I bought a replacement screen from Amazon and it wasn’t working properly. I thought I did something wrong so I contacted the seller/manufacturer and they told: oh yeah, it‘s defective, we‘ll just give you your money back. I agreed and then the person said „cool, now in order to process your request, please click these buttons on Amazon” and they sent me a screenshot showing how to leave a 5 star review. wtf.
I refused and asked them to process the refund. First they said they can’t process the refund technically without me pressing those buttons and then that their job depends on it.
I requested a refund through Amazon and tried leaving a 1-star review saying that the product was defective and the seller tried to condition me into giving them a 5 star review. This review was not accepted by Amazon, saying that seller feedback should be given on the seller page. This does make sense if you have multiple sellers selling the same product, but it was not the case here. These guys were the only ones producing and selling it and if the score of 5-star reviews is from people being coerced to leave a review, then it should be there, not on the seller page where it’s very easily buried.
In the end I also contacted Amazon support with screenshots and I had to explain the problem 3 times as the customer representative said they didn’t understand what more can they do since I already received my refund. I’m the end, they said “they forwarded the message to the proper department, have a nice day”
If your neighbor recommends you a crap lawnmower, he'll have to explain to you why he thought it was good. You can ask him questions and compare his motivations to yours. He'll also end up living next to a badly mowed lawn if he doesn't put some work into it.
The seller has every reason to pay people to write good reviews. He doesn't even need real people, it's the internet and you can invent people, complete with their own unique photos and profiles.
Basically, honesty is expensive and cheating is cheap. Why would we trust it?
My personal experience with Amazon is that it's the shop to go to for stuff that is ok if it is broken. If I buy a cable for £10, and there's a 10% chance it's faulty, it's not a huge problem for me. The other use case is where the guarantee comes from the brand. I'm not sure why but I tend to think if I buy an iPhone on Amazon, it will be the genuine thing from Apple, and I have history with Apple apart from Amazon reviews.
Brands were invented to enable a trust relationship between manufacturer and consumer. Brands are an anchor of trust. There is no such anchor for sellers.
As you wrote, your neighbor won't recommend you a bad lawnmower because they have an interest in a continued good relationship. If your neighbor is secretly exchanged for a almost, but not quite identical one, willy-nilly and all the time you would not be able to build a trusting relationship in real life too.
But that is exactly what happens on Amazon. What good are seller reviews if sellers change and disappear all the time. What good are they if I can't click "Buy again" and then rely on buying not only the same product but also from the same seller I already trust?
I wish seller brands were as prominent as manufacturer brands but I can understand why neither Amazon nor traditional brand have an interest in such a system.
We all know that Amazon has counterfeit goods and only cares the minimum.
We all know that Amazon has fake reviews and only cares the minimum.
We all know that Amazon "marketplace" is over-priced imports from AliExpress (if we're lucky!) or perhaps is refurbished goods, fake goods, or just scams.
The brand that sucks is Amazon. The seller that is ripping us off is Amazon.
This can't go on forever. They really are killing their brand. 10 years ago, Amazon had the reputation of a king. They were revolutionizing delivery and could do no wrong.
Today... you ask a group of people their opinion on Amazon and we're already up to half negative on average, at least where I am.
They are literally killing their own brand by doing this.
Well written reviews are a common good, and there is good reason to believe that leaving reviews encourages others to do the same, and that helps me, so I do it.
Yes, I know there'll be fake reviews, but most of the time they are pretty easy to spot.
Not least because the reviews that swing things for me -- both towards buying and away from it -- are the negative reviews.
Most of the obvious fake ones are good reviews, but I'm usually more concerned about what the worst thing someone has to say about a product. If someone posts about a printer that it doesn't work with Linux, I won't buy it (at least not without double-checking and verifying that said reviewers info is outdated) no matter how many positive reviews there are. Meanwhile, if I can't find any negative reviews complaining about things I care about it will often convince me to buy.
That is a lot harder to game than getting a bunch of people to write that they love the product.
Why do you think any of the reviews on Amazon are real? I think any random review you pull up is more likely than not to be fake. Of course, we can't know for sure, but Amazon has simply lost my trust.
I no longer believe any of the reviews on Amazon are real, and Amazon will have to prove to me they are before I ever trust a review on that site.
That's harder to game, because while a seller certainly could post a negative review citing some irrelevant flaw (and I have seen that), and hope that triggers buyers who don't care, they won't stop other people (like me) from posting negative reviews too, and what I'm looking for is products with a reasonable number of negative reviews where there is an absence of reviews mentioning things I care about.
