When was the last time you took an Uber ride? Do you recall the driver insisting to give him a 5-star rating?
What about Zomato or Swiggy? The last time you ordered in, DO you recall the delivery executive to rate his service?
Welcome to the 21st century. Reviews and ratings today are the backbone of a business. They can make or break it.
Consider this, every time you plan to dine, what is the first thing that we do?
Check out the place online. We review the reviews and every time we’re booking a hotel; we read about the experience of previous guests.
Tell me if I’m wrong in assuming that every time you buy a product online, you make it a point to make the reviews.
And why wouldn’t you? We rely on reviews for the quality and authenticity of a product.
But do you know, at least 40% of those reviews are fake?
And they have been placed there to fool you.
This blog is for you to spot fake reviews.
What are they? Reviews that are not genuine, meaning the ones writing them have either been paid for it or have been given some incentives in return, say free products.
How This Scam Works?
Let me show you how this works?
This below image is an Amazon reviews group on Facebook. One of the many that’s out there.
You will find posts like these, where sellers and middleman contact reviewers anyone and everyone can post here and anyone and everyone can review a product.
As you can see, it’s a Barter system.
One google searches and you’ll find 100s of such platforms.
Read this line, “If you’re an Amazon seller, it is therefore important to try and look for ways to find reviewers who are ready to post positive reviews of your products”.
And trust me, when I say this, it is very easy to find reviewers.
I came across this website, it’s called Fiverr.com.
I search for the reviews and it took me to this page and one particular user caught my eye.
Just look at what his profile says, “I will provide you positive 5 star Google, Trust pilot, TripAdvisor, Yellow page and special request reviews and good feedback comment services”.
Which brings me to the next question?
Who is buying these services?
Companies or individual
Who are selling products online? Not all of them, but a lot of them.
You see excellent reviews or high rating help products stay ahead in the listing that is unless you’re paying to be featured on the top.
Let me explain this again. Consider Amazon for example, and I keep coming back for Amazon because it is the biggest online selling platform in the world.
There are 1.8 million sellers on amazon and the total number of products is 600million.
So when I’m searching for a pen, this is what I get.
All of the pens on page 1 are rated 4 and above. Many of them are 4.5, some even 5.
A rating of 2.5 or 3 will get you somewhere around the 50th or 60th page, depending on the number of products.
Most of us do not have the time or patience to browse beyond the first few pages.
And many of us end up buying products from the 1st first 5 to 10 pages unless we’re looking for something very specific.
So, in order to increase their sales, sellers often trick their way to the top.
99.6% of the fake reviews on Amazon are 5-star reviews. Like I showed you 5-star reviews ensure that you are on the top of the list.
So this is one reason why fake reviews are used.
Another One Is To Sell Average Or Below Average Products.
Sometimes even fake products.
They are packaged with fancy reviews and high ratings.
Do you know that many of the reviewers have never seen the product that they are reviewing?
Often fake reviews are used to pull down the rating of the competitors.
People are paid to leave negative reviews on other products.
Then there are those who get paid to endorse fake reviews.
“Click on thumbs up and get a dollar”, I’m not kidding you can read this.
Do Retailers Know about this SCAM?
Do online shopping portals know about this scam?
Of course, they do. Amazon allows you to report abuse in a review.
In 2015, it sued 1114 reviewers for false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews.
Less than 30 days ago, amazon deleted 20k fake reviews.
Flipkart too has its way of weeding out fake reviews.
These companies have policies in place and I’m not questioning that.
But what’s the point of these policies if fake reviews are continued to boom online.
According to one report, some fascinating Amazon stats:
• There are around 250 million reviews on Amazon.
• 82% of adults in America check reviews.
• Barely 17% of users fully trust reviews.
• Only just 3% to 10% of people actually write reviews.
• 61% of electronic reviews have been deemed “fake.”
• There were 2+ million unverified reviews on Amazon as of March 2019.
• Black hat companies offer as much as $10, 000 a month for a review.
• Source: https://review42.com/what-percentage-of-amazon-reviews-are-fake/
I found this very interesting article, it’s titled “Confessions of a paid Amazon review writer”
This woman claimed for the most expensive product that she received in exchange for a fake review was a 50$ Bluetooth speaker.
These people are being paid to sway consumer choices. They influence what you and I buy.
Let me give you some more numbers.
• 82% of American adults check reviews before buying a product.
• 16.2% of customers say they make their buying decisions based on ratings and reviews. Do they know about fake reviews? A lot of them do, yes.
• 20.8% of American adults say, they only trust reviews by verified buyers.
• 4.1% say they do not trust reviews at all.
What about India?
A survey in India found, 62% of consumers across 220 district says, they found a positive bias in their reviews.
So, there is an awareness, what there isn’t is their ability to tell fake reviews from authentic ones.
How to Spot Fake Reviews?
But how do we spot fake reviews?
- We look at the reviewers’ profile, if he or she has reviewed just 1 product and is all gaga about it, I’ll say take it to a pinch of salt.
- Look at the timing of the reviews, say between July 2020 ad Sept 2020 the product has suddenly broken an average or bad reviews streak and received only 5-star rating in good reviews, it is very likely that the sellers hired bots and paid a firm during that period to generate fake reviews.
- If a product has only 5-star reviews, I would say it is a red flag.
- Spot reviews with similar languages, say a product’s 50 reviews, 25 of them are from unverified buyers and they’ve all left with just 1-word reviews like amazing, brilliant, must buy, I’ll say don’t buy.
- There are many websites that’ll help you verify reviews in the interest of not endorsing any specific websites, I will not name them, feel free to do a quick online search. The next time you’re buying something online.
You see, it is more important than ever to spot reviews. We have become very dependent on online platforms, courtesy of the Wuhan virus pandemic.
If you look at US retail sales, online spending accounted for 18.6 % of it in the first two quarters of 2020.
According to Capgemini in India, the appetite for online shopping is expected to increase to 64% over the next few months.
62% of consumers will switch to brands that show a higher level of product safety.
Don’t let fake reviews decide which product is the date and which is not.
The next you buying things online you remember 63% of reviews on beauty products are fake.
59% of sneaker reviews are unreliable.
64% of reviews on supplements cannot be trusted.
Let me put it simply for you. Online reviews cannot be trusted.
Look for verified buyers or run a quick research on the product you’re looking to buy.
Remember, we’re living in a time where opinion can be bought and sold.