right; even when they're technically wrong, their preferences are what count.
To be fair, I don't use an external DAC or source high quality sound on the road.
But for $10 and tolerable, good enough for travel.
Cheap but surprisingly good end:
Superlux HD668B (20-40$, as they got popular you may need to watch out for counterfeits). IMHO they are on par with some popular 200$ - 300$ Beyerdynamic / Sennheiser / AKG models. You may want to follow one of the online guides to replace the ear cup plastic with velour.
Fakespot: A (90%)
Expensive end: AudioQuest Nighthawk, 1st model. Their sound is unique and "purist audiophiles" may not like it, but they work pretty well with my listening habits; the experience has been pure joy so far and they are very comfortable.
Listening habits: Metal (symphonic-, power-, progressive-, i.e. complex and with classical music elements; e.g. Blind Guardian) and some Depeche Mode
I don't even bother with any other earbuds.
Click on first reviewer's name, and that reviewer has just happened to review 5 items all on the same day, and those are the only 5 items they have ever reviewed. And all 5 items are completely random (electronics, bed linen, garden equipment, clothing, etc). Rinse and repeat with second, third, fourth reviewer and a similar pattern arises.
Majority of recently listed electronic items that I've been looking to purchase follow the same pattern.
EDIT: Here's the fake review analysis for the headphones: https://www.fakespot.com/product/bluedio-f2-faith-active-noi...
Sorry to be a bit of an asshole.
Do not buy Chinese crap. It's a lottery.
My Sennheisers (made of plastic BTW) have been in use since 2014. My previous Sennheisers broke (just the headband) after a couple of years.
Bought $30 Taiwanese headphones, good Amazon reviews, but the headband is too small. And the microphonics is terrible. Sigh.
Recently bought boots, Made in China. Size is about 1.5 units off.
For a certain class of goods and for reasonable price points, you do get what you pay for.
Say you want bookshelf speakers. Going with the budget pick I might get Pioneer SP-BS22-LRs, but they're around 4500RMB here in China. Other reputable brands come in around 10000RMB, which is so far outside my budget its not even funny. But most of these speakers are made in China anyways, so you start sleuthing. K, i find a post on an Audiophile forum that tells me that HiVi(/Swan) makes the drivers for most upscale Audio equipment. Let's check what HiVi has. Ahh, they've got a bloody gorgeous pair of speakers for 1699RMB, and a passable one for 699RMB, and an official Taobao store. And they'll do.
Boots I would not buy from China, in China, you can return them and test.
For budget headphones, Senneheiser is what I get in Germany, Tascam if you're in the US, JVC for Asia. Don't know any Chinese brands of note there.
For smartphones Xiaomi is blowing it out of the water right now. Their Redmi（红米） line is incredible value. Then there's Huawei, Meizu, OPPO, Honor, and whatever Hammer(Chuizi) is.
Most of the problematic products as they relate to reviews on Amazon are Chinese products. When I used to do incentivized reviews, all but one single company who approached me for a product review (this does not include eBook authors) was not Chinese.
>> For a certain class of goods and for reasonable price points, you do get what you pay for.
This is 100% true, but I find a lot of Chinese products punched above their weight. During my time reviewing, I turned down the cheap sketchy products and focused mainly on stuff that I wanted that looked like they were well made. And you know what, a lot of the products I got were actually fantastic relative to their selling price.
BTW I actually ended up buying Sennheiser headphones after I returned the crappy ones.
The Sennheisers branded ear pads or Brainwavz (IIRC) ear pads are a bit expensive ($20+).
You can get generic "memory" foam ones on AliExpress for $4.
It's not actually memory foam and they might send you the wrong type, and it's a tight fit (just remember to breathe !?) but they work.
Let me guess, HD280 Pro? It seems they've fixed that for HD380s.
I got angry, took my drill, a piece of metal, couple of screws and connected the whole thing Mad Max style. Yes, they were quite uncomfortable.
And you couldn't really wear them in public too.
And yes hd380s seem to have longer lasting headband than the hd280s.
They haven't all been the best sounding, or even the best value, but they've all had decent sound quality. Some of them have had exceptional sound quality.
(Darn, had to create an account to post this comment)
I wish sites like Amazon had a feature such as “people who buy similar quality items to you, also bought this...”