I also know first hand from selling a novel on Amazon that you can perfectly well gain honest reviews in ways allowed by Amazon, and I also leave a reasonable number of reviews on Amazon myself, so I have every reason to expect at least a portion of the reviews to be honest.
Overall I've managed to avoid buying anything that appears to have been fake from Amazon, despite having bought a couple of thousand products at Amazon over the years (based on the order page stats, and taking off a few hundred as an estimate of digital only products)
It probably sucks to be an honest seller affected by it, but I've yet to find a situation where I have unable to find a product I'm happy with, so clearly they're not doing this often enough to affect me much.
Because they contain facts which anchor them to reality and act as “proof of work” in some way.
I don’t care for a review which says “this camera takes amazing pictures” that could apply to any camera and is subjective, but one which says “the cover on the sd card slot is sharp and cut my finger twice” is likely someone who has used that specific camera, and has a specific comment, and while it could be faked - why would it be? Like the difference between house adverts that say “cozy kitchen” vs “marble countertops”, didn’t Freakonomics find that specifics increase value more than generalities because people know what a marble countertop is but a cozy kitchen is filler when there’s nothing good to say.
With fake positive reviews, the seller has an incentive to leave them up, and Amazon has no particular incentive to remove them -- you, a random user, has to somehow convince Amazon to take them down.
With fake negative reviews, the seller has an incentive to get them taken down, and has the data to prove that the reviewer didn't actually buy the item. (Actually buying all your competitor's items to leave fake negative reviews about them would dramatically increase the cost of the tactic.)
End result: ignore positive reviews because they're easily faked, check negative reviews because they're probably accurate.
Especially since, you know, GTP-3 is a thing, and its effects are going to be felt pretty soon.
Worse, that way you would end up avoiding the "fair players" who don't leave fake negative reviews with the competition.
And in terms of trying to game out the fake reviews, I've found relying on the 2 to 3 star reviews are the best. The liars who are trying to trash the product tend towards 1 star. The liars who are trying to sell the product almost always go for 5 stars. 2 to 3 stars, sometimes 4, are usually the people who actually bought it.
Fake reviews aren’t all that cheap, in the scheme of things. Leaving bad reviews on the competition doesn’t have anywhere near the immediate impact on your bottom line as fake good reviews on your own products. I also haven’t seen reports of people being paid for bad reviews, when confessions of people being paid to write good reviews are all over the place.
In case a popular product is simply handled by Amazon or other sellers, they aren't responsible for the quality itself. Bad review of a keyboard on one site is as valid as on another.
I'm rather surprised at that, from someone who claims to be an economic grad. First of all, you must realize that that 10% isn't stable: the "Market for Lemons" effect will guarantee that if nothing is done to stop it, that 10% will become 90%.
Secondly, you're not factoring in either your time or the opportunity cost of having to buy your second cable. If you order your cable and it arrives the next day but broken, you spend at least an hour figuring out that it's broken, and then have to order another one, and then wait at least another day for it to come.
Apple accessories in particular are heavily counterfeited, I'd bought some USB-Ethernet adapters for a meeting room with too much WiFi interference. They seemed to work fine then I got a new Mac and it refused to recognize the adapters, and they appeared with weird Chinese characters in System Profiler. On careful inspection, they turned out to be fakes, but highly convincing ones. Amazon refunded me, but the distinct impression I got was they don't care as long as they get the money from a sale, and refunds for the few customers who do complain are just a cost of doing business.
Are you sure? Is this ergodic? Does the ensemble average predict the time-series average?
Akerlöf doesn't seem to apply here, there's no hidden information that comes out later. With a car there's all sorts of dimensions to it that might annoy you.
Perhaps the idea is that all cables will go to crap eventually, but my detection cost is also fairly low on that. Additionally, and this is probably not a great dynamic, I can go to the website of a box-store, which will carry some of the same brands, presumeably vetted more than the junk shop.
Poor assumption. You're presuming this is "only the types of cables you buy". Many times I buy cables to do things with devices, for which I have no working cable already.
* My device stops syncing with my cable. Is it the device, or the cable? I buy a replacement cable, just in case.
Replacement cable doesn't work. Now I think it's probably the device.
I spent time here, checking to see what's changed, maybe an update, maybe a config setting, maybe something else. Or, is the device just broken? Do I send it away for repair?
* I want a cable to use with something I've had for years. Lots and lots and lots of examples here, all sorts of devices, like serial cables to debug with routers/switches, test cables, even just an ethernet cable, if you may not have had one before.
