The number of products impacted must be far over the 1% claimed. There are whole categories that have been ruined by Fake China and kids' toys is probably the worst. Headphones, as mentioned by another commenter here, are another.
This problem is quickly destroying Amazon's credibility with a lot of customers. I went to a Best Buy for the first time in a decade to buy a pair of iPhone headphones, just so I'd be assured a genuine product. I now buy my kids' toys at Target, just so I can be assured that there's a reasonable chance that they aren't crap.
It has totally destroyed their credibility with me personally. I used to be an avid Amazon shopper. It was just too easy. I now actively find stores locally to shop. Does it make a difference to Amazon's bottom line, not in the least. While it might be less convenient, I feel less dirty than supporting Amazon. There are times where local stores do not carry something, and I still have purchase from Amazon but only if I can't find it anywhere else first.
The thing that utterly destroys credibility in my eyes is that fraudulent sellers are able to target name brand listings by offering fakes at a slightly cheaper price than the original manufacturer. There are apparently some mitigations against this but their use must not be widespread among sellers or something because I've been burned by this.
Um, I have some bad news for you.
Toys R Us is NOT "premium". Even back when it existed a few years ago.
Melissa and Doug is "premium" for toddler toys. Spend a little bit more, and you get quality toys that is even a bit fun to use as an adult.
Plenty of those stores around, and their webstore (https://www.melissaanddoug.com) is well featured.
Based on my experience with buying kid's toys... Toys R Us failed to stock good enough quality for me. If I wanted crap toys, Walmart and CVS had plenty. Target's selection of toys is mediocre, but I find a few dolls here and there worthwhile.
A "major" gift is almost-always a Melissa and Doug splurge moment.
I've never trusted Amazon for kids toys either. But Toys R Us was also in a similar boat for me of low-trust low-quality products.
Water toys were mostly all garbage.
1: when I have to buy from Amazon, i.e. none of my other options such as Walmart (90 day returns, fast shipping with no membership), Best Buy, etc. have the item
Nothing better than being assured that the product you receive is genuine and well priced.
I knew nothing about headphones, bought a few based on expert reviews (maximizing quality in my price range), and now I feel confident when trying out "floor models" at my local audio store.
If anyone's interested in the head phone website, I can provide it. Just didn't want to seem like I was shilling a blog. If you search Google "site:reddit.com in ear monitor review blog" you'll find it, and this is a pretty good formula in my experience for researching consumer products that have a high information asymmetry.
Get the hell outta here. Look at literally any product and you'll see a plethora of obviously fake reviews. The worst I've noticed? Check out headphones. 500+ 5 star reviews for cheap Chinese products all over the place. In fact, anything that's around 500 5 star reviews is probably mostly fake reviews.
Sellers play a big part in flagging reviews that violate the guidelines. In fact, I think most of the culling of bad reviews comes from customers and sellers complaining and very little from automation as people here might imagine.
 - https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=...
So if you and your spouse like to keep their own opinions and review separately never connect your accounts in any way.
That of course, makes it a pointless statistic, and hopefully, not something, they seriously tell themselves matters.
I'm sure it sounds great for the press though!
IE you really want to know STH like "What percent of reviews are fake for the first two pages of items in the top 100/1000 categories on amazon"
or something that is weighted towards things people see/look at, not "amazon's entire catalog"
Also you have grey fakes with solicited reviews. I have a few vendors who offer significant discounts in exchange for reviews.
Plus these Chinese companies just rebrand and post new product listings free of the bad reviews, leaving the old ones to die.
Amazon obviously has a huge catalog. There's lots of niche products, where quite honestly, there just isn't enough money for fake reviews.
Not to mention some products like books, where most seem to be real.
The question Amazon isn't answering -- and what I think you're getting at -- is something like for top products in certain products like electronics -- what % are fake?
The answer to that I would wager is >50%.
1. Amazon uses good ML techniques, and they don't work.
2. Amazon is doing something else to detect fraud, and it doesn't work.
3. Amazon is lying about the issue.
A good friend of mine worked on the recommendation engine ML side for AMZN until fairly recently. His review was that it's worse, and more expensive, than having hired people do it by hand.