For a headphone geek such as myself it is ;)
Our analysis detected
low quality reviews
Incidentally, I started a deals & promos list of accounts on Twitter that provide the latest sales on a variety of sites. Feel free to check it out. I have no affiliation with any of the companies listed (Well, I have an Amazon associates account - but it wouldn't benefit me here, since it's other accounts posting their affiliate links)
I find @kinjadeals to have a lot of good deals, but unless it's name brand stuff, it often breaks or wears down after a few months.
Check out Deals and Discounts by @pogue25: https://twitter.com/pogue25/lists/deals-and-discounts?s=09
I resorted to buy only Amazon Basic cables for the PC/monitor/TV and Anker cables/charger for the mobile phones. It is not the cheapest option but you still get high quality for a low price and you don't have to deal with any shady shops.
I bought that 3 years ago. I think mine is doing okay but you can tell from the reviews that it wasn't a quality cable. I doubt Amazon has really up'd their game since then.
All my effort was for nothing. The vendor just delisted that item and re-listed it again, so no one would even read my review unless they bothered to read reviews for a delisted product.
I guess I could have re-posted my review in the new listing, but it was too much trouble, so I never bothered to do so.
So they were "very disappointing", but not "very disappointing" enough to refuse a free pair, at their expense?
> That manipulation technique
Perhaps, since you were happy to accept the headphones, they believed your original negative review was not sincere, but itself a manipulation technique to get a freebie or special offer in return for a more positive review. (Which I suspect is not unheard-of for some buyers on Amazon.)
To be clear: Although I don't know you I don't believe that is what you did (most people don't do that), what I mean is the company may be used to some people trying that kind of thing, and accepting the product for free may be a hint that you're willing to do what they asked.
However, what kind of "positive review" did they want? A review where you pretend not to be disappointed, or simply an update to your review stating something like: "while I don't believe these are worth $65, and returned them, I can't fault the customer service in trying to make up for my disappointment"?
Because I don't see anything at all wrong with the latter; and it's certainly more reasonable than leaving a negative review of a product which you were happy to accept at the 'right price'.
Why should anyone take part in this?
If a company decides to give away free items, and gets nothing in reply that's their problem... I am happy when people do not sell their kidney for pennies: and as a single costumer you usually don't have the power to fight back large corporations: then sometimes the most convenient reaction is to keep both the free gifts and your kidney ;) And if many people do this, it may eventually get them out from business, win-win
edit: Thinking over, I partly agree with the previous comment. If they expect you to update your review, honesty may be the most ethical, so e.g. one can start it with: "They have sent me a free item after I returned mine and gave them a 2 star review..." ;)
> Why should anyone take part in this?
Where did I say buying positive reviews was an ethical marketing strategy or that people should take part in it? I don't think that and I didn't say anything even remotely like it in the post you're replying to.
They said that the pair I got and returned was defective and "want to make things right" by sending me another, free pair.
F rating on fakespot, and 1500 visibly fake 5-star reviews. Innocent customers have already started falling in trap and you can notice that from recently created 1 star reviews. How many customers will be burned before the overall rating will go down due to real reviews?
Paid reviews from professionals are more dangerous. I just have to hope the companies' greed prevents them from paying enough for a good review.
I used to love Amazon but now when I look for something I dread to do so on Amazon because I don't feel I can trust anything there.
"I'm buying from a reputable company, so I can trust that the seller is accurately representing the item."
"I thought I was buying from an established company, but instead I'm buying from a questionable person that is using Amazon as a level of obfuscation. They are probably hiding something, so I don't trust them."
"I'm buying from a random person that I don't trust and may be misrepresenting the item, but it looks like they've described all the problems and got the same use from the item as I would like to get, so I'm comfortable with taking a chance."
"I thought I was buying from a random person, but instead I'm buying from a questionable company that is using Ebay as a level of obfuscation. They are probably hiding something, so I don't trust them."
It's if course never gonna happen. It's too convenient for Amazon and most users probably don't even understand that they aren't buying from Amazon.
Recently Amazon made it much harder to select sellers.
Now on some products, the page is so confusing that you don't know is it "Fullfilled by Amazon" or you are buying from someone in China.
Race to the bottom and all...
