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How Scammers in China Manipulate Amazon [video] (wsj.com)
181 points by juokaz on Dec 17, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 100 comments

The video is must-watch for those who are unfamiliar with the many ways in which shady vendors game Amazon's systems to scam customers.

Speaking as a longtime Amazon customer:

* I do feel the authenticity of products in some categories can no longer be taken for granted on Amazon. For example, if I search for electronics, the search results look like "a sea of endless crap," full of the kinds of products you might find at a counterfit-goods store in a shady part of town.

* Product search no longer works as well as it did in the past for me. Frequently, I find myself having to invest time and effort to identify which items are of decent or good quality in that "sea of endless crap." I find myself having to click on results and scan descriptions to find products that are sold "by Amazon" instead of third parties, to minimize worry.

* Product reviews and ratings no longer seem trustworthy. It's not just that there are large operations cranking out fake reviews every day,[a] but that I often find it time-consuming to sort out which reviews are true versus fake. Fake reviewers seem to be getting better and better at fooling human beings.

Over the past year, I've started going to local "brick and mortar" retailers like Best Buy more and more, because I find they provide a better-curated shopping experience. There are fewer products from which to choose, but I feel more certain that they're authentic and of known quality.

I'm hoping Amazon will address all these issues... soon.

[a] For example, see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18262101

I had a recent scenario lately where I bought a small consumer electronic device through Amazon based off of reviews. There were thousands of reviews for this item at the time of purchase. Once the item arrived I realized it didn't work so I went back to the Amazon page and there was now only one 1 star review which was someone wondering what happened to all the reviews that were there a few days ago.

There are some questionable things going on with dog food as well. For example I recently purchased a case of a certain dog food my dog has been eating for years. If I click on the product link in my Amazon order history it says that it is sold by the manufacturer of the dog food, but in the Amazon order history itself it says a different store that I've never heard of. The inside of the can looked a little different, less gravy and it made my dog start vomiting almost immediately.

The same product can be sold by both amazon and 3rd party. The reviews will be mixed together.

Ex: amazon sells tshirt. People post reviews. 3rd party sells tshirt with the same product page as amazon's and the quality is poor. Reviews are mixed together and you can't see the seller on which the review is based.

I don't understand why Amazon did this? Surely it's to their benefit to drive sales from good suppliers (if there is more than one supplier) as that leads to more customer satisfaction.

It's a bit fraudulent really, like a bait and switch.

In reality each page needs a product and supplier rating, and people need to be guided to rate both. Instead you get "this company sacked my daughter; 1 star" and "the postman dropped it; 1 star" type ratings.

It makes logistics easier I'd think. The mistake Amazon is making is that Product A is Product A is Product A. It means they have 2 less things to track quantity of and they can have 1 count that matters instead of 3. On the surface it seems 100% logical...

Reminds me of story where (and I'm going to butcher parts of this) a town is making a huge vat of wine (or maybe it's food related) and everyone household is supposed to bring a bottle to pour in. A couple of people decide to cheat the system and bring water instead expecting to hide under the radar. It turns out way more people than a few take this path and so the "wine" just tastes like water with a hint of wine in it.

Is it "easier"? I'd have thought with their robots-and-bins it was notionally identical, save a few minor modifications to the front-end.

As it's Amazon, presumably they tested and found this to be the best mode for profit.

> I'd have thought with their robots-and-bins it was notionally identical

Is it really identical? They do have quite a bit of warehouse which means that shipping can be quite longer and more expensive.

Let say I'm a third party and I got 100 shirts in Amazon warehouses in north America and they got 100 too. That means that in average there's 2.6 shirts per warehouse (I found there is 75 warehouses but that can be a wrong number) but we each got 1.3 in averages! If someone buy 2 of mine, most likely they'll have to ship one from somewhere else, while they could just take one of theirs and consider it the same.

At the end of the day though, it doesn't means that I was truthful and my product is actually the same, which can hurt their orders.

The ratings on the product page are meant to be purely about the product. Reviews that mention the seller are often removed. This is actually the main way sellers get rid of bad reviews: most one star reviews will include a reference to the seller and so amazon will usually remove them if the seller asks.