But the sibling comment is more correct -- all three of these things are currently the case.
I bought some toy for a toddler. Upon receiving it, I realized that the description was misleading; many of the "pieces" they had listed boldly were just cheap plastic pieces of crap that had no useful functionality.
So I returned it, and wrote a 1-star review.
A few weeks later, I got an email from them: they were offering $30 if I took down the review. I ignored the email.
Several weeks later, another email: this time offering $40.
And so on.
Their latest email is offering me $70 to take down the review. I still haven't.
I'd forward the email to Amazon if (a) I knew they'd do something, and, more importantly, (b) I knew WHERE to send it!
Basically, Amazon has no interest in making sure that the reviews are not being gamed. Since the email goes through Amazon servers, they should be able to at least make an attempt at catching such people!
That being said, I had a few reach out and ask me for a review. In one instance I merely indicated that I had to use the product for longer to offer a genuine review, they gave me a line to the founder for concerns. For a cellphone screen protector, that has actually worked beautifully. I honestly don't know where to draw the line between buying reviews and customer service. If I put myself in the shoes of an honest businessperson (as I'd hope to be), I hope I'd deal with customers personally at early stages of the startup. It's hard to be objective with so many miscreants in play.
So, it is in their best interest to create review incentives. Of course, some review incentives are better than others (personal notes telling you how valued a review is and how much they will help with any problems vs. "here's $5, give me some stars").
By the way, care to link the product so I can write a couple 1-star reviews as well? /s
I don't agree. First of all, these fake reviews are bad for Amazon's reputation and thus for their business.
Second, these frauds lead to people returning their items to Amazon. I do not know how Amazon settles this with the original seller but I'd imagine that in the end Amazon will not make any profit on the whole transaction, or even a loss.
I'm not buying on marketplace anymore, except if I can't find the product anywhere else.
If that were the case, then Amazon would provide a way to flag fake reviews. But they don't.
When you're just one of thousands and thousands of vendors on a platform, I guess any trick is considered fair game.
Such as flashlights that looked only vaguely similar to the pictures in the listings, and were blatantly just cheaply-made knockoffs.
Short-term, no. Long-term, it harms their credibility until they're past being the status quo because people go to alternatives which aren't as popular or infested with this crap. In short, this is good for competition.
But the real problem, as I already wrote in another post, is the fact that Amazon isn't held accountable for this. And if that's currently not possible, it should become by law. After all, they're hosting deceiving misinformation and facilitating a platform for sales. Its easy to get away being the middle man but that doesn't mean its fair.
BTW, because of the way Amazon’s FBA service works, even ordering items that are “sold by” a reputable retailer but “fulfilled by Amazon” gets you a high chance of receiving a fake. This is because they mix FBA stock and don’t discriminate what stock it comes from when filling that item, regardless of who the seller is.
Same for most things I’ve wanted to buy recently (hiking poles and a daypack are two other examples from this past weekend).
these days, I check Consumer Reports for a review and usually buy their recommendations. Most of the time, still on Amazon - their delivery is still top notch.
But - not all the time, as there are now viable alternatives that do 2-day delivery well enough. For example, I started ordering some stuff on Walmart.com. A lot of things that are “prime pantry only” on Amazon are available for the same price on Walmart.com, without any restrictions.
There's also local retail. If you don't mind a trip to a store, you can size up the product in person and go home with it the same day. I'm my experience, the prices are often competitive with Amazon, too.
That and the thousands of "very good product!" fake reviews, you will not be able to find a non-plasticy, built-to-last product on Amazon at all.
And the fun will continue when you discover the warranty requires you shipping items to PRC, if it's honored at all.
I'll stick with my ancient one that uses a spring.
Maybe it's different in the USA, but when I needed a bathroom scale for our new apartment I went over to the store and bought the first one they had. If I would have come home and it wouldn't have worked, I'd have gone back and had either gotten repair under warranty or cash back (if they don't want to repair it, you can rescind the purchase). Took maybe 20 minutes. Ordering online would be quicker in terms of buying, but I would have to stay home to receive the package, and if something is wrong, I have to ship it back and get the money back for shipping, plus wait for them shipping a new one... Wouldn't buying from a physical store be easier than looking through hundreds of reviews, both in terms of time as well as in terms of mental effort?