Now you test, and you can't tell. Is the port on the device bad? The settings you are using to connect? The device firmware? A problem with the port on the computer you're using to connect to the device?
Hours and hours wasted.
Worse, you advocate buying two. Great. This means that no matter what, I'm returning that spare cable. Now it's not '5 seconds' to determine it is bad, it's 'no matter what, I'm spending 20 minutes returning something I never wanted to begin with".
Frankly, I'd rather spend $10 extra on some types/classes of $20 cable, to have it pre-tested even.
The hidden information is how much quality control has gone into the manufacturing process. Seller A and seller B are both selling a cable for $10. Seller A bought thier cables for $8 because they spent a lot of time honing their manufacturing process and weeding out bad cables; the chance of getting a bad cable from them is 0.1%. Seller B bought their cables for $2, because they just went for the absolute cheapest option they could. The chance of getting a bad cable from them is basically 75%. You as someone buying it from Amazon can't tell the difference; so sellers like B make loads more money. Unscrupulous people hear about this and many more sellers like B show up. Sellers like A get frustrated and leave.
This is so incredible false, cable quality varies greatly:
- wires, gauge and material. Copper is expensive and some cheat using aluminum or Al plated copper. Gold plated terminals, tinned copper, etc.
- wire material and single/multi strand determines resistance and current rating, along with loses in the cable.
- insulation and sleeves can be made from different materials with a lot of properties, incl. max temperature, flame retardant and so on: pvc - cheap, rubber - expensive, nylon/polyamid - expensive, silicon - very expensive.
And that just touches the basics...
If the cable fails to carry a signal, or fails to do so without interference, it should be pretty easy to determine this. Failure to do this would make it "faulty".
Sure there is: How well a cable handles being bent, and whether or not it catches fire... Cables and especially chargers are some of the products I'm most cautious about buying from sellers I'm not confident about exactly for that reason.
(not that origin is sufficient - the one charger I have had that got closest to setting the house on fire was a genuine Apple charger [many many years ago, they had a design flaw with a too-short sleeve on the cable on the early Macbook chargers; it'd bend and short and melt])
Maybe, but in the UK I'd choose ten other suppliers before giving a penny of profit to a company like Amazon.
Tesco, Argos, the Apple store, Currys, any phone network, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis...
Several of these have next-day delivery, same-day collection, or even the old fashioned walk-into-shop-and-pay thing.
They used to have large paper catalogues to browse (or take home), but now I think it's computers.
You can order and pay using a terminal in the shop, from a phone app, or by asking the assistant. You get a paper receipt with a big number (presumably something similar on the app, which I haven't used) and wait at the back.
After 2-3 minutes, your order number appears on a screen at the back of the shop. You show the receipt to collect it.
The image in the article shows most of it. Behind the photographer is usually a display of a few things: toys, bicycles, watches etc.
Perhaps most of the reason they were honest early on was Amazon’s product selection early on was only books and media, and secondly there was a community where you could look at other people’s review history to determine if they were a shill and report it. That “community helpfulness” was common in early online communities. I’d say the majority of reviews were real through the mid-aughts.
It was only after the Amazon marketplace became indistinguishable from the main site that the scale of sellers flipped the incentive structure towards cheating.
Outside the realm of phones, I've also been burned on camera equipment. I ordered a Nikon 200-500mm telephoto lens a few years back, which was represented as sold by Nikon. It proved not to be - by its serial number, it was actually a gray-market item intended for the Chinese market. That wouldn't happen with a sale direct from the manufacturer, and it also totally invalidates the otherwise very good manufacturer's warranty. It's a great copy of the lens and of new enough manufacture to have got past the teething problems, so I kept it. But that was the last time I bought something that pricey on Amazon, too.
Nikon's policies are what they are, and have been that way for longer than I've been alive. They're not what I have a problem with here. Amazon is, and at this point I'd only even consider doing business with them on similar terms to what you describe - small-ticket stuff that I don't really care if it's not what the seller claims it is.
But then, on the other hand, that leaves Amazon with no point for me at all. In the months since I placed my last order there, I've found small business e-commerce to be alive and thriving, and you know what? It turns out that when you place an order with Spice Place or Betty Mills or B&H or Adorama or whoever, yeah it takes a little longer to show up, but also what's in the box will reliably be what you bought! Wild, right? Even books, now, I get from Indiebound, or Ebay for obscure out-of-print stuff that's hard to find from regular booksellers. And for the basic staples of living, there are plain old regular stores. You can just walk into buildings and buy food and tools and things! You don't have to wait for anyone.