There is a separate review system for sellers, and the score is shown when you look at the buying options, but it's little used and much less visible.

I've seen this lots and lots of other places as well. For instance, Walmart's website will return hits for searches, and when you look at the product page it will invariably have "Sold by SomeNobody." These huge supply-chain-engineering companies just rake in listing fees now that other parts of their business model are solved.

Doesn't amazon make it fairly obvious when you're ordering from a 3rd party or not?

There's still a measure of control in who the supplier is, and the reviews for that supplier too.

Your missing the key part. You can order from the manufacturer through amazon, and they will ship you the part from the 3rd party (that may or may not be legitimate) if the have the same ID number. Even though you ordered from the manufacturer, you may get a fake product. They commingle inventory, to make it easier for them to ship from nearest warehouse, but don't really put enough work into ensuring the products are actually identical.

The funny thing is Chinese e-shops don't do that. You can find a bunch of the same goods at e.g. JD but if you buy from the JD itself ("Joy Collection" in the English JD frontend joybuy.com), it would never be fake and it would never be co-mingled - and the reviews are separated too.

They combine inventory for the same item from different sellers. Even if the item you bought says it is being sold by Amazon that doesn't mean that the product you receive will be one that they sourced. It could easily be from a third party seller instead. Unless you're buying something like they're own Amazon Basics brand you have no way to reliably tell where something actually came from on Amazon.

>Doesn't amazon make it fairly obvious when you're ordering from a 3rd party or not?

I would say "no," because pretty much everyone I know thinks Amazon is a store with a single source of goods, not a "marketplace." This is probably intentional.

It’s actually worse than you think. Amazon often stores their “sold directly by Amazon” inventory with “fulfilled by Amazon” product sold by third party sellers. This would make getting a knockoff just a matter of bad luck, even if you order from Amazon themselves.

I haven’t ordered from Amazon since I learned this months ago, with two exceptions for birthday presents.


Yes it makes it clear (but they can "commingle" the same product from different sellers, as said in the related comments).

However let's say you want to buy a product. But the reviews are mixed. Some are 5-star reviews, but there are 1-star reviews as well. And there are 5 sellers. From which one do you buy? All the reviews are mixed.

Perhaps a bad review is caused by a seller sending fake product. But perhaps the review is a valid review and it highlights a defect in the original product. You can't know.

Yes, but with mixed bins from multiple sellers, you don't know whose item you actually receive.

You should never buy any kind of food (for humans or animals) on Amazon...

Amazon purchasing rule of thumb used to be: "no electronics."

Then it was updated to include "nothing that goes on or in your body."

Then it was updated to include "nothing that goes on or in any living thing."

Then it was updated to include "nothing you wouldn't by from a random stranger standing outside a fly-by-night flea market."

For thousands of years, brick-and-mortar stores have lived and died by the quality of their merchandise. Amazon is just learning this.

Ugh. There are still a couple of canned food items I buy regularly on Amazon. Supposedly they are from the US and Europe, but, yeah, I guess with Amazon you never know.

But because Amazon is hitting conventional, traditional retailers so hard, now I have to wonder: could Amazon's behavior with regard to counterfeit products and commingling influence my local brick and mortar retailers to do the same thing?

yea i never thought about this happening to canned food either.... until i heard stories of shipping containers full of counterfeit redbull being caught by customs at a terminal.

If it's branded and there is a decent profit margin, i guess we should assume some questionable actor will steal that margin given the opportunity.

Poor doggo! It should be a criminal offence to sell (or facilitate the sale, if you reasonably should have known, and Amazon should) of dangerous counterfeit goods. Hope he or she recovered.

It could just be a bad batch or something, I'm giving the company the benefit of the doubt still. I've never heard of this dog food being counterfeited. My dog did recover pretty quickly as well and has been enjoying eating roast chicken instead the past few days.

if you still have the packaging, it might be worth sending all of it to the real company to see if they can determine 1. if its fake, 2. if so, how they teach consumers/wholesalers to catch it and destroy it.