I understand it's just an example and this doesn't apply to everything, but I do hear that in the USA, people order everything from Amazon instead of walking over to the store. I just can't imagine staying home for packages all the time, let alone trying to spot fake reviews for simple things like scales (of any kind), microwaves, etc. They are simple things with simple features (e.g. microwave: power, size, and whether it revolves) that I don't need reviews for. If it doesn't work as expected, also if it breaks after three years of light and correct usage, I'd get warranty (assuming the expectation that a microwave lasts a decade is not wildly off).
I'm not sure why you think people in the USA do that. You certainly don't have to stay home to get package. Nobody does that.
If it's a valuable package, there are ways to make sure it's not stolen, including using an Amazon Locker.
Although I agree I have a certain reluctance to return stuff, because now I need to wrap the package, get it to the post office (which is far away) and pay shipping.
I don't know if Amazon Lockers exist in Germany, but I'm sure they would reimburse your for the shipping cost if you ask.
Honestly I've had zero issues with counterfeits, but then again I don't have any kids yet, so I'm not buying many toys. I also typically pay more for name brands due to quality concerns in general, so that probably insulates me to a degree. I'm not denying people's experiences, but honestly Amazon's reputation is still fine to me. They're a marketplace like any other and they never really marketed themselves as premium. Curation and trust was never part of the deal IMO. I don't trust Walmart or Best Buy either.
In my old neighborhood there was one place to buy bathroom scales , however, they were not sold with warranties and were basically getting what you receive from Amazon at a higher price.
One of the weird things about Amazon is that its turned us into people that think we need a crowd-sourced review for every $20 common household item.
I do hear that in the USA, people order everything from
Amazon instead of walking over to the store. I just can't
imagine staying home for packages all the time
Personally, it's hard for me to get to stores on work days - whereas my workplace will accept my personal parcels.
On the other hand, I know people whose workplaces won't accept parcels for them, but who walk past loads of stores on their way to work.
So for me, ordering online is a convenience - but for them, it's an inconvenience.
Disclaimer: I don't live in the USA
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that many cities in the US have residential neighborhoods separated and far from commercial ones?
If I had to grab the car and make a 20min drive, and find parking, just to buy a 10$ scale, no thanks, better to order online
Major improvements have been needed in Amazon's search ranking for years. The fact that it's little better than it was in 2002 tells me they don't really care to fix any of the issues with their shopping experience.
Dear anyone at Amazon: please read this and implement the suggestions: http://www.evanmiller.org/how-not-to-sort-by-average-rating....
I agree they need to start actually vetting their suppliers. But I disagree with you about the ranking. "Sort by average ranking" is broken obviously brain dead ways. They need a transparent ranking system that correctly balances number of reviews with average rating. I don't want to user their actually opaque "relevance" ranking.
These are product categories (and european sources) I frequently buy from, yet Amazon hardly serves any of them competently:
- studio equipment (Thomann)
- audio equipment (countless niche, yet competent HIFI shops)
- computer hardware / technology (Really, where to start? Alternate, Mindfactory, Apple)
- bike components (Rose, Mantel, ...)
- tea (Teekontor Kiel)
- clothing (Rapha, Uniqlo, Zara)
For most of these categories Amazon is completely useless. Discovery is abysmal. Selection is mediocre. Product data / listings are a mess and show repeated results with slightly different, often incomplete variations from multiple sellers. Alternatively you get one single product page that features countless, sometimes unrelated product variations that may or may not be Prime-eligible.
Maybe Amazon is fine with me buying cheap stuff from them and I still value their Prime-powered, reliable next-day delivery, but for important, expensive stuff I expect some degree of curation and will use other stores. At this point Amazon is slightly better than eBay.
Is this also true with items sold directly by Amazon?
Edit: I was paid for writing this review.
Notice that it is not a cheap plastic good, and is neither easily duplicated nor ripped off.
