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Why we’ve had enough of fake reviews

Spotted a review that doesn’t look quite right? Does that product’s five-star rating just not stack up? Sign our petition to put a stop to fake reviews.

Earlier this year, we found sellers on online marketplaces and platforms confusing people by posting fake reviews to distort opinion about products and spread misinformation.

Despite telling marketplaces and platforms that there was a problem, it shows no signs of slowing down.

Well, we’ve had enough. Today, we’ve set up a petition calling for action on fake reviews.

We’ve found through several investigations that sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon are able cheat the system by overloading product listings with fake reviews.

This is the latest in a series of investigations that we have ongoing to uncover the scale of the problem.

The impact on spending

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) estimated that in 2015, around £23 billion of spending was the result of people reading reviews.

With the explosive growth of e-commerce in the last 4 years, it’s now estimated that figure is around £38 billion.

From our analysis and research, of those who believe they received a product of an inferior quality than they were expecting, the spend impacted by fake reviews is around £1.5 billion.

That is a huge amount of consumer spending that is hanging on information that might not be true, genuine or is at the very least outright distorted to present a false impression.

Taking action

Thankfully, the regulator has recognised that there is a problem, too. The CMA recently launched a programme of work aimed at tackling fake and misleading reviews.

As a first step, they told Facebook and eBay to cut them off at the source and remove groups and listings that were encouraging the sale and trade of fake reviews.

Facebook told us it had removed the groups we reported to it, while Amazon said that it invests significant resources to protect the integrity of its reviews.

We think more needs to be done. Online platforms know that this is a problem, but they’re not taking enough proactive steps to ensure that consumers are accessing relevant, correct information about the products they are viewing on their platforms.

We’ve been working undercover for the last year, finding out about what’s happening and how sellers are managing to post these reviews.

A lot of people don’t know that fake reviews exist – these are the people who are most at risk

We want you to join us and support the first steps of our work to stamp out fake reviews.

Have you ever been asked to write a fake review? How many do you think you’ve spotted? Let us know, and support our campaign.

Comments
Mark Jeffery says:
Today 16:43

I regularly hire cars from Zest car rental, who are very good. Most of my rentals are in Sofia, Bulgaria. They tend mainly to use one rental company there. But this summer a new one came recommended. I discovered they are the subsidiary of the other company. I checked their 5 star review (they were all 5star). They were all given on the same few days and everyone was a first time reviewer. Despite being at the airport they were all Bulgarian citizens. This is easy to spot. Not so easy to stop. SPOT, yes. STOP, no.

Vernon says:
Today 16:44

I understand Amazon gets fake reviews which are soul destroying when we fall victim.

I have to say that i search all reviews, and go for mainly prime products as they are under the amazon protection banner.

I order literally 4 x times per week from amazon over the last 4yrs and only had 3 x hickups so far?

I have had money back 2 of the 3 times and the third time was via third party seller who completely lied to me so £51 went down the drain. The fourth time was another third party seller and same happened there.

But amazon seem to be helpful…

Jon says:
Today 16:53

I recently looked for a item on Amazon. There were several different companies selling this type of item so i had a look at the reviews. I noticed that two of the items had 5 star reviews from ‘different’ reviewers but that the wording of the reviews was exactly the same, and I mean EXACTLY the same, even down to the strange placing of a comma between two words. I reported this to Amazon and also put on a 1 star review that warned people about it. Most of the reviews were obviously written by people who did not have English as a first language and all of them were 5 stars.

Bruce Dibben says:
Today 18:10

Well done all the Jons who contributed to WHICH. I am now too old to research and report and most grateful that through Which you are helping thousands of older and easier to trick folk, perhaps some of your own relatives.

D.Williams says:
Today 17:35

When looking for reviews of an item i am always suspicious if most of them direct me straight to Amazon.

Neville Singh says:
Today 17:47

It is difficult to assess a review if you are searching for an item for a long time and tend to believe reading whats in front of you and trying to decide which is fake false or genuine

Ron says:
Today 18:27

I regard sopping sites like Amazon & eBay as safe, serious & reliable, but have had growing concerns about too reviews for items unknown elsewhere. It has to be in the interests of these sites to take this seriously to protect the trust in their brands. If / when that is lost, it will be hard to recover.

Ray Stone says:
Today 18:31

Fake reviews are a real problem because you start to mistrust all of them including the genuine ones, no review is better than fake reviews.

John Ramsay says:
Today 18:31

Dealing with Amazon is bad news. We were recently ‘forwarded’ double the number of air conditioners ordered, of the wrong spec, very badly packed and billed by an agent. We’ll never use Amazon again.

Kay Souissi says:
Today 18:50

When I have tried to give a moderate review with less than 5 stars on amazon my review has not been accepted. Fake reviews are difficult to spot.

MARGARET AKANNI says:
Today 20:35

I bought a product and found out it wasn’t up to standard , seller insisted that i change my review in order to get my money back , i told the seller the review is my opinion and the truth, if i change it it will be misleading and telling a lie