False reviews about little-known technical brands and products, made a lot in China, push up customer searches and choices on Amazon, it is claimed.
An investigation by Which? many products found that do not include a report of success or an independent review carry five-star customer reviews, which could mislead customers to waste their money.
The consumer group has checked hundreds of technical products in 14 popular categories, including headphones, dashcams, fitness trackers and smartwatches, and has checked for signs of suspicious reviews.
False reviews about little-known technical brands and products, made a lot in China, push up customer searches and choices on Amazon, it is claimed. Stock image
The research found that headphones, smart watches and fitness trackers are common products that receive false reviews.
It appeared that the top rated items were dominated by unknown brands with names such as ITSHINY, Vogek and Aitalk, who in many cases had thousands of unverified assessments, with no evidence that the person had purchased or used the product.
The evidence suggests that Amazon & # 39; s efforts to protect customers by erasing false or misleading reviews are not effective.
About 97 percent of customers use online customer reviews to make a purchase. This means that counterfeits are a serious problem because customers are being misled into buying bad products.
The Competition and Markets Authority has expressed the fear that misleading assessments can shift consumer spending worth £ 23 billion per year in everything from household products to hotels and restaurants.
Natalie Hitchins from what? said: & # 39; Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle with fake reviews with shoppers bombarded by dubious comments aimed at artificially stimulating products from unknown brands.
& # 39; Amazon needs to do more to clean its websites from unreliable and false reviews to maintain the trust of its millions of customers.
& # 39; To prevent you from being misled and possibly buying a blind product, customers should always make reviews with a pinch of salt and look at independent and reliable sources when researching a purchase. & # 39;
Which? researchers discovered that many products had a suspiciously high number of five-star ratings that were dumped on Amazon's review page in a short period of time, meaning a red flag suggesting that the ratings are fake.
For example, a search for headphones based on customer reviews and reviews was crowned by unknown brands, with nearly nine out of more than 12,000 reviews coming from unverified buyers.
Seven out of ten suspected perfect five-star reviewers and, even in some cases, reviews for non-related products such as soap dispensers.
One headset, by the unknown Celebrat, had 439 reviews that were all five-star, all unverified and all arrived on the same day.
Which? shared his findings with review experts ReviewMeta, who concluded that every five-star unverified review of the top ten headphones was fake.
A ReviewMeta spokesperson said: & I am shocked. We have seen this so much on Amazon. It seems so obvious and easy to prevent. & # 39;
An investigation into the authenticity of one of the unknown brands of headphones, Cquang, suggested that it hardly seemed to exist.
For example, the company did not seem to be based on the address of the alleged head office. This was repeated for many of the other unknown brands.
What are the names of the five unknown companies that are marked by Which?
An analysis of smart watches showed that each device on the first page of results, sorted by average customer review, came from an unknown brand. Unverified reviews made 99 percent of the reviews for the four best products.
Three smartwatches had an average customer rating of five stars. More than half of the reviews for the Galso Kids Smartwatch appeared in a 24-hour period in March.
The pattern was repeated with action cameras, fitness trackers and wireless security cameras – with more than nine out of ten top rated products in each category, made by unknown brands and encouraged by a flood of dubious reviews. Which? could not determine the source of the unverified assessments.
Which? advises shoppers to take extra care by buying products from brands they have not heard of, even if they have positive reviews from customers because they are more likely to be fake or irritated. Where possible, look for thorough and independent assessments of credible sources.
Research has shown that many products do not contain a report of success or independent assessment. One of the reviews is shown
One headset, by the unknown Celebrat, had 439 reviews that were all five-star, all unverified and all arrived on the same day. Stock photo shows Celebrat headphones that have not been rated
Amazon said it is investing considerable resources to protect the integrity of reviews. It confirmed that it has clear guidelines for participation for both reviewers and sales partners and it suspends, prohibits and takes legal action against those who violate the guidelines.
The company said it uses a combination of techniques, including research teams and automated technology to recognize fake reviews.
It confirmed that it analyzes technology for machine learning 24/7 and also works with social media sites to block false assessments at the source. It states that customers can help with reporting requests to manipulate reviews to Amazon's customer service.
Which? could not contact the unknown brands identified in the study.
Two weeks ago, which one? revealed how many genuine customer reviews on the Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis websites gave five-star ratings to products it had tested and rated as & # 39; Don't Buy & # 39 ;.
Customer reviews were often posted soon after the purchase and took into account issues such as the speed of delivery. Which? said they were not as valuable as the independent and long-term product tests it conducts.