I think fake reviews are pretty widespread. This Washington Post story (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchant...) talks about how Facebook groups are used trade free stuff in exchange for good reviews. I joined some, and they seemed to have a lot of traffic. FakeSpot seems to put a lot of emphasis on analyzing the reviewers, probably looking for accounts who appear to be participating in one of these review rings.
Presumably this (and the fact that Amazon can analyse them too) leads to a wider spread of fake reviews even on legitimate items, as having fake accounts write generic reviews on a random selection of items they don’t care about would make them harder to detect.
I'd say however that the lack of accountability by Amazon (et al) is the real problem. They should be held accountable for these fake reviews. We need a lawsuit on this.
> I find nearly everything has an F with a high amount of fake reviews when I use it
Seems like a reflection of how bad the reviews on Amazon are, not a reflection of the quality of fakespot.
That said, there are plenty of A rated products in my experience. All of my products are A-rated, and unfortunately many of my competitors are honest too.
I personally just do my own homework. Rule of thumb is 2 or 3 star ratings IMO have higher weighted value because people weren't biased enough to leave a 1 or 5 star review.
Always check the most critical review as well, also all the 1 star reviews. If there's a video, its the most authoritative and unbiased source usually. Images are definitely good too.
Do a search on the question/answer section for competing products. The ones that are most unbiased are going to offer viewpoints in two competing products usually, but this sometimes can be faked. Check the reviewers history if there are both negative and positive reviews, as well as the semantics in their wording.
Check also if there's an alternative source of reviews, e.g. best buy & newegg for electronics. Do the ratings more or less indicate the same behavior? Or is there a discrepancy by a large amount?
If its a popular item or something like gym equipment, do multiple youtube searches and find both (1) authoritative well known youtubers and (2) amateur youtubers. (2) are usually unbiased (1) are potentially biased
If its a really popular item (phone, laptop) use other review sites as metrics. Wirecutter/Thesweethome started off as fairly unbiased, but were acquired by a large company so the ratings are now slightly skewed. You can always check other forums like linustechtips, reddit, and do a search across that entire thread for more answers.
Don't bother doing this much research unless its a big picture though. I had to buy a macbook pro so I thoroughly did 5-10 hours of research in which version I wanted (2015), which specs, potential issues I would run across, considering where the 3rd party sources of used macbook pros would most likely be sold at (ebay), etc. Differences in CPU/GPU benchmarks, battery life cycle usages, etc.
Costs are lowered and the value of Amazon's brand is relatively increased. Similar to stocking own-brand product in a supermarket. This weakens the negotiating position of big name brands.
IMHO investing 1/2 of 1% of the KU pool is enough to fund human review via their Mechanical Turk program. It wouldn't be perfect but it would eliminate most of the fraud.
They must not be interested. After all, they still get paid and have a level of legal insulation due to how they've structure Amazon marketplace. I wonder how long it'll take for their overall brand to take a hit over this, though.
I don't know how many horrible sets of bath rugs and towels I went through on Amazon before I finally bit the bullet and bought an actual expensive brand and the difference is staggering. Before someone asks they're from Frontgate (not on Amazon).
Point being I'm just sending Amazon money over and over again.. It's definitely made me go back to stores where I can see the product for certain things.
Amazon could help fix this problem by creating "sponsored" reviews. This way a company can pay for reviews in a non-scummy way, a reviewer (and Amazon) gets paid, and a customer can tell whether the review was paid for or not.
Or just pass laws to regulate reviews.
It has mixed results. Amazon is upfront about Vine reviewers getting free product and resulting reviews have a Vine tag on top. Customers tend to not like Vine reviews vs verified purchase reviews. While there are negative Vine reviews, most are positive. It may be due to a psychological quid pro quo, since you tend to get more products from the same manufacturer if you offer positive reviews vs negative ones. It's just really hard to be unbiased when you keep getting "free" stuff from one of your favorite companies.
*It's taxable according to Amazon's cost in most cases so you get to figure out Amazon's margins for a lot of products. If it's manufacturer sponsored, then the item isn't taxable as income. Food and similar products are also not considered taxable.
