Does the ‘Amazon’s Choice’ badge make you more likely to buy a product on Amazon? We’ve found that the endorsement can be gamed by unscrupulous sellers.
Whether it’s your vacuum cleaner conking out after years a service, a last-minute booking or a replacement pair of headphones, we’ve all gone online to search for a product we can trust.
But with the options out there today appearing almost infinite, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Getting a sense of other people’s experiences of a product can often seem the best place to start. And with the growth in online review sites, it’s never been easier to do so.
So when the platforms themselves step-in and start endorsing the products or services being sold or reviewed on their sites, surely then these can be trusted, saving people having to discern the fake reviews and dodge the shoddy products themselves?
Unfortunately, our latest investigation has shown that this isn’t the case.
What is ‘Amazon’s Choice’?
We found that Amazon, through its Choice endorsement, is recommending dozens of products that appear to have been artificially boosted by dodgy reviews, helping sellers dupe people into buying potentially poor quality goods through the site.
Amazon’s Choice claims to recommend “highly rated, well-priced products available to dispatch immediately”, so it’s no wonder that 45% of shoppers who notice the Choice logo said they were more likely to purchase a product from Amazon with the badge than without.
But our investigation uncovered seemingly brazen examples of people being incentivised to write positive reviews in return for free gifts or discounts.
For example, one review for the ‘bestselling’ Amazon’s Choice ANCwear Fitness Trackers Bluetooth Smart Watch included a photo posted by the customer of the card used to offer the incentive, with the review adding:
“Don’t believe the five-star reviews… only reason it is getting good reviews is the £15 bribe.”
Amazon must provide customers with a fuller explanation of how the Choice badge is awarded so customers can make better-informed buying decisions.
We’re also calling on the CMA to urgently investigate the way in which fake reviews and endorsements awarded by online platforms are potentially misleading people, following its recent intervention to crackdown on the trading of fake reviews.
In the meantime, we’d be really keen to hear from you about how reviews and endorsements influence your buying decisions.
Have you spotted a product or service on an online platform with an endorsement that you think benefited from fake reviews?
Have you been offered incentives in return for writing a positive review or removing a negative one?
Have you seen products or services listed online that you think have fake reviews?
If you’re unsure about whether to trust the reviews you’re reading, you can find our tips for spotting fake reviews here.