At this point, I'm about two-thirds seriously convinced that the whole Prime experience with next-day delivery is as harmful to the customer as it is to the drivers and to the neighborhoods increasingly choked with navy-blue panel vans. I know it exerted an unhealthy hold over my thinking for a lot longer than I'd have preferred in retrospect. It remains wild to me that Amazon found a way to make small-business ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail look more appealing than itself, but they've certainly done a solid job of it, and I hope they keep it up.
Most people are well meaning and as long as the site isn't flooded with fakes it can work ok.
When you combine the actually bad people with those people, isn't 30-40% of the population constantly fucking with the system?
See also: Democracy. App store reviews. The soundscape. Climate change. Etc.
Incidentally I use argos.co.uk a bit and have found the reviews there always ok so far. Maybe Argos polices it or that crowd doesn't bother faking? It's different from Amazon in that there are no independent sellers so the only people motivated to fake would be the manufacturers.
We shouldn't. And indeed, if you look at a random legitimate review of something it's unlikely to be particularly helpful. More users does not make the data better beyond maybe "was it dead on arrival?".
Platforms should empower users to build rings of trust with users they do trust, while keeping it as private as they're comfortable being. People will build social capital because it's useful, it's fun and for the top 0.01% of users is something that can be a job.
I do write/have written reviews, incl. tear down pictures for some products as I'd be happy if I find similar approach/reviews.
Normally I read only 3 and 4 star reviews, or the ones that have disassembly pictures and seem to have been written by coherent people. It's a slow process, unfortunately but it does help with selection.
EU (and the UK) have 2y of mandatory warranty and 2weeks free returns, so the fake reviews are not so prominent.
This perhaps explains the rest of your comment :-) Often in economic theory it's assumed that people are totally rational, and often rationality is assumed to include sociopathic levels of self interest. Daniel Kahneman, the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, uses the word "econ" to describe the mythical creature that statisfies these properties. He makes the point that most people are not econs to some lesser or greater extent (either because they don't fully act in their own self interest or otherwise don't act fully "rationally" in the economic theory sense).
I often leave online reviews because I feel it's the right thing to do, even if I personally don't benefit from them. In part, I feel like they're payment for reviews others have left which I've used, even though an econ wouldn't bother because those other reviews would exist regardless of my "payment".
I do get your point towards the end of your comment that it's easy enough to come up with fake reviews, either by paying some econ-ish people or just using a machine. I'm talking more about the earlier point about recommendation from your neighbour only being reliable because of the consequences of a poor review.
Negative reviews are the only actual reviews.
"It is economically infeasible for people to be helpful!" - the last human on earth, probably.
You'll do well. Keep the blinders on, read your Ayn Rand, don't think about things too much. Greed is good.
People who are familiar with phone scam baiting will recognize this as a standard scam tactics. First go for the technical play and then emotional one. They can't scream on text so they don't jump to the angry one.
Four days in a row i was told by different customer support reps that the voucher will be cancelled in a few minutes (oddly enough i couldnt cancel it myself), and none actually did it all the while amazon tried charging my card and asking to update payment details. Since then, around 2 months ago, i stopped buying on amazon all together.
Oddly enough i usually get a notification when i login from a new device, but this time i didnt even tho the voucher was bought by someone in Panama (not sure if they used a real name or not but they sure weren't logging in from my device).
Unfortunately it seems you can no longer filter search results by "Sold and Shipped by Amazon", you have to filter by "Available from Amazon Prime/free shipping" and then filter manually which is a pain.
I've actually had better luck with 3rd Party sellers that ship on their own (not from an Amazon Warehouse). If they send you a counterfeit, their store reputation is going to take a hit. Though at this point, eBay might be a better option.
Lately, I've started buying direct from the manufacturer when possible, or shipped from B&M store. Their prices are the same, or better.
I didn't know they used to have that filter though. That would be super useful to make a comeback
The space heater in question had a very high rating. Now I know why.
- If somethings doesn't benefit Amazon, it's abuse.
Their double standards are disgusting.
The question is - what are you going to do with that information?
Wire it into a neural net, don't make it a way to snipe competitors products.
ok, ok... probably not a realistic solution.
I've left a few reviews recently and one good thing I have noticed is they seem to be adding some checks (I think they're intentional).
Like you review a product and it says "overall rating 1-5" but below it will have subcategories like maybe "true to size 1-5" "value 1-5" or similar (can't recall the real ones).
Every once in a while they throw in a curveball like "warmth 1-5" which would make sense for a sweater but is nonsense for something like a plate or ssd. I just press [X] and figure it's a check for a fake reviewer. (either that or a fake reviewer added a nonsense category)
1. Add a way to report solicitations for fake reviews. Ban companies that pay for fake reviews for a year and all their reviews above 3 stars are removed. Customers who report requests for fake reviews are given a small bonus; maybe a $5 credit or something.