Recently I got them to refund me after showing I returned the defective item (tracking number + signed by an employee) the SAME day it was returned to the seller's location. Granted, the seller and I had a dispute (which was that the seller refused to acknowledge the device spit out a fair amount of magic smoke when powering a small charger).
Again, it's effort in and effort out. If you buy something off Amazon, make sure it's being shipped to you by Amazon!
- Pick a category
- Select "Amazon.com" as the seller
edit: That wasn't clear. Try two: Inventory submitted by FBA vendors is commingled with Amazon inventory in Amazon's warehouses. When you, a sucker, buys it, you have zero control over whether the widget you get was purchased by Amazon from the manufacturer or sent to Amazon by Billy Bob's Sellin' Totally Not Fake Shit Shack, which definitely got it from the manufacturer, not the bottom price on Alibaba. This is true even if you buy from Amazon and not an FBA vendor.
You can fairly consistently filter by Prime/non-Prime, but that's not the same (that filters down to things fulfilled by Amazon, but not just sold by Amazon).
Out of curiosity, why do you assume people don't realize they aren't buying from Amazon?
(Can't remember, but do the parcels come in Amazon packaging too?)
Because Amazon tells them when they're looking at the item that it's sold by a third party? And then again when they're checking out. And the items sold by third parties include an invoice and receipt from the third party? It's not a difficult technical issue - it only requires basic reading comprehension, which I'd expect most people using Amazon to posses.
Obviously everybody commenting here has figured out what's going on, and most people I've talked to about it (technical and non-technical) have also figured it out, so I just can't see it as Amazon tricking everybody.
My assumption is that most people buying from Amazon do know about and understand third party sellers, but aren't bothered by them enough to do anything.
This is your problem. Most people don't have basic reading comprehension when they're using computers, even less so when they're not expecting to be scammed. This is well known in UI and IT support circles. They don't notice details, they don't read the error messages, they don't read the fine print. On Amazon, they just want to get their thing and move on.
Even if some people understood "some inventory comes from different places," the vast majority of retail operations vet their sources and have quality control. So it's easy to understand why people would assume it's not different from Target selling inventory provided by multiple distributors.
I don't like being used as an arbitrage opportunity. I think that if unaddressed it could harm Amazon in the long run.
Validating authentic and genuine reviews is still a very much under-developed solution, still relying on an equally weighted consensus when it's overwhelmingly skewed to positive bias (fake reviews up the average rating).
I now read the bad reviews very carefully. they are often always sandwiched or quickly buried by broken english reviews.
I can't remember how many times I bought a 4.8 star item and realized it was from Alibaba with just a different logo. I definitely won't be needing Amazon Prime anymore.......
but where else will I take out my shopping binge desires?
Generally on Alibaba, you have to know what a "reasonable" price is and expect that "acceptable" means you may have to order something 3 different times. I seem to have a miss rate of about 20-30%--so most of the time I get what I want, but very occasionally I get a bad roll of the dice and have to order 3 times.
I was buying something that's currently out of stock most places.
I looked on Amazon, saw some "3rd party" sellers that said they would have it on stock various dates about 1 week in the future, and I didn't believe them.
Some sellers had hundreds of positive reviews, others had only a few, most were an "appropriate" price (not to high or low), and all of them had the prime designation, but I still didn't believe them.
Amazon has lost my trust here, completely. And I don't know if they will be able to get it back. I just can't trust that they will get me what I bought in a reasonable time frame.
I got it from a previous years unheard of (by me) retailer online. Reviews of the company elsewhere on the internet seemed trustworthy, and I took a leap on them, and it paid off.
I trusted an unknown website more than I trusted Amazon.
They're planning to drop ship it when you order it. Only then will they realize it's out of stock (or they'll wait weeks for it from China).
A number of times I've had a reseller dropship from walmart.com or target.com for a few dollars of arbitrage.
I just checked the item, still sold with solid 4.5 stars and occasional 1star reviews with pictures documenting that they also got a fake one.
Most people leaving reviews only leave reviews for things they absolutely love, so saying that it's "suspiciously positive" is not an indicator of it being fake.
In her case, she knows these people personally and they're not fake scripts. Yet FakeSpot, who OP holds up as doing the great job that Amazon is not, is completely wrong.
tldr; spotting fake reviews is harder than it seems apparently.
EDIT: the other thing is that she has lost quite a bit of legitimate reviews from Amazon deleting them. Amazon is actually doing more than the end user sees about this problem.
