Amazon withdrew about 20,000 product reviews for showing signs of being paid reviews. An investigation by the Financial Times revealed that little-known Chinese brands were rewarding users who submitted good grades for their products in the store.
Great British reviewers from Amazon sent out weird five-star reviews for products from unpopular Chinese brands. When investigated by the Financial Times, these products were found in Facebook groups and forums, where brands rewarded positive reviews with gifts or money.
After the discovery, Amazon withdrew 20,000 reviews of numerous products in its store. Subsequently, thousands of other assessments were sent and analyzed by American institutions – the University of Southern California (USC) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – and then removed when they were associated with more than 2,500 groups in forums and the Facebook.
From valuation to sale
One of the individuals responsible for the fake reviews is the renowned reviewer Justin Fryer, one of the highest rated consumers within Amazon UK. Contacted by the Finacial Times, Fryer denied receiving any reward for his assessments. When adding the values of the products with positive analyzes, the total would reach around US $ 20 thousand, ranging from decorative items, toys and notebooks.
Much of these well-rated products were found on an eBay account with his name and address, indicating that the boy might be selling products he recently purchased or being rewarded with the products after the evaluation. After contacting the reporting team, Fryer erased his rating history.
Bypassing the algorithm
Ensuring good reviews from consumers recognized by Amazon is one of the criteria valued by the store’s algorithm to prioritize the display of ads. The classification of products has great weight when determining the position of a product in a search, section, main page or in the much sought after “choice of Amazon” title.
Therefore, paid reviews have become an interesting alternative for smaller brands, even if it violates the platform’s standards. In 2019, Amazon has invested more than $ 500 million to end this system, but the problem seems far from over.