5 stars for China goods: Amazon deletes 20,000 reviews from prominent writers

They praised unknown China products in the sky and made a lot of money with them. Now Amazon in the UK has taken action against some of its hardest-working review writers.

The fact that companies send out free test products to get positive reviews on Amazon is not entirely new. In the UK, however, some reviewers have taken advantage of this practice well beyond what is permitted. An evaluation by the “Financial Times” shows that nine of the top ten reviewers from Great Britain are suspected of having been bought on a large scale for 5-star ratings. In response to the research, Amazon deleted around 20,000 reviews from seven top reviewers.

Amazon itself maintains a publicly viewable ranking list of the best customer reviewers, the ranking is composed of the number of reviews and the proportion of entries rated as helpful. But the hardest-working writers on the list turned it into an immoral business, reports the Financial Times. They had tons of products sent to them from unknown companies in China and then wrote 5-star reviews labeled “Verified Purchase”. They then sold the product, which was received free of charge, on Ebay, in some cases direct payment is also common, writes the “FT”.

There were five stars every four hours

Justin F., number 1 in the British reviewer ranking, was also very successful at the scam. In August alone, this product was worth 15,000 British pounds (about 16,800 euros), writes the “FT”. Whether it’s a smartphone, e-scooter or fitness machine – he published a five-star review every four hours on average . Most of the products came from unknown Chinese brands.

Even the “FT” does not know whether the man received money directly for these courtesy evaluations. However, he probably regularly monetizes the products that are probably given free of charge. Since June, F. has been selling products worth almost £ 20,000 on Ebay . When asked by the newspaper, the man denied that he had been bought for courtesy reviews. Suspicious, however, that he then deleted his entire review history in his Amazon account. At least two other suspected contract writers also deleted their reviewer histories. Then on Friday, Amazon took action itself and removed all reviews from seven of its top writers.

Amazon has an interest in having lots of star ratings on the site to get customers to buy. However, they should also be real in order not to gamble away their credibility. Therefore, reviews where Amazon has verified that the product was actually purchased are marked with the addition “Verified Purchase”. However, if the reviewer and seller play the wrong game together, that doesn’t help.

With the increasing online shopping sales since the beginning of the pandemic, the problem of false and manipulated Amazon reviews has increased, writes the “FT”. The analysis agency Fakespot reported that at the height of the problem in May, 58 percent of the products on Amazon UK had fake reviews. Amazon said it wanted to offer customers authentic and relevant reviews. People who violate the guidelines would be expelled, blocked and sued.

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