2. Amazon themselves pretend to be sellers and solicit fake reviews from customers. If a customer reports the request for a fake review, they're given the same bonus but told that they were part of a sting operation. If the customer gives the fake review, they're banned from Amazon for a year, and all their reviews are removed.
Obviously some details need to be worked out: need to make sure the system can't be abused, need to make sure the fake review solicitation doesn't make real sellers look bad. But if done properly, ti should make the whole fake-review solicitation completely impractical.
Actually, I think so is creating a new company to sell stuff on Amazon. Mind you, if your company is kicked off Marketplace, it has to rebuild its reputation and inventory and stuff.
But yeah, they should definitely mark companies that pay for reviews as dodgy. I don't think they would ban them - because ANYONE selling stuff on Amazon is earning them money - but they could do more.
I don't think the problem hurts Amazon enough though. It's not like people stop using Amazon because of bad reviews. And I'm sure Amazon is undercutting the market so that any competitor with good reviews is unable to compete.
Price beats everything, when it comes down to it.
Creating a new credit card isn't.
Amazon had 21$ billion income ( per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_(company) ).
50 people is nothing for them, and it is basically ignoring problem.
Also, can you provide evidence that they have any people working on the problem?
I'm sorry, but I don't believe your statement. They're not doing enough about fake reviews, and definitely aren't doing enough about poor quality products, fake products, and poor products squatting over good / brand products. Their marketplace is not curated enough, and buying a product is a gamble.
There are a few posts about that; one I remember is that someone bought a book off Amazon, but got a fake / copy / low quality reproduction instead.
"Amazon considers that unimportant and refuses to pay competitive wages"
Amazon had 21$ billion income in 2020, it is not a tiny company struggling for resources. ( per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_(company) )
Amazon could clean this up and then watch the average drop. From the removal of the fake fives but also it makes it look more "socially accpetable" to leave 4 and 3 star reviews. So it costs Amazon to do the right thing by the people parting with money for stuff so they don't.
Amazon are well aware of /their/ incentives and when their incentives align with what looks to me a lot like fraud they'll play the plausibly deny game.
Or perhaps I'm wrong they don't know and there's nothing they can do. Amazon employees will probably confirm that.
We definitely spend less at Amazon because of lack of trust and counterfeit concerns, and it seems directionally true for the HN crowd. That's got to be a worry for anyone at Amazon - if the people who were early adopters are starting to leave your platform, that's got to be concerning...
I was looking for some L plates for my car. A lot of reviews called them “beautiful”... it is a white square with a letter L that sticks to your car... trying to find one which didn’t fall off or damage the car was far from trivial. Fortunately newer reviews mentioned damage or falling off or does the job which gave some steer.
I have been purposefully shopping elsewhere recently. Other sites are usually cheaper and there is less doubt about what is actually going to get received.
So now it's not safe to buy SD cards and USB sticks directly from Amazon either now
(I get mine from Micro Center. Kinda feel bad about not going to my local camera store, but the guy who owns the place doesn't really seem at home with technology. I don't even know if they carry UHS-II cards, but I get all my used gear there, and with the margin on that stuff it's not like I'm hurting them by getting a $80 SD card elsewhere...)
amazon might be OK with people going to a different place for brand name goods but continue to buy low cost, no-brand goods from amazon if that market is much larger.
What I've been ALWAYS wondering when people say such things:
Did you seriously get them when buying from Amazon itself as vendor or are you conveniently leaving out the fact that you bought from some random company which uses the Amazon marketplace?
Because I really cannot believe that something as big as Amazon would be dumb enough to sell counterfeit goods under their own name, and people usually don't mention if they bought from Amazon or not when they say such things.
Does it matter ? I go to amazon.com, I give my money to Amazon, I receive a package from Amazon, so for me (and the average user) the one selling me a counterfeit is Amazon.
The marketplace thing only kinda works if you have "dedicated" or "focused" or "themed" sellers that functioning within clearly defined niches/segments. Instead, you get a seller that randomly sells 15 kitchen towels, 3 garden ceramics, 50 woodwork jigs (really only 5, 50 variations), and 1 food product. Next thing you know, I'm searching through 50 pages of "school supplies".
As a buyer you have no control over this and Amazon does their best to be opaque and not allow buyers to publicly flag issues beyond a return and refund because it would reflect poorly on Amazon's image and make them look like peddlers of cheap knockoffs.
