12/01/2018

Are the Reviews on Amazon India Real? Growing Danger!

There's been a massive up-tick in the number of fraud reviews and the fake review problem is now worse than ever.


Sites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, Airbnb etc, have become highly successful based on the trust created by their review systems. In order to boost sales, few sellers on Amazon now either opt to purchase reviews or offer free samples in exchange for “honest” review. This has deeply skewed the rating system thereby creating artificially inflated product ratings.

What are fake reviews? 

Reviews posted either by company's employees themselves or by anyone with a vested interest in selling more products or by some competitor trying to bring down the product sales.
  •  Had the review been written by a friend, the review body may contain descriptions like wonderful, value for money, suits everyone etc., and the reviewer may insinuate that they're also planning to purchase it for someone they know.
  •  If the review had been written by an enemy, the product may contain crude descriptions like pathetic, poor, or a waste of money. The reviewer may recommend an alternate product ("has more credibility") that they liked better.

Rampant Fake reviews

All promised efforts by Amazon, to start tracking and removing incentivized reviews posted in exchange for free or discounted products, have sent the problem underground. Fake reviews are still rampant, but are now harder to detect. The above picture is a snapshot of an offer issued to me by an Amazon seller.

My case
I received this offer when I purchased a ladies backpack after thoroughly checking the review(Verified) ratings. Needless to say, the backpack was faulty. Now I highly doubt the credibility of all 5 star ratings given to the product because of this offer announcement, that came neatly folded inside the Amazon packaging.
Here comes my question - Does Amazon support this?
  • If Yes, how can we expect a honest rating from someone who reviews purely for the purpose of getting the Cashback? 
  • If No, how come this product package was not suspected to Amazon quality checks(Prime product)? 
I raised the same question to Amazon support team and got a reply that my report has been elevated to the concerned department and that my refund can be issued if needed. Yes, I definitely need my refund. Shouldn't the actions taken after my report be transparent? Amazon.in should definitely see to that.

How to spot a Fake review?

This incident led me to research about ways to spot a fake review. Being a shopaholic, this is essential to me and it would be useful to other online shopping addicts I guess. So here is what I gathered,

1. Check review tool 

Make use of sites like Reviewmeta.com and Fakespot.com analyze reviews for any product listed on shopping platforms and give a rating for the reviews authenticity. Read reputable review websites.

2. Analyze reviews balance 

If a product is exceptionally good/exceedingly bad, the product ratings are nearly exclusively either one star/five stars. A best product generally has a healthy mix of 5 and 4 star reviews, with some 3 stars thrown in.

3. Trust middle reviews 

If the product is generally good, the ratings might have a bell-shaped curve. This is mainly because "One cannot please everyone".  Generally disregard the highest and lowest ratings. Mostly see what people in the middle have to say. This should give you a more accurate assessment of the product.

Help fellow consumers

Report suspicious reviews

Take a look at the suspect's - One 🌟 reviews. If a review includes spam/offensive language contrary to Amazon.com's review policies, please click the link to "Report Abuse" (near "Was this review helpful to you?"). This allows us to "Report this content as inappropriate". Do include the reason for your suspicion. This will help Amazon staff to evaluate the concerned review and take appropriate action.

Apply critical thinking

Whether or not you share a reviewer's opinions of the product, consider it, especially if the review is thoughtful and well-written. Even people who disagree with you may have valid points. Those reviews definitely warrant a "Helpful" click.

Leave helpful feedback 

Your feedback about a particular review can help others who are reading reviews. If you decide that a review is helpful, find the line nearby that reads "Was this review helpful to you?" Click "Yes."  If you decide that the review may have a hidden agenda, click "No". This action of yours can help either raise/lower that review's status.

The verdict of an Online addict(myself) - Please don't blindly believe anything/everything you see online. Kindly use your analytical mind - Be it your shopping spree on Amazon or simple time pass of surfing the internet.