EDIT 2: Another thing Amazon completely ignores are reviewers who get an early copy of the product in exchange for an honest review. This is how a lot of people kickstart reviews on their products and Amazon completely ignores that valid use case. In fact, they hurt it because they don't mark those reviews as "Verified Purchase" since the reviewer got the product outside of the Amazon channels. They need to come up with a system for this.
So your wife has people she knows leave positive reviews in order to bump her book's review score and you're upset that Fakespot gave it an F due to them being non-organic reviews?
As a consumer it sounds like Fakespot is doing a great job, and exactly what it states on the tin. What your wife is doing is at best dishonest and I'm glad they're exposed as sham reviews. Hopefully these people are putting a disclaimer in the reviews stating the conflict but I highly doubt it.
> Yet FakeSpot, who OP holds up as doing the great job that Amazon is not, is completely wrong.
Except according to your own anecdote they were completely right?
So, when an author who's been writing a serial on a discussion board finishes and publishes it, there's a preexisting community of folks who have been reading it all along and are likely to purchase it.
With numbers like that, it's not hard to believe that a little-known author may only sell a few thousand copies, many of them to dedicated followers.
She comes to get to know her best fans after they become fans. They leave honest reviews on their own accord.
This is NOT her asking for random friends and family to leave a positive review. I wasn't clear before.
Those would be the loyal readers who go to authors' websites looking for news and new releases.
A little bit of moderated moral pushback has its place, but I think the main solution at societal-scale must be structural.
They say that everyone is a hero in their own story, and I think that applies here, you have good personal motivations (help a friend/spouse/family, etc) but ultimately what you're doing is no different from the consumer's perspective than the people that do this stuff professionally. It is just as immoral/misleading/dishonest.
They get upset with a service (Fakespot) which points out the bad behavior because it contrasts with their moral motivations for doing so. I think they need to re-examine right and wrong in this situation, Fakespot may not be the bad guy here.
They're positive because the headphones are utterly fantastic. They beat the crap out of the better-reviewed (on Amazon) Bose version. Which Fakespot gives a better grade to.
Not necessarily. See my comment sibling to GP.
They said "she knows these people personally" and I mirrored it as "so your wife has people she knows," so what does "not necessarily" refer to here exactly?
Fakespot was being criticized above because the person claims they misjudged his wife's book reviews while also revealing that his wife was conducting the very behavior Fakespot is designed to detect. Whether the biased reviewers volunteer or were asked is completely besides the point.
Look at it from a consumer's point of view, volunteer, paid, or asked the result is the same. The reviews are at best biased and may even be fake (depending on if they actually read the book, and would have given it less than five stars under any circumstances).
The other sense is one of a natural human (but honest) response of friends excited by the celebrity status of one of their own.
I agree fully with your comment on the consumer's point of view, though. As a consumer that point's not lost on me.
She comes to get to know her best fans. They leave honest reviews on their own accord.
Still, their opinions aren't trustworthy to me, given they are written by people close to the author. So I could actually agree with FakeSpot on this.
I totally understand where you're coming from on this, but, you're 100% wrong here. Fakespot is looking for unbiased reviews and friend-reviews are not unbiased, what do you think the odds are that one of your wife's friends was going to leave a negative review?
OTOH, she got hosed on Goodreads by someone who admitted to not reading the book, and several people came along and validated the hosing (like a voting circle or something). This is a pretty difficult problem.
Hmm, I think it is quite the opposite, I'm more inclined to leave a review (warn people) when I don't like something.
Or maybe it is a cultural thing (I'm from Europe).
Tracking the product back to it's actual origin of manufacturer (and showing us the consumer).
Where, exactly, was the factory? The lot number and date of manufacturer? Official model and revision number?
Requiring these things will give buyers better hard data to detect and exclude middle-level-marking shenanigans as well as combat 'bait and switch' (even if not intentional) changes to product configurations sold under the same general marketing moniker.
I too would love to know exactly where and who made it, how many middle-men have stepped in with their own markup to finally Amazon.
Because it's clear that Amazon doesn't give two shit about who and what gets sold, they just care about volume. Fixing reviews is not part of that strategy.
Most major brands never even touch their products. They design them and have them built by contract manufacturers. They then get sent through distributors, shippers, brokers, etc. Each of which has terribly old systems which may or may not track each individual item.