If you can't do the due diligence of even reading the one word that declares from whom you're buying then yes, it matters, it is your fault to be that careless.
I'm buying from Amazon. From my point of view the other company is not more than a supplier.
If I am the one at fault is not really the point. I will learn my lesson and shop elsewhere, in the end it is Amazon that suffers: if I shop from a big brand's website I expect them to be the ones to do the job of filtering out the crap, not me.
(And this is not even taking into account the issues of amazon commingling the inventory and not fighting properly the fake reviews)
But things I won’t buy on Amazon are SD cards or water filters for my fridge. You end up paying full price for a cheap knockoff. I’m sure there are others, but these two stand out in my mind.
That way I don't have to go through the horrendous amazon interface, which I have the impression tries to actively prevent you from finding what you want. Similar to the strategy of large supermarkets that rearrange goods to maximize customer time at the shop.
It's also worth nothing that European Amazon has waaaay less stuff available in general than US Amazon.
> Steve can't normally afford nice things, but he saves up to buy a nice coffee maker on Amazon, paying close to $100 and expecting to receive a product that will last decades. However, Steve receives a counterfeit product in the mail that breaks just a few days after the return window.
With most of these products, you're paying full price but getting an inferior product in return.
I am very wary of buying anything electrical on Amazon.
I carefully check reviews, use fakespot, etc.
There is a point where the eroding of trust will be significant enough to affect the bottom line. Eventually most people know to not trust Amazon reviews, soon it will be.
I didn’t want to buy a toilet cleaner that would fall apart and make me fish it out of the toilet, so we went and got them from Target instead.
Both marketplace types are useful (especially for books), but consumer goods need some kind of notice when you're buying from anyone other than Amazon.
It's not always "Nike" or some big brand, often it's smaller brands who have built up a reputation but don't have the legal team to fight with Amazon and protect their product from pirates.
My brother was gifted some magnets (strong like bull).
He wanted more, so Amazon had them. They’re not that expensive, but they fell apart. My brother contact the business owner and sent some pictures.
They were counterfeit..
They small business owner sent my brother new ones though, which was nice of him.
Order directly when you can.
It might cost more in shipping and delivery time, but it's strongly preferable to having my desk catch fire due to missing or defective safety components, which are very common among knockoffs. At least there's someone to sue if that happens with an authentic battery.
If you can run a shopify site as part of a known brand that helps of course.
I last (foolishly) tried again a few weeks ago for some SR44 cells. Should be easy, right? Nope, after digging into scores of bogus products and reviews, Fakespot, etc., it was just obvious that there are zero trustworthy products in that category. I found another battery specialist supplier, even tho they had a bit longer lead time and no free shipping.
(and don't even get me started on Amazon's lame search and sorting functions)
It's hard to attribute the lame search and sorting to incompetence at this point, it's starting to seem more like active malice.
On the batteries, even the common 18650 is a hopeless cause, at least if we want to get a battery that is what it claims.
A long time ago, it was useful to sort by average review, but now, I need to look at summing the percentage of 1+2-star reviews, and eliminating the high scores, then among the least-bad, check those for bad reviews (e.g., shipping failure, not the vendor's fault, etc.).
It has become a massive chore to use Amazon and hope to get something that is not crap, so evidently, the management there is optimizing for quantities of crap over quality.
Pick out a few random words here: https://www.randomlists.com/random-words . Put those few random words into Amazon's search bar and then order the list from most to least expensive. Then scroll down a bit. This should give you a pretty good selection of a random set of 'real' items. Do this, say, 3-4 times to get ~10 random items not influenced by your search history (presumably). Open them up in new tabs for easier organization. Now, go into a few of those items and try to say that they are 100% not 'fraudulent'.
How many could you get through before you gave up in frustration? Personally I got to about 5 before I gave up trying to determine if they were junk or not.
I wonder if anyone is deliberately paying for bad reviews of their competitors' products?
It would be interesting to know how often this happens compared to buying the 5 star reviews. My guess would be that the fake negative reviews for competitors are less than 10% of the total fake reviews.
If they sorted this out and the average reviews started to drop, they could very easily adjust this algorithm and never tell anyone and they’d be fine. I don’t think this is the problem
Do they? It's not immediately clear that an Amazon where the average item has 4.7 stars would sell more stuff than an Amazon where the average is 4.2 stars. Consumers mostly compare items against others on the same site and it's possible that all grade inflation does is make the top performing items harder to separate out and makes buying harder.