That's why Consumer Reports was so successful in the past. Their reviews were completely unbiased because the draw was in people paying to get thorough, objective reviews of products.
Now that revenue comes from ads and manufacturers all over the internet, it's hard to find reviews that aren't paid ads.
Once it opened up to people that had never left reviews, naturally the quality is going to drop by some amount.
Amazon Vine reviewer here, for a handful of years, probably longer. They've changed how things are handled, so I'll say how it is now.
When I remember (they did away with an email of items you could select from years ago), I log into the Amazon Vine portal and see about ten things I can select to review. It seems to be somewhat based upon what I'm shopping for on Amazon, as more than once I've seen something in Vine a few days, weeks, or months after I've been looking for the item online (and sometimes have purchased something similar).
Anyway, I select the items I want to review and then get them within a week. We used to have 30 days (or four week, I forget which) to use and review the item, but now there's no date, at least not one that we can see. To review the item we go back into the portal, leave our review using essentially the same interface you use whenever you leave a review, and then move on.
When it displays on the site our reviews automatically get a badge that it's a Vine review. If the product ends up getting too many Vine reviews (or some other criteria) our reviews could be removed without notice.
So companies don't necessarily have a hand in deciding who gets their product, but I'm sure if they cared they could see who did.
A few times I got something just because, back when we didn't have to pay tax on the items we received, since Amazon could technically ask for them back at any time, as they still owned them, and my reviews were generally lower than my usual reviews because I didn't want the item to begin with.
Now that we need to pay tax I'm much more selective on what I want, and probably give more 4- to 5-star reviews because of it. If I just got something and had to review it, then it would be more likely I'd get something I didn't want (women's wear in a size my other half doesn't wear, or kid toys for a different gender or age range), and it's score would suffer.
From Amazon's perspective, I'm sure they rely upon the fact that reviews tend to be either overly positive or overly negative (when was the last time you left a review on something that was okay, or sufficient?) so that they can move product. Perhaps Vine helped with that. Perhaps their new program (the name of which I've forgotten) does too.
Personally, I can sleep at night because I'm okay with the scores I've given the items I've reviewed. Five-point scales are pretty easy; 1 = hate it, 2 = don't like it, 3 = no feelings either way, 4 = like it, 5 = love it. I've also gone back and changed scores because of what I've experienced later.
Back when they had forums there were clearly some people that just wanted the free products, and would then turn around and sell the item after a few weeks or months. I know I definitely wasn't one of those people.
Is this true?
I'd expect if Amazon had any integrity they'd take steps to prevent this via there position as an intermediary.
Isn't this what the companies are paying for?
I really can’t see a way around this.
Australia just today fined a company for manipulating TripAdvisor reviews:
Seems like a dark pattern to encourage only positive reviews.
I’ve given real reviews on Yelp of businesses that had real problems. These negative ratings were shuffled off into their special bucket of maybe-less-reliable reviews, well under pages of HIGHLY questionable 5-star reviews. I also have a friend with a business who was plainly told that he needs to pay to ensure good reviews. Yelp is a scam, and wins by being a virtual monopoly (as Amazon reviews do).
It is also amazingly hard to get reviews on the App Store from real users, for instance. I imagine you pretty much have to ask 60 friends to “help” you, or pay somebody, either of which creates a pool of fake reviews. It really changes your perspective on any other “ratings” you see.
In the end, I think society will learn that this is another example of buyer beware, and you get out of it what you put into it. Since looking over “reviews” for 30 seconds is low-effort, it is low-value. If you want good results, you need to spend a good amount of time and effort researching products.
When looking at the reviews on Amazon, countless times I've seen reviewers mention to not buy the item from a particular seller because it was not genuine or was defective. If I'm not sure about the brand, I'll search it to see if its legitimate and if there are reviews/complaints on other sites. I'll also use buying guides when determining what to buy instead of Amazon reviews.
Writing this comment has made me re-think why I'm writing this comment.
I rarely leave a review for average products. There is rarely a good way to communicate to folks that the product simply met expectations. For example, if I buy a bag of coffee that I've purchased before and I get said coffee, there isn't much I can say. "I bought this because I find this coffee good enough to buy a second time. It isn't my favorite, but it is good and my average quality of coffee. Package was undamaged and contained the expected coffee".
