Unethical Amazon Reviews

Imagine you bought an item from Amazon.com and upon opening the item, you found a note that said:  “We take pride in our products, and encourage you to write a review on Amazon.com. In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free.”

This is exactly what a lot of customers did who purchase a Kindle cover from a merchant called VIP Deals, according to The New York Times.

As someone who spends thousands of dollars on Amazon.com annually, this is unnerving news. I read product reviews carefully before buying a product, but how can I be certain that what I am reading are genuine reviews? As the Times article notes, this is a major issue for Amazon, and there are researchers out there who are trying to devise mathematical models to systematically unmask the bogus endorsements.

So what’s worked for me? I don’t just look at the average reviews for a product, but choose to filter the reviews by star rating. In particular, reading the 3-star and 1-star reviews is often a better indicator for me to NOT buy a product, even if the average review is 4-stars or more. In fact, I’d be wary of purchasing a product if you only see 4 or 5 star reviews (my theory is that by law of large numbers, you’d expect to see at least a small percentage of 1 or 2 star reviews). And you’d be surprised how many compelling and well-reasoned 1-star reviews exist.

2 thoughts on “Unethical Amazon Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s