As a counterpoint, Uber suffers from ridiculous grade inflation and it doesn't appear to have made riders love them any more. It's simply resulted in everyone adapting to 5 = slightly above average, 4.9 = average, 4.8 = run away screaming.
Just out of curiosity from someone who doesn't use Uber, is this an exaggeration or meant pretty much literally? (Not with regard to running away screaming... but is 4.8 genuinely a terrible score?)
(citation is dead - not sure where Uber keeps this info now and is it even public)
Another quote from that:
"If your average rating falls below a 4.3 after your first 25 trips, your profile will be deactivated and you will need to take a quality improvement course in order to be considered for reactivation."
I find that especially annoying because I don't want to be entertained. I want to get from point A to point B while minding my own business (looking through the window if I'm in a new city or reading something on my phone if not). I don't want to hear about the driver's cryptocurrency adventures, and I don't want them to apologise to me if some other driver cuts them off or something.
Of course I'm gonna give them five stars regardless because I know how ride shares work.
They deleted my negative review of the Kindle with no explanation or recourse.
Since maybe November, a couple of things I've ordered (shipped and sold by Amazon) were listed as new but were very clearly used. One of these items was a piece of safety-critical equipment that was dangerously damaged and could very likely have caused death or dismemberment if someone with less experience had received the item and tried to use it. I assume some clueless Amazon warehouse worker eyeballs returns and tries to figure out if they can plausibly trick the customer into thinking it's a new item, and if so they put it back up for sale as "new".
There. Problem solved.
This is, of course, in addition to other issues with removing reviews, such as lacking nuance on why something was returned, etc. I've seen some stellar reviews on Amazon that went out of their way to list the minutiae of a product and the experience of using it, and that's helped me out a lot in the past.
High quality, curated, independent reviews is probably something that most people would enjoy and appreciate.
That said, the current system is fairly worthless, and what little worth it has is based on hacking it by looking at a specific subset of reviews.
It’s funny because Amazon normalized folks needing reviews on things before buying it.
That's what we have done at the marketplace I'm running in the UK. There are no seller ratings and users are encouraged to share feedback.
Should just be thumbs up, thumbs down. Maybe a "meh" in between.
Alternatively, ask for ratings as 5 star, treat 4 as a meh, and anything 3 or below as a thumbs down.
Product has <huge major flaw>. 4 stars.
Product was a slightly different shade than the picture. 1 star
Google's "does this place offer wifi?" type questions seem better than reviews
"Product was awesome, but shipping took three days, not one".
There are other reviews I've found useful, for example ones that point out minor flaws. That ability would be lost if you had a simple "good/bad" reaction only.
Nice people who want to help others out, and angry people who want their money back.
Over the last 5-10 years, Amazon's main shopping website seems to have gone from a reasonably reputable location to an internet cesspool to rival ebay or craigslist.
For example, looking for an item one is presented with a wide variety of almost identical products from a wide variety of almost identical, completely unknown brands, with no trust or confidence in any of them.
Now obviously, these brands/products are most likely nothing to do with Amazon, they're just using Amazon as their storefront, and sometimes fulfilment, but it still reflects upon Amazon, and ultimately taints their brand with the same brush.
Maybe Amazon makes more money in this way, by taking a cut of this flow through various service fees, but for me it makes Amazon less useful to go to when I don't know exactly what I want already, and more often pushes me to go direct to a more trusted source.
Half the time the manufacturer themselves are selling directly on ebay!
To list your product on Amazon as a seller, you pay $500 per year as a "review incentivization fee." The algorithm randomly selects buyers and emails them 1 month after their purchase. They are offered $10 to write a review. The chance of being randomly selected as a reviewer auto-adjusts to target a goal of 50 reviews per year, and no one except those people is allowed to post reviews. Also, reviewers can update their reviews later if their impression of the product changes.
If a seller wanted to keep farming reviews, they would now have to buy up the vast majority of their own inventory in the hopes of being selected. Also, my system prevents people who are experiencing one-in-a-million problems (or who are just habitually disgruntled) from dominating the conversation.
This method would just increase that. "We'll pay you $100 if you get chosen and write us a 5-star review" would be a reasonable offer for both buyer and seller.
But you're right, I think that's a legitimate issue. I'm not saying my plan is perfect, but I'm pretty sure it improves on the status quo.
Way too short time for almost anything that's not a direct consumable.
>They are offered $10 to write a review.
That's too low (or too low depending on the product), negative experience is a lot more likely to be vented.
The problem the star average is used as the only proxy for quality. Even without fake reviews it's completely meaningless since different people like different things (relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/937/).