This has happened to me a couple times as well!

I'm at the point now where I've gone from trusting a review consensus to seeking an individual reviewer on a product that seems thorough and reliable.

My favorite example might be trying to find outdoor solar-powered lights. Mountains of garbage, with a lot of sellers just re-branding the same garbage. The silver-lining is that there are power-reviewers out there doing complete tear-downs and reviewing wiring/soldering quality. These people are the true heroes.

The fact that you are the one who has to sort through all those reviews to find the one review that is actually truly helpful... kind defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Isn't Amazon supposed to solve the problem for you, instead of making you solve it?

Totally this! Int he past in the UK - you had a choice for something similar - maybe head to the local Garden Centre and pick up a garden light for an OK price, if nto head somewhere like John Lewis and get a really good one for maybe twice the price, or head to 'local discount store' and get something that might last the summer. But at each price point you knew what you were getting. You didn't have to mess around like this as other than the discount store, the other shops knew that the way to get you to return was to sell quality. At best you'd return the item, at worst you'd never shop there again.

My wife used to work in fashion, where they'd cut a square out of the back of every shirt sample that they went on to order, so that they could be sure they got the same material when they got the wholesale order - I wonder if Amazon is going similar?

The problem is then you can't always tell if you're getting the same product as that reviewer.

A lot of products also have this problem where the listing page will have selectable variations that are totally different products. So naturally one could be total rubbish but the overall review score hides it. Amazon does it with their own basics items so it’s not something just scammers do. Sidenote, their powered usb hubs are garbage.


Right, that has happened to me before. I've just returned the item in that case. It seems less likely to happen if the item is fulfilled by Amazon.

Do any of these people have their own sites for these reviews? The problem is that they are getting buried on Amazon, but I would still like to read them.

The circuit I've been following recently for categories I know nothing about is finding a related subreddit, then looking for review sites or YouTube channels they find reliable.

I like outdoor solar-powered lights, could you link a reviewer doing these tear-downs? I'd love to see.

I recently ordered ~$100 of cables from Monoprice and paid $20 for shipping (even though I have prime!) because I don’t trust Amazon. Really, Monoprice wins on discovery too. They offer one of everything at a good price.

> I recently ordered ~$100 of cables from Monoprice

Wow, how did your 3,918 cables arrive? Was it a full-sized goods truck or a couple of crates?

(This is, for the unaware, a joke on how inexpensive-yet-still-excellent Monoprice's cables are. Every time I order a clutch of Ethernet or USB cables, I wind up ordering three times as many just to make the order total greater than the shipping total and to have spares for later use.)

I like Monoprice, but their affordable RCA cables are pretty bad. The connectors are stiff and brittle. So the first time you fit it, it requires massive force to get it in place, and if you unplug it a few times, it's so loose it makes no contaact and can't be recrimped.

OTOH, fancy RCA cables sell for next to nothing at thrift shops now.

monoprice is inexpensive but be certain of ordering what you need because returns are not economical. i ordered two items (among others) that i wasn't sure would work for my application. they didn't, so i requested a return. the return shipping cost was as much as the cables/cords themselves, so now they're just lying around adding clutter to my life.

this is true on amazon as well. $20 mouse cost me $8 to return.

I've stopped buying electronics from Amazon - it's not like I don't use Amazon for loads of other things (books, audiobooks etc.) but the risk is too high for anything electrical.

Recently bought some auto parts from Amazon. What I got was low quality, and threads stripped as I was installing. That's now another category of things I won't buy on Amazon.

Don't worry. You can still get low quality parts from other places as well.

I had to replace the water pump in my car twice in a year because the factory installed one failed, and then the one I installed after that failed within six months.

I just wish Amazon offered a "verified brand" tag. Sometimes I'm willing to take a gamble on a third party seller to save money or on something that's just for me, but when I'm buying gifts, I want to KNOW the thing I'm buying is really being sold by the manufacturer (or someone they've got a relationship with). It's obscenely difficult to figure this out on Amazon, which has driven me to buy from Walmart.com more often than I would otherwise.

