The unfortunate phrase “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’” gained another application, this time with Amazon as the victim.
A watchdog organization called Which? found a concealed industry in which an individual can buy and sell counterfeit advertising with a big prize being “approval” from Amazon’s Choice.
The reviews can be purchased in singles ($7 apiece), or bundles for about $20, with bulk rates also available for 50 reviews ($860) up to 1,000 (more than $11,000).
The retail bandits have a leg up in what for Amazon is a difficult battle. The company’s “Marketplace” is open for others to sell their goods through Amazon’s website.
Those skirting the guidelines offer incentives for positive reviews via avenues including free products
Which? also pointed to five businesses with more than 700,000 “product reviewers.”
The group also suggested that five of the businesses it looked at had more than 702,000 “product reviewers” on their books.
It’s not only Amazon and other big companies being hurt, however. The consumer, too, is being misled.
Natalie Hitchins, an executive at Which?, called on the British government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to jump in.
“The regulator must crack down on bad actors and hold sites to account if they fail to keep their users safe,” she said in a BBC story. “If it is unable to do so, the government must urgently strengthen online consumer protections.”
Facebook and eBay recently signed an understanding with the CMA to “better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews.”
In the BBC story, an Amazon spokesman said: “We remove fake reviews and take action against anyone involved in abuse. We have won dozens of injunctions against providers of fake reviews across Europe and we won’t shy away from taking legal action.”