Most links in this chain are also disinterested in any third party knowing what and how many products they move, including and especially the brand itself.
Counterfeits would be one thing to go after. Lying to customers would be another.
After a while 'dodgy factories' and/or sellers that lie more often than not would be able to be sorted out and removed from listings. More importantly factories and sellers could build actual solid reputations for telling the truth.
Most importantly, it would make middle-level-marketing stuff much more obvious.
Because if sucsessful, it would be a huge competitive advantage. And they do already have 34 private labels in varied areas, but i think they are still in the learning phase.
>> Where, exactly, was the factory? The lot number and date of manufacturer? Official model and revision number?
Check out Amazon Transparency:
This is not strictly true, you can still have your orders shipped "prime" but not commingle.
I'm also concerned about counterfeit products - I don't care as much about reviews because I'll usually have researched beforehand or already know what I want. However with brand name items, I always wonder if it's the real thing and as a result have stopped buying shoes, etc from Amazon. I also don't buy anything from Amazon that goes in my body or on my body (supplements, cosmetics/hygiene, etc). I stick with brick & mortar or the online storefront.
It's unfortunate, because Amazon is fantastic as a concept, unfortunately my trust in them does not extend to most items. I'd rather pay more and be confident in the product. I think whatever they are doing is working for them and they have no incentive to change because the vast majority of customers are not so discerning.
Once upon a time, I bought two boxes of Ener-G. It was only later I found out I have paid 100% markup on those boxes. I felt stupid that I hadn't verified the prices on the manufacturer's site.
They'll scrape products from X and list them on Y for cost+markup then drop ship. Even if they use thin margins coupon codes and promotions from a customer rewards program do a lot of offset the occasional return that you can't pass up the line or order that happens after a price hike but before your scraping software can catch up.
If you have a discount you can use that to undercut your competition and appear high up when people sort by price. You get a X% coupon code for some product from Y then scrape Y's online store and relist it on Z for retail less X plus your margin and costs. Fraudulently purchased gift cards can also be monetized through web scraping and drop shipping.
When the cost difference is negligible I prefer to buy from drop shippers rather than have my payment info and PII sitting around in yet another database waiting to be stolen.
Was this from a 3rd party seller? I have seen a lot of 3rd party sellers have listings for pretty outrageous prices. I think they're either trying to catch people who don't shop around / don't know what the product is worth, or they are just not managing their pricing well. On a lot of popular products you can see an example of the latter where Amazon themselves will be selling a product for a given price, and then if you look at other offers you'll see the same thing being sold by other sellers for double or triple Amazon's price.
During Christmas shopping, I’ve seen more than a few folks buying stuff at Toys R Us to sell on Amazon.
December is also a great time for coupons and sales from traditional retailers (you can still order online) so you're doubly getting hosed.
They need to get a handle on their supply chain and stop outsourcing so much of their product listings to shady third party sellers. Shady third party sellers go hand-in-hand with fake reviews. Most reputable brands don't want to get their hands dirty with that stuff. It's guys making margin on reselling that have all the skin in the game and most of the incentive to manipulate the system.
I've never gotten a fake from any brick and mortar or online merchant that sells direct. Only places I've gotten fakes and been duped by rampant fake reviews are eBay and Amazon. Once a competitor gets their shit together (I'm betting on Walmart) and has an equally convenient online store, Amazon will be the Myspace of online sales.
People have loyatly to brands but not the company that sells them. If something better comes along I'll switch immediately just like I did years ago with ebay
This might be brick & mortar's last laugh. How do you protect against fake merchandise? Don't worry about it, customers simply won't buy the obviously incorrect items, and you can identify and deal with them when you take inventory.
Amazon and Yelp and the like may be better or worse at stemming the tide of fakery, but asking them to be better isn't going to fundamentally help. The whole idea is broken.
If you know how PageRank works, how it was gamed by blackhat SEO's until Google was forced to fix it, and what Google did to fix it, then you already know how to fix product reviews. You just need to recognize that reviews are links, in the sense that a link counts as a vote of "authoritativeness." Since we also have negative reviews we can easily implement TrustRank (or an Amazony version of it) and quickly identify bad "domains" (products or vendors).