They do, the system is just complicated and focused on high-value branded items.

Agreed, and add on top of that add in the litany of sponsored items, not just at the top and bottom of the page, but randomly embedded in search results with a light gray (rgb(118,118,118)) "Sponsored" label.

In a recent report, it was reported that 18% of Amazon's revenue is from these 3rd parties thru fees and services. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/13/amazon-and-publishers-hurtin...

I wonder how much of that revenue they would lose vs people who would just buy the sold by Amazon equivalent.

Have you tried comparing with something like fakespot? https://www.fakespot.com/

This article talks about the fraudulent practices by the vendors.

But this title made me think of the fraudulent practices by the buyers. It's a well-known problem in China, a small percentage of scammers will always try to abuse the system to its knees, as a result, vendors are forced to end their favorable policies (e.g. RMA), effectively causing a Denial-of-Service of convenient and high-quality services to the majority, legitimate customers. It is not limited to vendors, customer, but also widespread in the public services and financial sector. I think this is called a "low-trust society".

I believe having a system based on trust can be a viable solution. Unfortunately, this type proposal has been intentionally scaled-up by the government, leads to the upcoming "social credit system", based on mass surveillance.

And I think nowadays this approach as a solution is a dead-end, any similar system proposed by a government or a corporation will eventually become a mass surveillance system. Even the """relatively""" harmless financial credit system seems to go out of control, and a more concerning issue is that, unlike the Anti-Encryption Bill, a trust-based system can be legitimate, and solves real, severe problems, making it harder to argue against mass surveillance systems in disguise of trust and credit.

Is the fraud that much worse in China than in the US?

Plenty of places have friendly policies and are taken advantage of by a few, but they keep the policy because people like it.

There always will be those people.

I often hear "oh we can't do that, people will take advantage of it" then someone comes along and somehow doesn't go under and does well.

I think sometimes people and businesses are far more fearful of a potential risk than the actual impact.


The levels of fraud we see in China were so high that we eventually closed down there. It is objectively the highest level of fraud globally that we encountered.


Granted I understand if you don't want to say.

> Plenty of places have friendly policies and are taken advantage of by a few, but they keep the policy because people like it.

It's changing:

> Every time shoppers return purchases to Best Buy Co. BBY -2.65% , they are tracked by a company that has the power to override the store’s touted policy and refuse to refund their money. That is because the electronics giant is one of several chains that have hired a service called Retail Equation to score customers’ shopping behavior and impose limits on the amount of merchandise they can return.


That's not a change, that's how it's supposed to work. You keep the policy that people like, and track down the people who are abusing it. When I worked retail in 2012-2013 we took the drivers license numbers of people who returned items so that we could identify suspicious activity.

That actually seems like a lot of effort to KEEP the policy and filter others.

> I believe having a system based on trust can be a viable solution.

Whats that mean? Something between existing rating systems and "social credit system"??

I'm not OP, but here's what I thought about when I read that, and pardon me while I don my old man cap and reminisce about how much better it used to be.

Used to be I'd buy something at a store, use it for a week, it breaks and I head back to the shop and say, "Hey, this broke and it's brand-new." The proprietor would apologize and get me a new one. As years went on, people started cheating the system a little: take stuff back to shops where they didn't originally purchase it. Okay, now we need a receipt for returns. Save the receipt, no big deal. But a little bit of trust was lost there. Shop keeper assumed that if you're returning it, you must have purchased it there, but that's no longer a safe assumption. Save your receipt.

REI and L. L. Bean, as two examples, would warrant their stuff for life even if the manufacturer didn't. If you thought a pair of boots should have lasted three years instead of two, take/send 'em back and get new ones. But then people started going skiing on new skis and returning them on Monday. Or (again) returning stuff that REI sells, but wasn't purchased there. Now REI and L. L. Bean don't do that anymore.

From the seller's end, I present rebates that they have no intention of honoring if at all possible. 'nuf said on that side.

