Amazon shares are little changed shortly after the open Monday, amid news in the UK that an investigation has uncovered fake reviews remain prevalent on the tech giant’s etail site. UK consumer protection group Which?, found that merchants regularly paid users to write 5-star reviews, even if their product wasn’t actually a 5-star item.
After opening in the green, by 1455 BST, Amazon shares were 0.04% lower at $1,763.32. The stock has been trending broadly lower, in recent weeks.
Amazon fake reviews
UK consumer group Which? conducted an investigation into whether or not some of the reviews accompanying items for sale on Amazon’s site, were supported by fake reviews. It found that was indeed the case.
Which? created new accounts on Amazon and Facebook and discovered several Facebook groups, with names like Amazon Deals Group and Amazon UK Reviewers.
“On these groups, sellers offer their products ‘free’ or at discounted rates, in exchange for Amazon reviews. In some cases they also offer financial incentives for reviews,” Which? said in its report.
The Which? investigator then contacted the groups and was offered products from five users, in return for a 5-star review. Each user asked the Which? investigator to make the purchase of the items through Amazon.
Some gave them instructions to make it look as though it was indeed, a ‘real’ purchase, by searching as you would normally, with a key word and browsing through a few different options. A refund via PayPal for the purchase price of the item was offered, as well as additional financial incentives, from some of them.
After discovering that fake reviews are very much a part of retailers’ marketing plans, Which? contacted Amazon with the results of its findings.
“Our goal is to make reviews as useful as possible for customers,” Amazon told Which?
“We do not permit reviews in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment. Customers and sellers must follow our review guidelines, and those that don’t will be subject to action including potential termination of their account,” it said.