I think it could be implemented poorly in a weekend or two with full access to the complete set of review and product data.
Currently you have a bevvy of brands for China sourced goods. The brands are obviously made up without much thought. Something like "Scarvast" trekking pole. "Vargus" flashlights, "Zukil" wireless speakers. "Brikor" dehumidifiers.
And often times the same seller will have multiple "brands". This is what makes it unreliable and untrustworthy. It's like they live A/B test products on AMZ.
A trusted source of reviews has proved itself successful with the USB-C cable example and Benson from Google verifying all of them
Often they are just Chinese-speaking American entrepreneurs. The problem is the lack of IP protection in China. And lack of any interest in branding and brand differentiation, hence you got "brands" that sounds like they were picked via /dev/rand. And of course everything is probably manufactured in the same 3 or 4 factories.
Lev Andropov: It's stuck, yes?
Watts: Back off! You don't know the components!
Lev Andropov: [annoyed] Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!!!
Infact one of the reviewers did a detail comparison between the fake product and the real QC-35.
Granted - that concept is very complicated for typical amazon shopper and that's how you end up with bunch of "fake" 1-star reviews under brand-names products...
Maybe Amazon can have some AI algorithm, that is for any newly arrived products with non-sales yet, monitoring the activities on them closely,the fake purchase and review must have some common pattern(same address, same ID, same IP,etc).
But then, why does Amazon want to do that? it will decrease its own profit.
So yes, customers will be the one got screwed up no matter what.
But then, why does Amazon want to do that? it will decrease its own profit.
It's not in the interests of Amazon to be on a crusade against fake reviews. Mass fake reviews are the driving force of revenues.
AMZN will always maintain the balance between public outcry and absolute minimal effort to show that they're doing something against spammers.
From my side I maintain the right to buy the product and then write "not as described" as a reason for free return for full refund with free pickup.
Quite often vendor/seller will give you refund without requiring you to return merchandise.
I don't feel like I been abused too much by fake reviews as long as I can "abuse back" with my free return.
Reviews affect which purchase.
The incentive that matters is the sentiment or belief you should go to amazon.com in the first place. That’s what’s at risk.
I thought Millennials had become desensitized to all 5 star over the top, big flashy sounding reviews so a service that carefully curates reviews for top items seemed like a decent idea. Sprinkle a few 1 star reviews for the wrong item sent or a fault of Amazon, a few 4 stars raving about the product but complaining about some minor aspect irrelevant to the average buyer to make it sound authentic. Many people compare a few products and when they make a purchase, they do so feeling really proud of themselves that they picked the perfect product for the best price. The "it's too good to be true" doesn't really seem to work anymore. This honestly seems to be the case for every Amazon product these days. We'll probabzky get desensitized to this soon too and something else will come up.
That said, fake products are ridiculous and there are a few sites I've bookmarked that do a pretty decent job of spotting a fake product and I do admit it's becoming harder to differentiate lately but the too good to be true adage still stands.
I just checked them on fakespot and they were both rated at 98% fake reviews. This is pretty confidence shattering for me; how do I pay $80 a year for prime if amazon is in cahoots with such obvious scams...
"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
They also get to avoid being called a monopoly by selling products of various qualities and from various sellers.
What's even worse then fake reviews is fake bad reviews where competitors give your products a low rating. If your first review ends up bad you are screwed, unless you get 100 good reviews to compensate.
Crazily enough, after my review appeared, two days later this book had over TWELVE glowing reviews, all of them Five-stars
Honestly, I think what we need is a Consumer Report reboot. I signed up for a subscription recently, and was very disappointed with their service, although I still like idea behind it.
I'm often overwhelmed by the huge number of options, and it can be incredibly challenging to narrow the number down, even for everyday purchases. Heck, sometimes you have two options and no easy way of differentiating between em, like with generic vs brand over-the-counter medicine. Unfortunately, now-a-days trying to do any kind of research is most likely to pull up fake or questionable info from paid shills. I wonder how feasible it would be to create a decentralized chain of trust for product and service reviews.
On researching, yeah it's honestly a chore everytime because so much disinformation/misinformation.
I'm not sure what decentralization would look like or even make sense. It seems like you just need some central guy like CR to vet and test out all the products. I go to Youtube for that tho.