That isn't exactly a 5 star review, yet if I give 3 or 4 it seems to be a ding on the company. I'd rather not, thank you.
And that's the problem with user reviews. They emphasize the extreme ends of the spectrum. There's little incentive to leave a review for the potentially silent majority of moderate users that are simply satisfied with the product.
But if they simply asked if it was what I was expecting and had reasonable options - along with not punishing folks for simply delivering what I expect - I'd answer yes.
Me? Because I enjoy helping others - and it is my best way of punishing bad actors and supporting good ones, hopefully helping to balance the market in the long run.
Actually a bit of the same reason as why I'm writing here: help people by providing facts, add some balance and maybe sometimes a new perspective.
That makes me sad. Altruism is not strange. The urge to do for others what you would have liked them to do for you is common, normal, and healthy. I review only a small percentage of the things I buy online, but I do review some when I feel that I can provide some information I don't see in other reviews. Precise details about fit for running gear, or durability for just about any product, are often hard to come by, so I'll often come back and add a review to share my findings. Maybe it will encourage someone else to do similar reviews, and maybe some day I'll benefit from reading one of those. Does that seem strange to you?
- you can post a review
- you can talk about your disfunctional item to the next person in the room
- you can stay silent
Staying silent is often a mental burden, because you invested time and energy to buy something that doesn't work, and you feel betrayed. You can keep silent only a finite quantity of such "betrayals", before it adds up and starts affecting your mood and social interactions.
Talking about it to the next person in the room is a quick way of getting rid of that mental burden, at the cost of your social interaction with that person. Most people don't want to listen to other's problems/failures, especially if it regards an item they will never use.
Or you can leave a review. That way, you can get rid of the mental burden, and the review targets the most pertinent people : the seller and the future buyers (which include yourself maybe). At best, the business will iterate on a new product, taking into account some of the reviews.
Edit : just writing that comment to convince myself here ;-)
The problem is, my review might appear fake.
Some of that applies here as well: the feeling of doing good, the hope of "paying forward" works (just the culture of leaving reviews might one day lead to a review for me) etc
Well don't take it on trust, validate it works. And keep validating it still works, because one day it won't. Everyone seems to sell out in the end.
I had no idea there's a full scale electronic war on the streets of my city.
Probably not, though, so more likely the fake reviewers will find a way to avoid its detection algorithm at some point.
Very generic positive language.
Poor grammar and or spelling.
The only sure way is to click on the profile and read the rest of their reviews.
Now I am beginning to wonder what percentage of people are aware of this issue.
On a different note, I saw elsewhere (Axiom perhaps? I cannot remember) that amazon claimed it was only roughly 1% of all reviews that were paid for. Which based on my past experience in E-Commerce, seems significantly lower than would be estimates.
me too. maybe NPR is behind the times. also: Amazon is a sponsor of NPR (just sayin')
> amazon claimed it was only roughly 1% of all reviews that were paid for.
yes. that's right. the 1% figure also appears in the NPR article:
"Our approximation is that less than 1 percent of reviews are inauthentic," says Sharon Chiarella, vice president of community shopping at Amazon.
There are 480 million products on Amazon, many in somewhat obscure categories. Seems that if the fake reviews are simply concentrated in a popular 1% slice, we've got almost 5 million popular products with ~~100% fake reviews.
Obviously oversimplified, but the likelihood is that the reviews are sufficiently concentrated to be a problem using their own figures, and the real figures are likely higher
I remember reading an exposé recently, which I suspect was posted here, but I can no longer find it. (An other dropped out of the group(s) due to ethical concerns.)
It was only 99 cents, but I wasted at least a couple of hours on it, which is what really annoys me.
"Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there is high deception involved."
Scroll down to see the first two entries in the product list here: https://www.fakespot.com/company/donald-j-trump
Or is it just bumped up due to an old electoral algorithm Amazon uses?
