What if those glowing customer reviews we see aren’t honest or impartial, or don’t reflect the person’s true experience? This is the world of fake reviews.
In 2018, we went undercover to find out whether shoppers are right to be putting their trust in customer reviews on sites such as Amazon. We found:
⚠ A network of Facebook groups set up to reimburse shoppers for Amazon purchases in exchange for positive reviews. Just seven of these groups had more than 87,000 members
⚠ Sellers demanding a high or five-star rating in return for a refund on their purchase
⚠ Refusal to reimburse costs when ‘honest’ reviews were posted
We set up a dedicated account on Amazon, Facebook and PayPal to join Facebook groups such as Amazon Deals Group and Amazon UK Reviewers. You can find out more about our investigation and findings by reading the facts about fake reviews.
So what’s the problem?
Fake reviews can artificially inflate ratings, as well as how high up the product appears in searches, and can mislead customers in to buying poor-quality devices.
In our 2018 survey 97% of members of the public told us they use customer reviews when researching a product, and 31% of people told us they had bought a product because of excellent customer scores and had been disappointed.
How to spot a fake review
If you’re concerned about fake reviews, consider the steps below to avoid falling for them, and potentially making a purchase you’ll regret:
ℹ Don’t get star-struck – go beyond the top ratings and read the written reviews
ℹ Do the reviews sound natural? Are they very long or very short? Are there repetitive phrases within or between reviews?
ℹ Check the dates – if a lot of reviews are clustered together in a short time period, it might indicate a push for positive reviews via Facebook groups
ℹ Overly positive reviewers – click on the reviewer’s username to see what else they’ve reviewed, and how they’ve rated it
ℹ Polarising reviews – if the reviews are mostly five stars or one star then it’s a warning sign – it’s unlikely that people would consistently have such different experiences with a product
Do you feel confident spotting fake reviews? What tips and tricks do you use, and what sorts of things might make you feel suspicious?
Have you ever bought a product as a result of a customer review, only to run into serious problems?
We’re also keen to know if you’ve been asked to leave a positive review when you’ve purchased a product – especially if you’ve been offered an incentive for doing so.
Let us know in the comments below.