When I buy things I look at what people complain about when they dislike the product. Is this electronic badly grounded and gave you an electric shock? I'll look somewhere else. Did you give this gay bar a 1-star review because they didn't let you in with the rest of your hen party? Awesome!
> If a seller wanted to keep farming reviews, they would now have to buy up the vast majority of their own inventory in the hopes of being selected.
They already have 100 people buy their product and fully pay for it for a review.
Sellers are currently paying people (in money and product) for 5 star reviews, which is exactly the problem I'm trying to solve.
Your system may have minor chance of success if there was no way for the sellers to contact customers.
It's not just store reviews that are broken - web search is also completely broken because of affiliate spam
I spent far too much time at the moment with each purchase researching and tracking down trusted reviews.
The real action is 3 star reviews. Those people have really given a lot of thought to the review.
Also the reviews with pictures tend to be useful.
That's presumably why they said "read" the negative reviews. Obviously you don't then base your decision off negative reviews that turn out to not matter.
Recent example, shredders all have great 5 star reviews but only the odd negative will point out the obvious problem that cheap shredders are made cheaply and will break in a short space of time.
EDIT: NextDesk scandal aside, when was the last time you saw WireCutter recommend a product that did NOT offer affiliate commissions (let’s just call a spade a spade: these are kickbacks).
I don’t use WC anymore so I can’t answer that myself. I stopped using them when I saw some companies completely ignored in 2 different industries with which I’m familiar. Those companies did not have kickbacks.
I guess the paid alternative is consumer reports, but I feel like they’re not noticeably better.
I am sure there are plenty of honest reviews on the internet, tucked into enthusiast sites or on personal blogs. It's hard to find them unless you're a member of their community. Unless they review a lot of products, you have no continued relationship with them. This means you can't evaluate your opinion of their reviews (as to trustworthiness, or even just taste).
Surely anyone who devotes a lot of time and money to reviewing products is going to want to be (and deserves to be) paid. That means direct payment has to come from the customer, or the business.
The "business pays" model has an incentive to exclude businesses that don't pay, to push you towards more expensive items, and in general to get you to buy shit you don't need. But at least the reviewer has some skin in the game, since you won't continue to buy through their referral links if they recommend too many products that are too bad.
The "customer pays" model seems to solve a lot of the incentive problems, but it's always hard to get people to pay for something that others are giving out for free (even if the free ones are occasionally subpar or even harmful!)
Ultimately, I'm not really sure I see "buyer pays" review sites as terribly unfair? Surely they'll just pass the cost on to customers. Some of the businesses, like NextDesk, seem to find the process unfair. I have some sympathy for them, but the reality is that the products I've bought based on Wirecutter recommendations tend to be better. I don't have the time, or even the ability these days, to pick through search results trying to figure it out for myself.
Maybe I will give Consumer Reports a try, but is the cost of the subscription (of which I don't know the utility), and the lock-in, worth the marginal cost of missing out on great products like NextDesk? Does Consumer Reports even give more complete surveys of options than Wirecutter? Hard to say. I think I would go insane if I spent any more time than I already do looking for "truth" on the internet.
Their reviews are more trustable than from a regular affiliate site but a lot of products score quite well despite being mediocre at best.
The biggest flaw I see is their product selection process, it always involves looking at the amazon top sellers. Those are usually filled with astroturfed, paid and bribed reviews.
I don't mind spending the time researching things because the frustration of owning something that isn't up to usually snuff costs more time, grief and money.
All that being said, here are a few sources I still respect:
* Appliances: Consumer Reports
* Kitchenware: America's Test Kitchen
* Hardware: Project Farm (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2rzsm1Qi6N1X-wuOg_p0Ng/vid...)
* TVs/Monitors/Audio: (https://www.rtings.com)
* Gym Equipment: GarageGymReviews (https://www.garagegymreviews.com)
* Laptops: (http://www.notebookreview.com)
There's a good chance that the items you're most ignorant about are also the items your friends are most ignorant about (or at least enough of them that it'll significantly reduce the quantity of the feedback).
Also, once this became a thing, once it became monetizable, my web of trust would shrink drastically. I mean, geez, I'm even suspicious of my doctors prescriptions.
Maybe we need professional reviewers with a transparent system in place to protect against manipulation (as much as possible). Something like Consumer Reports on a larger scale.
Since Amazon is not providing this, one example of a place to shop is Costco in person. Things sold by Costco are generally reliable enough. On top of that, Costco has a generous return policy so I can buy whatever I need. If it was truly unusable/broken, I can return it easily.
Anything over £100, I tend to default to John Lewis rather than amazon.