Amazon is selling convenience. But it's not convenient to:
1. Filter out products full of Vine program reviews, which I believe are completely skewed due to the reviewers receiving the products for free
2. Read between the lines to filter out paid/bias reviews that are NOT part of the Vine program
3. Research to ensure the product itself is not fake or counterfeit
Feel like I'm shopping at the shadiest flea market in town.
You bet that after it was all over and done, I wrote that one-star review. While writing it, I noticed that other people had the same issue. One person also had to cite court fees before they paid up, and some others didn't know enough about applicable law or had amounts that were just too low to go to court over (like $50-$250). I usually don't put much stock in such reviews, but it turns out I should have read and considered them.
There are definitely legitimate cases for one-star reviews.
"Our approximation is that less than 1 percent of reviews are inauthentic," says Sharon Chiarella, vice president of community shopping at Amazon. She adds that "sometimes individual products have more suspicious activity."
The disparity in what outside services observe and users experience vs. what Amazon claims, and the increasing press coverage and online discussion of the problem, will force Amazon to take increasingly drastic measures to crack down on bogus reviews.
There is also the issue of increasing levels of returns for 5-star crap. But, while Amazon can absorb the costs of returns, Bezos truly hates negative press, and the Amazon PR machine will go to great lengths to get high-profile news orgs repeating the official Amazon line.
If they can't tamp down negative coverage, the best hope for generating positive press is to announce action - a crackdown, lawsuits against fake reviewers, or other evidence that they are "doing something" about the issue. Unfortunately for Amazon, they've done this in the past (1, 2) and the problem appears to have gotten worse.
1. October 2015: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/18/amazon-su...
2. April 2016: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-sues-all...
I'm not sure that's true. I think they pride themselves on not worrying about being understood, in other words, not pandering to the press or Wall Street.
They, Amazon, would not post it because they claim it doesn't "adhere to the guidelines".
The review was exactly as follows:
These are "SURTRACK/TRAKMOTIVE" brand axles, part numbers BM-8040 and BM-8041. I only installed the left side but since it didn't fit properly on my 2006 BMW 530xi I'm returning them. The OE part number is: 31607570275 and MFG part number is: BM-8041.
The problem was that the inner boot fits improperly and deforms/creases from being stretched when installed (see images).
Looking at the product images for this product on Amazon, as well as elsewhere online, you can tell the boot is very different from the product I received.
Can anyone find anything that goes against their review guidelines in above?
It's really made shopping on Amazon a frustrating experience -- well over half the products I've checked (in a couple specific product categories) have had F or D ratings according to both sites. I've wondered if some of these are false positives (i.e. ReviewMeta flags a product's reviews as fake but they're actually legitimate), but when you look at their reasoning in the breakdown they give, it's usually pretty convincing that many/most of the reviews are indeed fake.
I feel like this might be a case where ignorance is (mostly) bliss ... when I naively thought the vast majority of reviews on Amazon were genuine, shopping was much faster and simpler, and I mostly had good experiences buying well-reviewed products despite that many of those reviews were probably fake.
The bigger problem for Amazon I think is fake products and inventory co-mingling, rather than fake reviews per se. But while others are complaining about the 5-star system not being very good (there's a fancy Bayesian system I've seen before that's better..), at least Amazon shows you the distribution, reviewers can upload photos, and it lets you filter by star count to get a sense of the things said for various ratings.
I'll have to start trying out the fake review spotting tools. But I don't think my current behavior will change that much...
Well, I know that there aren't any reviews in a B&M store, but (1) I've been checking online reviews (usually Amazon) for non-trivial purchases at B&M stores for a while now (either before I go or at the store on my phone), and (2) B&M stores do usually have at least one human employee in the loop signing off on a product going onto the shelves, and at the very least the "big name" ones (almost) never sell blatantly bogus/fraudulent products (fake Apple-branded MacBook chargers, etc.). Amazon has pretty much been the Wild West ever since they started allowing third party sellers, which I used to be fine with, back when I was under the impression that the reviews were generally pretty reliable, and sure that something that said "Shipped from and sold by Amazon" (or whatever) was a safe bet.
So the solution must be a review system that works like Twitter, where each user has a unique "view" composed of sources they've selected, directly or indirectly. This diversity would make infection much more difficult and less rewarding for shills and other attackers.