And so on, until today where I feel like I'm in a never-ending loop of that scene from The Big Short: I'll do the deal, but you have to tell me how you're going to fuck me. Because shopping online in many respects makes me feel the need constantly look over my virtual shoulder. Trust is completely gone. Amazon, as a simplistic example, just takes a bunch of shit of varying quality, tosses it all in the same bin with a single label, and it's up to you to figure out which is the genuine lightning cable and which one will burn your house down.

In summary, my view of a trust-based system is that I can assume what you're selling is what you say it is, and I the customer will not try and game whatever customer-oriented system you have in place.

> Trust is completely gone.

Not long ago, I returned an item to my local OSH retailer. I didn't even have a receipt. The product was basically a piece of junk. But they just handed me a new, better product in exchange.

Of course, OSH closed down.

Web of trust springs to mind for me.

God I'd love something like that for reviews. Farm out all the fake mass reviews you want, unless you get people who have the trust of people who will actually buy your product, you won't get anywhere. More than likely the companies in the market for fake reviews would be the ones to get scammed.

If my brother reviews a set of headphones on amazon, I'd trust that a lot more than random 5 star reviews. I'd also trust the people my brother trusts (but less so). I'd love a system like this to be formalized.

When I was saying a "trust-based system" in the original post, I was thinking about Silk Road - from what I've read from news, its eBay-like rating system reportedly, significantly increased the safety and efficiency of transactions overall. I was also thinking about #bitcoin-otc - the earliest Bitcoin trading community on Freenode IRC, it identifies potential buyers and sellers via OpenPGP public keys, buyers and sellers rate each other, and the bot builds a Web-of-Trust among all the participants. Alice can simply review all possible personal trust paths to Bob to assess the risk and trustworthiness.

My consideration was, it has been shown some trust-based rating systems can work under the most untrustworthy environment, I just went to the assumption that a similar, elaborate design to solve problems like vendor frauds, RMA frauds, etc. So I just vaguely said "I believe having a system based on trust can be a viable solution".

Since I haven't seen it posted yet, an invaluable tool for sifting through fake vs real Amazon reviews is fakespot.com. They use AI to score every product and crawl an item's review tree (reviews left by the same people for other products) to verify the authenticity of individual reviewers. I've sifted out a lot of shady products AND sellers using this. (I'm not affiliated in any way with them.)

I've been using this for a good part of the last year and it's definitely helped me dodge a few bullets that were in my cart. I would love if the creator made a browser add-on.

if Amazon doesn't want to address this issue by fixing its reviews, it should just acquire/incorporate Fakespot itself

It seems to me like one of the basic things Amazon should do is... Only allow reviews from people who have actually bought the product, and had time to receive it in the mail. I know, what a mind boggling concept.

This reminds me of the hateful comments that plague YouTube. Most of them come from accounts that only ever post hate comments. Would it be so fucking hard to write a heuristic that tags users constantly getting their comments downvoted so that someone can review them? Then, if they fail the review, you mute them for 6 months, delete all their comments, but let them think their comments are still visible. Maybe let all the haters see each other's comments and reply to one another so they can live in their own parallel universe of hate. These problems are not hard to solve. There is a lack of will to solve them.

>> Only allow reviews from people who have actually bought the product, and had time to receive it in the mail. I know, what a mind boggling concept.

Sorry, but that's not going to help at all. After Amazon banned incentivized reviews, pretty much all the sellers contacted the reviewers to buy products and then get reimbursed by PayPal. Sure, it's against the rules, but it's not being enforced.

They're not even hard to spot. I stopped doing incentivized reviews after the rule change, but I can see that a lot of the other reviewers are still reviewing a lot of stuff as verified purchasers. I know they're not real because I turned down offers from sellers to review the same products after the rule-change.

The worst part is that these reviews are even less honest than when incentivized reviews were allowed. Not all incentivized reviewers were shills (I tried hard to review stuff honestly - I would guess maybe a third of incentivized reviewers did as well). In the post-incentivized-review world, however, everyone who is participating an a verified purchase sham is giving 5 star reviews.

