• ISMA Global

Perks for Positive Reviews on Amazon

UK/ Australia update.

Customer reviews and ratings are considered as a buyer’s guide and means of quality assurance by most of us while shopping online. Recent investigations by media shed light on the unscrupulous ways of reviewers making lucrative benefits by posting fake reviews, which put many customers in utter bewilderment.

Paid-For Reviews

Following an investigation by the Financial Times in September 2020, Amazon removed approximately 20,000 customer reviews posted by their top 10 UK reviewers from their platform. It was found that users were posting fake reviews by giving 5-star ratings for low-quality products.

Justin Fryer was one among the top 10 reviewers of Amazon UK, who gave a 5-star rating for the products he reviewed. Surprisingly, those products were being sent to the reviewers by unknown Chinese companies for free in return for positive feedback. Many of those products, were seen in online groups and forums offered for free or for money in exchange of positive reviews. It was found later, that the same unopened goods reviewed by Fryer were listed on eBay the day after the review was written.

The company responded “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant,” adding that it will suspend and take legal action against people who violate its policies.

Amazon has clear community guidelines that prohibit “creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else”.

The only exception is the company’s “Vine” review programme, in which the top reviewers are sent free products. Vine is intended to provide honest reviews and unbiased feedback from Amazon's most trusted reviewers.

It is understood that Amazon turned a blind eye to the activity in Mr Fryer's account. In August 2020, one user of the site emailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about the ambiguous activity after his complaints had been ignored. Later he received an email by an Amazon employee saying "Jeff Bezos received your email".

In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has clear cut standards and policies to ensure fair trade in markets to benefit communities and businesses. According to the ACCC:

"Consumers rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. Businesses and review platforms need to manage online reviews to prevent consumers from being misled".

Businesses and review platforms that remove reviews that they know to be fake, risk breaching the Competition and Consumers Act 2010. If you think you have been misled, file a consumer complaint, and get proper legal advice.

In the current scenario, e-commerce giants like Amazon need to develop better policies that guarantee transparency in their platforms.

By Parvathy R. Unnithan

© ISMA - 2020

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