I'm still trying to figure out the best design for such a system. The requirements and usage patterns would be quite different from Twitter's, and I'm not aware of any existing attempts that I can learn from.
Easy answer: distributed consensus, à la Bitcoin.
I tend to just filter on reviews that are 2 or 3 stars and use those to work out the cons of the product. These reviews are the most likely to be honest and can often give you the information that other reviewers forget to mention. Unfortunately, 2 and 3 star reviews are the least likely to be posted so you can only find them on products that have been reviewed hundreds of times.
For example: I've seen many, many 1-star "product was damaged in shipping" and similar e.g. "received wrong product" one-reviews for products that were absolutely stellar. Getting into even more tricky ground, I've seen 1-star "product is unscientific" reviews left on books containing information that is mainly intractable to science, like studies in history.
My full analysis of Amazon rating values is here (https://minimaxir.com/2017/01/amazon-spark/), although it may be obsolete and it's not possible to get better/more recent data anymore.
For what it's worth, my interpretation as a writer is what the websites meant. Here are Amazon's labels for stars:
1. I hate it.
2. I don't like it.
3. It's okay.
4. I like it.
5. I love it.
1. Eek! Methinks not.
2. Meh. I've experienced better.
4. Yay! I'm a fan.
5. Woohoo! As good as it gets!
This is one reason I don't usually write reviews.
The proper way would be to ditch 5-star reviews in favor of just "thumbs up" and "thumbs down", youtube-style
I think blockchain might be a good use case for this. Cencorship resistant, decentralized review, not controlled by a single company, and anyone can contribute, and see the reviews (i.e via browser extension). And everyone is rewarded by currency when they provide a review. Just not sure how to prevent spam, and deal with people gaming the system. Perhaps a staking system could be introduced wherein a user would lose their stake if the review proved to be inauthentic (proving it comes with its own problems). Anyway, these are just some of things I've been pondering about before.
On the other hand, I believe I read that some fake reviews are actually negative, as a means to funnel users to competing products. So who knows?
Can't trust anything I read on the internet concerning a product or service.
Oh, right. I often look for a few positive ones (to find what people thought was positive enough about this product to mention it) as well as the negative ones (to see if they complain about defect units and other one-off issues, or if there are actually real issues with a product), sorted by newest in the hopes that I don't happen to be looking right after a batch of paid reviews were added. But you're right, there is a reason why negative ones would be fake as well. Seems to be less common, though, but still.
This is why I find it difficult to blame Amazon for things like this - though that is not to say they shouldn't try, but I don't think anybody is saying they're not. It's just that this is something you might call a game of cat and mouse, but I think it may be borderline impossible to detect fake reviews if done well. Imagine I somehow get 500 confederates from geographically diverse regions, and pay them each a substantial amount of money to purchase a product and give a positive review. How do you prove those reviews are fake?
I don't think anyone has every heard of the "brand" but it was sent from "the UK" allegedly.
It came with a US plug (I'm in the UK) and software on an 80mm mini-cd. That software is riddled with malware. It also has one of those comedy auto-translated user manuals.
Some of these trade offs I can forgive for the price. I can't forgive the malware at any price.
The days of allowing what are essentially anonymous sources to dictate what we do, where we go, what we buy, and how we think are coming to an end.
Reply All had an resent episode about it
first they had fake reviews. Amazobn required actual purchases so companies would pay people to purchase and return. you can't ban returns otherwise there would be no negative reviews.
how can this be solved? some kind of reputation system? how would you lose rep?
I love to hear your ideas?
Really now? Has amazon considered firing those teams? Because that tech is beyond broken.
The Internet can not believed for much and is easily manipulated for the better of those smart or immoral enough (however you view it) to use it to line their pockets.
Could also do something like upvotes but then that just ends up with the same problems as stars.
They sell me crap and I can't even complain about it?
If the reviews have to go through Amazon's system it should be hard enough to fake.
The "true" customers will make bad reviews if they didn't like the product.
The "fake" reviewer can't rate their own products to make them get a better review, an they have to buy the competitors product x times to give x bad reviews.