Their site has TONS of tracking and marketing scripts, which I consider anti-user. Furthermore, if you block or disable any, the site breaks. For a service claiming to be pro-user they seem to be engaging in a lot of dark patterns.
Aside from that, I found their reviews lacking in detail. For many categories they have dozens of options marked as recommended, with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but no explanation of why one might prefer certain models. I subscribed because I wanted help narrowing down my options.
I wouldn't suggest subscribing for more than a single month. They have some useful information, but not enough to justify a long-term subscription.
And if it was successful in helping you make informed consumer decisions, would it be something you'd come back for again and again?
Lately, I'm super passionate and vocal about protecting consumers rights. I've been disenfranchised and powerless to act against shady business practices. I've been threatened for leaving negative reviews on purchases. Lawyers only go after high profile high payout cases. Local media seems to be in bed with corporate sponsors.
For example, let's say that each product is shipped with a unique review_id and that review_id is tied to the product. When posting reviews about said product, you need to provide a picture of the card that contains the review_id. This would need to be verified server-side before the review is accepted.
IMO this would make it too difficult for vendors to buy fake reviews at volume, since each fake review now must go through the extra step of taking a picture of the review_id card and uploading it along with the review. Since that step would take place in the analog world it would defeat most automated review posting methods.
I would rather not buy it than take the risk of getting ripped off buy a fake review.
Some things are worth the money but not the time.
I don't know anything about them, I'm not familiar with manufacturers, but this search result brings up very similar items from "different" companies. What's even more suspicious is that there are MULTIPLE results that have 1-2 thousand reviews and are at a perfect 5*.
Source: I used to do incentivized reviews but stopped after the rule changes. I still get asked to do the Paypal workaround.
In fact, the old system was better. At least the incentivized review disclosures let you know to take a review with a grain of salt. Now, it's even shadier.
A. Fake reviews, see above
B. Fake products 
C. A growing organization, which will be slower and less like on “day 1” 
So far, all of this has not affected their top line, but maybe will change soon.
Most honest reviews are never 100% positive.
Amazon allows anyone to post a review. You don't even have to buy the product. That is fundamentally wrong.
That's the first easy step: If you did not buy the product on Amazon you cannot post a review.
Amazon allows people who receive deep discounts to post reviews. That is ripe for manipulation.
And so, the second filter is simple: If someone doesn't pay at least N%, say 50%, for a product they don't get to post a review.
Amazon allows people to post a review at any time, even before the product ships. You can post a review for toothpaste before you actually use it.
The third filter would include a variable purchase-to-review period. The length of this period is different depending on the type of product. Maybe someone who buys a USB cable can post a review a couple of weeks after actually receiving it --but not sooner. Someone buying weight loss pills might need to wait 60 days.
In other words, introduce some common sense into a process that would only allow actual retail buyers of a product to experience the product for a reasonable amount of time before allowing them to post a review, positive or negative.
It goes beyond that. Negative reviews need to be routed to the vendor before they appear publicly on Amazon. Why? Amazon needs to give vendors a first shot at solving the problem. The current system is moronic. People can give a USB cable a bad review because they don't like the color. The thing might work just fine but the person wanted a different shade of green and can give the product a 1 star review. This is nonsense.
In general terms, Amazon reviews, due to Amazon's own incompetence, are pretty much worthless these days.
1. search shit up the internet. this could be any random stuff. electronics to politics to plain BS.
2. start a thread by logging into one of the board accounts by literally copy pasting the stuff they chose to select based on some criteria.
3. reply the question from different accounts(all taken from a pool), usually more copy pasted shit.
4. copy-paste all that into some document and submit it as a worklog to the management.
i think the source of income was advertisement(what else could support such a thing?). what i found fascinating was that this cottage industry somehow managed to pay middle-class salaries to about 20 odd employees in a place like suburban mumbai by siphoning money from a burgeoning advertising industry and doing nothing of any value whatsoever.
i guess this is what Friedman really meant by a free market. stupidity begets stupidity!
the point being, it's become really difficult to figure what's of value in this weird weird world!
Imagine, what happens if Amazon does incorporate a stricter review guideline and lot of the reviews get tossed. It will be Youtube demonistation debate all over again.
One issue with detecting fakes with identical phrases is that many real reviewers will take phrases from the product description or from other peoples' reviews either consciously or unconsciously.