> Sorry, but that's not going to help at all. After Amazon banned incentivized reviews, pretty much all the sellers contacted the reviewers to buy products and then get reimbursed by PayPal. Sure, it's against the rules, but it's not being enforced.

Source for that: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchant...

If you have a Facebook account, you can find those groups easily. Though you may have to search for obfuscations like "AZON".

While I get that those groups exist, the sellers didn't have to do any new work to "convert" their existing reviewers.

Most if not all of the top-ranked incentivized reviewers already had longstanding communications with sellers via email.

Amazon actually marks such reviews as "Verified Purchase". The issue is that the upside of a good review is typically worth more to a vendor than the cost of the product.

Vendors typically will pay above the cost of their product for a single good review.

they've probably done an analysis and there's probably so many hate-commenters that muting them would significantly decrease their DAUs or something

Fake review mills will happily sell people products, and refund their purchase price + a gift card, in exchange for a good review.

I stopped trusting Amazon's review and stop buying unfamiliar brands.

I have seen too many "Amazon's choice" products with few hundreds reviews, all 5 stars, but the problem with these products are they were just listed a day ago and already got 400 or 500 five stars reviews. Looking at the review, they were all put on the same day and time. These 500 fives stars review push the product to the top of the search. Yet, Amazon did nothing about it as long as the products sell.

I sell only Amazon and I am telling you, I get a product review under 1% of the sales.

For as much as Bezos bangs the "Customer Obsession" drum, I'm beginning to doubt any serious product managers have used Amazon in the past few years to actually buy any simple, everyday items. I've had the following experience for several device categories: (electronics, tools & hardware, 3rd party phone cases, etc)

1) Search Amazon with a description (ie, "Qi wireless charging stand"[0])

2) Results are full of clearly duplicated products whose only difference is the screen printed brand. Sometimes, the Amazon tag of "Amazon's Choice" or "Best Seller" is applied multiple times on the first page, as a re-brander has taken over a subcategory that is irrelevant (eg, "Sports-Tennis Equipment"). These results also have ads injected and sometimes even totally irrelevant categories, deals, etc injected, further confusing the layout.

3) Look at several products pages and am unable to distinguish the differences or advantages of any. Obviously, most of these products are manufactured in a handful of OEM factories in China. The brands typically do not match the "sold by" section of the product page, either, further confusing me.

4) Scroll down to reviews. These are essentially worthless as they have been gamed to irrelevance. I mostly come down here to see if some angel who genuinely bought the product for their own use decided to write a review, with pictures. Even these can't be trusted now, though.

5) Check a review rating site, such as Fakespot, although I generally don't know what to do regardless of score, besides keep looking. (That is, a good review typically won't instill enough trust to flip me to "Buy it").

6) Go to Google and search from there. Results are sometimes better, but not always. I'll check several results.

7) Look at the Wirecutter to see if they address the category. Just buy whatever they recommend if so.

8) Go to a specific community for recommendations. This would be a subreddit, looking through a trusted Twitter user, forums, etc.

Now, I mostly skip all this, and my default behavior is to not trust anything on Amazon's website, and either start my search elsewhere, or buy whatever is cheapest and save my time. I used to go to Amazon to save time, but now I'd almost prefer going to Walmart and buying whatever option they have.

[0] - https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3...

I wish Amazon had a better system for reporting these things, that is, if they cared about the problem enough to implement one. If you contact support they will take your reports of specific items; but will act on those exact things reported only, and not bother to dig any deeper (at least, it appears that way).

This time of year the fake reviews are especially bad as well. For example, if you go to something like the Electronics › Camera & Photo › Video › Camcorders category, every top rated item is padded with, or only contains, fake reviews. They have hundreds of non-verified five star reviews all occurring on a single day. On a few items you can see where there's a whole series of padded reviews, than a few bad, real, reviews from the people that fell for it, than a later series of fake reviews to re-up the score and bury the real ones. Many of the fake reviews are painfully obvious too, like they know they don't even need to try to hide it. You can view a users review history by clicking their name on the review. If you follow most of these fake accounts, all of the activity they have is unverified 5-star reviews for questionable products coming all within a sequence of a few days.

