Which? finds ‘inflated reviews for dud products’
Written by Peter Walker
Poor quality products are being boosted by inflated reviews on the websites of Britain’s biggest retailers, according to an investigation by Which?
The consumer organisation looked at 15 products that it had rated as ‘Don’t Lewis,’, a status given to products that fail to meet the standards of its independent tests.
Although Don’t Buy status means a product should be avoided at all costs, researchers found that many of these products scored four stars or higher based on online customer reviews at Amazon, Argos, John Lewis and Currys PC World.
The Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones scored just 28 per cent in Which? tests but received an average rating of 4.2 stars at Amazon and 4.7 stars at Argos.
The Black & Decker SVJ520BFS 2in1 Dust Buster scored 4.6 at Argos and 3.8 stars at Amazon, but got only 32 per cent in Which? tests. While one review on Amazon described the vacuum cleaner as “light, easy to move and brings the carpet up a treat”, Which? stated that “it’s awful at cleaning carpets”.
While customer reviews can be useful when browsing a long list of products, Which? highlighted the limitations of this type of review to help shoppers avoid being misled. It reported customer feedback of being rushed into leaving a review within just a week of buying a product, with some citing incentives such as competition entries and future discounts from the retailer.
Additionally, some customer reviews are influenced by good customer service and the speed with which the item was delivered, rather than the quality of the product itself.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Our research suggests that you should take online customer reviews with a pinch of salt as they can be based on limited first impressions, and other factors not directly related to the quality of the product.
“If you want a high-performing product that will last you well, you need to look beyond customer reviews and seek out independent, thorough test results.”