10% of shoppers offered bribes for false Amazon reviews, finds Which?

Around ten per cent of Amazon customers were offered an incentive for leaving a five-star review in the past year, according to research by Which?.

The consumer champion said that it is concerned some sellers are cheating their way to the top of the Amazon rankings by offering customers gift cards, free products and refunds in exchange for positive reviews.

The company estimates around 4.5 million people who purchased an item from Amazon over the past year may have received a note or card in the packaging offering them an incentive for leaving a positive review.

Around four per cent were offered a reward for changing a negative review to a positive one, with Which? Adding that some reviewers have openly stated they were offered an incentive or a ‘bribe.’

Which? said leaving false positive reviews could cause harm to other customers and make shoppers twice as likely to choose poor quality or dangerous products.

The consumer champion says Amazon has access to large amounts of data to address the problem, suggesting that a high number of people changing their review could be a cue for the e-commerce giant to investigate the problem.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said that it is clear sellers are looking to “cheat the system” and are successfully managing to bypass Amazon’s defences.

“Amazon and other review-hosting websites need to step up and do more to banish fake reviews from their platforms by taking measures that ensure the reviews they host are genuine,” she said. “The government must make hosting fake reviews a criminal offence in its Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill so that regulators can take strong action to crack down on the problem.”

Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson from Amazon said the company was developing new ways to prevent fraud and urged customers to contact them if they had been asked to leave a false review.

“We have clear policies that prohibit reviews abuse, and we do not allow sellers to contact customers directly about a review and offer them incentives like gift cards to alter their reviews,” it told Which?. “There is absolutely no place for this kind of activity and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against sellers who violate our policies.

“Abuse like this, often coordinated outside of our store, is more challenging to detect and stop, and we have a programme to target bad actors that attempt to solicit incentivised reviews though insert cards and emails.”

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