If you’re an Amazon shopper, you’ve probably come across some fake reviews. It’s not hard to spot them if you know what to look for, but unfortunately, many people don’t realize they’re being duped until it’s too late.
There are a few different types of fake reviews, but the most common are ones that are either written by someone who was paid, or received free product to write a positive review. In either case, the goal is the same: to artificially inflate the ratings and convince you to buy something that may not be worth your money. Alternatively, there is the dark world that include those who are paid, or have an interest in leaving fake bad reviews.
Why All the Fuss About Reviews?
Amazon is much more competitive than it was just 5 years ago. What are the top two thing buyers like you and I look at when comparing products on Amazon? Price and Reviews. A seller can lower the price but with the cost of advertising, at some point they could start to loose money. So reviews are where they invest their time and money. The more 5 star reviews, the more sales. Reviewers, on the other hand, earn free products or cash. Thus, the Marketplace for Fake Reviews is born. Likely overseas, companies sell positive reviews via social media groups. Sometimes products are bought, reviews are left, and the item is completely refunded so the “buyer” is not out a single dollar to buy said products. Not all fake reviews come from overseas though. Sellers have no shame in reaching out to real buyers to try to convince them to leave a 5 star review. And to be clear, asking for a review is not the crime, it’s asking – and offering something in exchange – for a positive review, that is against the rules. Personally, we’ve received emails and even old fashion snail-mailings requesting a 5 star review to be left in exchange for free products, or gift cards.
Conversely, with regard to negative reviews, there’s a marketplace for these too sadly. Companies can pay groups to leave negative feedback on a competitors product. And sometimes sellers approach legitimate reviewers and offer them cash, or product incentives to remove their negative feedback. As you can guess, all of this is against Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS). But it doesn’t slow down the fake-review-leaving machine.
So how can you spot a fake review? Here are a few red flags to watch out for:
1. The reviewer only has only left one or two 5 star reviews. (You can usually see this yourself by clicking on the name of the reviewer and follow it back to their review profile.)
If someone has only left 1-2 stellar reviews in their lifetime, it’s more likely that they’re fake. Profiles are usually created just to partake in this scheme so once they have done their duty, they usually dump the profile and move on to creating the next. I mean, we all buy online but if you are only moved once in your lifetime to leave a product review and it’s for a door stop, something smells fishy.
2. The review is unusually vague or with poor grammar.
A lot of times, fake reviews will be generic or short and sweet, without giving any real details about the product (i.e. “This is a good product”). Or my favorite is when the review comments sound like they might be for another product altogether (i.e. “Fits great!” for… a garlic press LOL), or in broken English. Remember, these groups are usually oversees so there’s usually an unavoidable language barrier. Sometimes the review might not make any sense at all because the job was sloppy, or they don’t understand the product.
3. The reviewer has a suspiciously high number of 5 star reviews.
If someone has written hundreds or even thousands of reviews, it’s a good bet that at least some of them are fake. This is especially true if the vast majority of their reviews are positive….or negative – look for patterns either way.
4. The reviewer is linked to the seller in some way.
This one is a bit harder to spot, but if you take a close look at the reviewer’s profile, you may be able to see that they’re connected to the seller in some way. For example, they may have the same name or be from the same city.
Fake reviews are usually in the form of 5 star or 1 star. If you really want to understand the ins and outs of a product, read the 2-4 stars. Therein lies the real value in reviews, and the honesty about the product in question.
If you see any of these signs, there’s a good chance the review is fake. Of course, this doesn’t mean that every single review with these characteristics is fake, but it’s definitely something to watch out for.
When in doubt, you can always do some additional research on the product before making a purchase. Look for unbiased reviews from sites that don’t allow sellers to post their own reviews, and see what other people are saying about it.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid being scammed by a fake review is to use your best judgment. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.