The impact of fake product reviews

What would you do if you received an item from a supplier via Amazon that you suspected was a fake?

This happened to me yesterday. I bought an Estee Lauder mascara. It was cheap, so I knew I might be taking a risk, but the supplier had hundreds of great reviews, so I gave it a go. I soon realised it was probably not the real thing –  my zero-smudge mascara smudged bigtime – so I thought I would give the seller a chance and messaged her about it. Immediately she got back to me, apologised, and refunded the money.

What would you do now? Would you just leave it at that or still write a bad review to warn others? I suspect a lot of people have just let it go. But how did the seller get so many great reviews?

Today, I read that Amazon and Google are being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the way they handle fake online reviews, in particular, if they are doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews and thus protect consumers.

Recently someone I know, got a note in their package from an Amazon supplier saying, ‘if you give us a five star review, we’ll give you a 10 pound Amazon voucher’. She reported it to Amazon but they weren’t interested. Now there’s nothing wrong with incentivizing people to give reviews or answer a survey. What’s wrong, is asking them to give you five-star reviews for the incentive.

Woman opening parcel. Source: Canva

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli in a BBC article. “Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out. It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough.”

What’s your experience?  If you bought something from a supplier that seems to have loads of five-star reviews, only to realise you’ve been conned, what would you do?

Businesses, especially smaller ones that can’t afford huge promotional budgets, rely on good reviews. Surely fake reviews reduce the trust we have in reviews.

So, I think I’ve answered my question – someone’s going to get a bad review from me today. Also, does anyone know any good smudge-free mascara? I’ve got a wedding to go to soon.

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