This also matches up with a common bribed review technique of giving people canned phrases to repeat in their reviews or hundreds of prewritten reviews to be distributed out to people who are part of the review program.
Top reviewers are also not a good brake on this process because the best way for them to profit from their reviews is to take bribes. Just going after people who only leave positive reviews also doesn't really work because smart reviewers salt their reviews with the occasional negative one (generally for people who aren't bribing them).
User generated reviews emerged because many surveys across many different product categories have shown that shoppers tend to trust peer reviews more than they trust expert reviews. Part of this is because so many expert reviews have been corrupted to an even greater degree, with PR departments basically being bribery and party-throwing departments whose jobs are to manipulate journalists and place articles in supposedly unbiased publications.
The issue from the seller side is that shoppers are absurd perfectionists. A product can go from a 4.24 star to a 4.26 star average and have its conversion rate double. The difference between 4 and 4.5 stars is the difference between losses on the product and profits in many competitive categories. Also many people just give 1 star reviews to products when they have minor nitpicks. That'd be fine if that 1 star review didn't tank a product average and suddenly mean the budget that was there for an employee suddenly isn't there anymore.
In real terms the main difference in most categories between the reliably 4.5-5 star product and the 4 star product is that one seller spams harder than the other one. Considering that nice guys finish last in that particular competition, it rapidly becomes a triumph or the worst.
Long-run what will happen is that the reaction against user reviews will be as severe as the reaction against critics has been. Part of this is also just a scale issue: with so many products and brands constantly popping up globally, there isn't enough time and editorial attention available to review everything.
This is exactly the problem with the "consumer protection" racket--companies like Consumer Affairs will curate a negative presentation of your company or product, then call you up offering a $2,500/month subscription which basically allows you to remove old negative reviews and prevent new ones from appearing on their site.
Now it’s almost the opposite. I’m hesitant to trust any reviews on the site and buy goods from other vendors whenever possible.
It’s unfortunate; I hope they can implement some measures to prevent fraudulent reviews.
At the end of the TRASHFUTURE podcast (14 Dec 2017 "The Shed Chronicles ft. Oobah Butler, ca. 36 minutes in http://trashfuturepodcast.podbean.com/feed/ ) people are still calling for what he describes as "frozen dinners with the sort of things that wankers like on them, like microherbs".
for example i've seen quite a few books with a modest handful of reviews have their stars tanked by some terrible bad-faith reviews by people who take an issue with the book that isn't directly about the quality or merit of the content. (this really shows up in political and philosophy areas.)
this isn't the end of the world if i take the time to carefully survey reviews, but i just don't have time to give every book due process. few people really do.
i really wish i had some way to ignore individual reviews as well as everything from a reviewer - 'ignore' meaning that the site discounts their contribution to scoring when rendered for me.
Try using fakespot.com or reviewmeta.com. They're both sites setup to try & check the validity of Amazon comments using different methodology - such as how many times a reviewer has left a review, certain trigger keywords known to be used by bots & how many reviews Amazon has deleted from a review by request of the merchant (yes, Amazon will do this!). This will leave you with a much better sense of whether or not a product has been 'review-bombed' or if the company is up to shady practices.
"This came really fast!" 5 Stars is not a product review, however a merchant would not want to remove it.
"The box was completely damaged and destroyed the product!!" 1 Star - will be removed by request if shipped via FBA.
As with anything for selling on Amazon, they are not exactly consistent with this policy.
1. You can sort the product search page by order number (who many people bought the same product). That alone is a big help to dodge fake products.
2. People are encouraged to make reviews with photos. The seller usually gives you a coupon if you make a review with photo which feels like a grey area (am I being bribed?) but as a potential buyer it helpes me a lot to make my decision.
Do we milk the concept of captchas until they turn into some kind of Turing test? Can we even automate a Turing test in a way that machines can't bypass?
Do we basically ditch the concept of privacy and require some kind of systematic provable identity in most places?
Or do we accept the fact that consensus can be faked by bots and try to mitigate the noise by removing the spam as it appears?
I have had a previous employer use my personal information to manually create and post fake reviews of his own products under my name. Nothing surprises me anymore. I only found out because I received a notification email asking me to confirm my review (which I had not written). Needless to say, I quit.
Verified reviews can be faked and gamed as well, but it is harder, more costly and time consuming.