If Amazon is using some internal/automated system to detect these things, it does a fairly horrible job. My guess is its not much of a priority for them though.

The question that no one in the thread is addressing is Amazon's thirst for growth.

By not developing a close to foolproof protocol for detecting and eliminating 'spam' (i.e fake products), this incentives the sellers to keep doing what they are doing.

I am not saying that this is not an easy problem. It is an incredibly difficult problem, but what has made Amazon super successful in the past, is figuring out incredibly difficult problems.

Maybe I am being impatient, but this problem has persisted for quite a long time. Their are ads everywhere.

I just speak for myself, but having to spend close to an hour sifting out what is a fake review and what is not, does not encourage trust from me.

I would be really interested what the customer retention is like for people who have received fake products.

Also see this podcast from reply all: https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/124

I use a service that checks the reviews on every Amazon item I'm going to buy and reject any products with gamed reviews.

In a different tangent I found myself disgusted with AliExpress lately when every listing I was looking at had semi-related bait items for higher listing position when sorting by price. Amazon isn't that bad yet.

Recently I was looking for a charger for my Lenovo laptop. On product listings from Lenovo's official account, I found reviews talking about receiving an unbranded chinese knock-off (not a Lenovo OEM product). I'd rather pay more money on some other site to at least get the product I intended to buy.

I refuse to purchase anything made in China from Amazon anymore. I've bought one too many extremely shitty (and dangerous) products from Amazon for me to get bitten again.

Shout out to https://reviewmeta.com - A service I recently discovered (maybe here!) and have been using for our holiday shopping needs. My wife now uses it and was horrified at how shady most reviews are.

Note: I have no affiliation with the company.

Anyone currently working on replacing product SKUs with public keys and verification process on the last hop where only the manufacturer can verify that a product is brand new?

That has blockchain all over it.

Why isn't the origin of a product a filter option on Amazon?

Take a look at Chinese e-commerce sites and learn how they deal with frauds, they have been dealing with these for more than 10 years.

In terms of technology, one can use machine learning for fraud detection. In terms of business operation, they have dedicated e-commerce site for official sellers, and there are several sites aiming up middle class market where products are curated and QCed by the sites.(sort of higher end Amazon Basics)

I worked at a place that was the only seller of a popular product yet it was sold on my countries amazon. They were about 25% off retail price too. They used pictures of genuine packaging and genuine items. I’m not so sure that they sent the customers the real things though.

I use fakespot.com to try to suss out which reviews are reliable. But it's difficult to tell if Fakespot can be trusted.

WSJ has a paywall. Anyone got a pastebin of the content?

Just replace 'wsj' by 'fullwsj' in the URL to access the content.

EDIT : see below for what it actually does. :)

It doesn't just "change the referer". It redirects you to Facebook, which redirects you back to WSJ.

If you don't want Facebook to know which articles you read, there are web extensions to fake the referer. I'm using https://github.com/JoaoAparicio/read-ft-wsj .

OK, thanks for the explanation. I didn't look into it in detail, my mistake.

Can something like this be done for Medium?

https://archive.is/3VGLm , but there's isn't much content beyond the video.

You should be able to download the video with youtube-dl.

Obligatory outline link: https://outline.com/k4V2Gt

Pay walled links should not be allowed here.

If there's a workaround, it's ok. Users usually post workarounds in the thread.

This is in the FAQ at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html and there's more explanation here:



Why? Some of the best content out there is supported by subscriptions and deserves discussion as well as financial support.

That’s fine, but if it’s not publicly accessible don’t advertise the pay for entry content, the masses can’t view it without waiting for someone to post a workaround link.

I would be fine with this if the link was to working content (the workaround link).

The mods generally seem to disagree. You might email the site operators using the Contact link below, as discussing here won’t have any impact on general site policy.



I know it is off topic, but has anyone else looked at the source for that site? I know I'm old school, but really? It's quite absurd the actual content to payload ratio.

Any newspaper site will be the same or worse.

I agree, they are all very much the same. I just find it a sorry state of affairs.

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