Amazon’s review scandal

by MaddOx
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When you go to purchase anything, whether it is online or in-store, you may check reviews first. Here at FULLSYNC, we pride ourselves on our reviews for both tech and games being written with our honest opinions. So, if something is bad, we’ll let you know, as well as why we think that and how it can be improved. But can you trust the reviews for items on Amazon?

Yes and no. Whilst many reviews will be from genuine people, there are thousands of products that are plied with fake reviews. How do I know this? I used to do it myself to an extent before my review account on Amazon was blocked. That is because doing so is against Amazon’s terms and conditions.

What is a fake Amazon review and how do they work?

Well, simply put, there are Amazon sellers who will give you free products in return for a review. Now most of the time, businesses will do this as part of product testing groups to learn about the product. And some Amazon sellers do this too. However, many Amazon sellers then demand a 5-star review.

They’ll also get you to purchase their item through Amazon, so it looks like a genuine sale, bumping their product up Amazon’s ranking system and showing “Verified Purchase” on your review. Once your review is live, the sellers then arrange to pay you back via PayPal, usually covering any PayPal fees, and sometimes giving you extra commission for including photos or videos.

But the problem isn’t with sending people free stuff to test out, it’s demanding they get a 5-star review when it may not necessarily be worth it. So when you see something that is always reviewed with top marks from a brand you have never heard of before from China, be wary. Sometimes people do end up buying them because this system works well for sellers, and that’s when poor quality reviews begin to crop up.

Personally, I always told sellers I would not do this. I’d only review honestly, to which many accepted, but would often ask me not to post anything if it was negative. On the odd occasion, I didn’t, if I was sent a replacement because the product was faulty, just so I could give it a second chance. But there were many sellers who refused me products because I wouldn’t lie for them.

But that’s not the only time fake reviews crop up too, as I’ve been approached in the past to also write bad reviews for other seller’s products. Claiming things like “clearly a knock-off’ or “extremely poor quality” to put people off buying it and to choose a competitor instead. I’ve also been asked to vote on reviews on other products as helpful or unhelpful to have similar effects too.

Many of these sellers operate on Facebook, with exclusive groups you have to join in order to get access. They operate across the globe, in the UK, the US and other European countries. But be wary, once you start, other sellers will seek you out and begin harassing you in your inbox to review their products too. Many are genuine and just looking to boost their sales figures. But there are also scammers out there too, who won’t waste two seconds to try and rip you off.

Facebook Amazon Reviewer Group - REVIEWERS CENTRAL UK

It really is a crazy system, but such a tempting one for people to join when they get stuff free. I’ve had lots of top tech from there such as power banks, a smartphone, projector and more, not to mention the other random bits and bobs like clothing and strapless bras (for the Mrs not for me, honest).

Not all product testing is for fake reviews

Amazon does have its own system set up for product testing as well, which they approve of because they don’t ask people for fake reviews. It was partly set up to combat the whole fake review scandal. They just want honest opinions about the items they are stocking. But to get onto their program is very difficult. And they’re not the only seller who have such programs, Tesco has their Tesco Home Panel, and other retailers have similar setups.

These types of programs are cropping up more and more due to the COVID-19 pandemic because companies need people to test their products for feedback. And due to people not being able to travel to testing sites much of it is now done online. There is a risk this way that people will just take free stuff and not review it, but then if they don’t do as required, they won’t be picked again.

It is worthwhile checking out some of these programs, because, who doesn’t love free stuff. From washing machines to fridge freezers, I’ve even seen people get free trips away. The only thing is if you’re going to get into this game, just be authentic, honest and helpful. Don’t lie and mislead people into thinking something is great, tell them the truth, but if you don’t like something, tell people why and how it could be improved upon. This way you’re genuinely helping people, rather than causing trouble.

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