Amazon sues over fake reviews

Discussion
Apr 10, 2015

Amazon has filed a suit against the operators of several websites that it alleges are in the business of writing fake reviews on its site for profit.

The suit against Jay Gentile, the operator of buyazonreviews.com, and a number of "John Does" who operate other sites including buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com represents the first time Amazon has gone to court over the issue.

The copy on the buyamazonreviews site reads, "Are you tired of your products not being seen, tired of competitors leaving bad reviews? The solution is simple. Buy Amazon reviews. You can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week. Our skilled writers look at your product, look at your competitor’s products and then write state of the art reviews that will be sure to generate sales for you."

While the sites engaged in writing the reviews maintain actual product is being reviewed, the truth is far different, according to the e-tailer. In its suit, as reported by GeekWire, the company alleges buyamazonreviews.com "chastised a reviewer for complaining about not receiving the product."

Amazon’s suit alleges the review sites engaged in trademark violations, unfair competition and deceptive acts. It is seeking damages and restitution.

According to a recent survey of 800 consumers by PowerReviews, 86 percent of online shoppers believe reviews are essential to the purchasing process. Seventy percent of mobile shoppers were more likely to make a purchase if they had access to reviews. Interestingly, 82 percent look specifically for negative reviews while shopping.

The integrity of ratings and reviews is something that has been questioned for many years. According to a 2012 New York Times report, a seller of cases for tablet devices offered Amazon shoppers a $2 rebate for every star they gave one of its products on the site. The average rating for the product on the site was 4.9 out of five stars. Amazon removed the product from its site after the Times produced documentation.

Do paid-for reviews amount to a fraud perpetrated on consumers? Do you support Amazon’s suit and other efforts to deal with fake ratings and reviews on its site?

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Amazon sues over fake reviews"


Sort by:   newest | oldest
Keith Anderson
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Great move by Amazon.

Amazon’s ascent to the position of number one product search engine was a function of its vast selection and rich product content, including consumer ratings and reviews.

In addition to the impact on search, ratings and reviews are also proven to be highly influential to conversion.

Ensuring shoppers’ ongoing trust in the integrity of reviews is well worth pursuing.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

The short answer is yes and I support Amazon’s efforts.

Not sure about whether it meets the legal definition or not but unfortunately people’s purchase decisions could be based on false information. Too many believe if it is on the Internet it must be true.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

It may not be fraud in the legal sense, but it’s certainly fraud in the moral sense. Good for Amazon. I believe Expedia is trying to do something similar in the hotel ratings business, trying to verify the reviewer was actually at the hotel.

Janet Dorenkott
Guest
Janet Dorenkott
2 years 9 months ago

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Yes, reviews matter and yes, people count on them. Maybe it’s because these services are blatantly advertising that they will give good, paid-for reviews. But there are many similar situations that aren’t as obvious.

Do technology review companies give more favorable reviews to vendors and include their solutions in their articles and quadrants if they are paying for their analysts? Do industry experts talk about your product more if you are paying for their services? Do you get awards at trade shows because you spend more on booths and ads?

It’s not as blatant, but I have often felt there was an association and I’m sure other small vendors have noticed it as well. How do major IT vendors get awards for products that are just being announced? I don’t think there is ever going to be a fair way to control it. Money talks and when people are paying, whether outright or in a round-about way, they will get acknowledged. Buyer beware.

Warren Thayer
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Whether it meets the legal definition of fraud or not, it’s obviously sleazy and I support Amazon’s suit. Laws in recent years have been written and amended to protect vested interests, not the public, so it’s a tough battle. It’s easy to throw up your hands and say it’s the way of the world, but we should never give up fighting for what is plain old common sense right.

Max Goldberg
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Good for Amazon! With so many consumers wanting to see and putting their faith in reviews, it’s important to eliminate as many fake reviews as possible. Amazon realizes that fake reviews will hurt its business and is taking action against some of the most obvious sources of these ratings. I hope that other sites, like Yelp and Trip Advisor, do the same.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
2 years 9 months ago

Good cop: Yes, fake reviews amount to a kind of fraud perpetrated on customers. Whether it’s a legal case or not, Amazon has “served notice” against those who purportedly perpetrated this misrepresentation, so that’s good in itself.

Bad cop: Amazon also does things that are “questionable” but more insidious, like our report that Amazon may stalk its own merchants to see which products sell well and then quickly introduce those products itself (which was discussed in a different context yesterday on BrainTrust (Amazon muscles its own retailers’ best sellers).

J. Kent Smith
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

One-word answer: FINALLY!

Hopefully this starts a trend.

James Tenser
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

The validity of user reviews depends upon the presumed integrity of the reviewers. Paid ads should be identified as such. Amazon’s legal action is welcome now, but it has already profited greatly over the years from turning a blind eye to this odious practice. The question remaining for me is how does Amazon plan to enforce this, other than suing a handful of bad actors? Maybe it’s time to rate the reviewers.

Dan Raftery
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Why the FTC has not stepped in is beyond me. The credence given reviews has been documented repeatedly. This is another form of deceptive advertising. The lawsuit is a good use of Amazon’s position in the market place, but it should not have come to this.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
2 years 9 months ago

The whole point of reviews is that we can access points of view that aren’t paid for. They are a neutral third party. People WANT this information and the second we start thinking that they may be the advertiser, the less credible they are, which means the less utilized. If that happens, we as people will start looking elsewhere for those neutral third-party points of view. Likely it will be friends and store associates. So yes Amazon, you’d better get on it! And Facebook? Look and learn.

Jack Pansegrau
Guest
Jack Pansegrau
2 years 9 months ago

I strongly support Amazon on this. Reviews are essential and I often read reviews and “questions answered” just to determine information on scantily drafted product descriptions. Honest reviews, both good and bad are essential to me as a consumer. And I honestly was unaware of the reviews-for-sale business. I believe Amazon has started posting a “Verified Reviewer” label. One would hope that only purchasers of a product could review, so it seems like Amazon has internal methods of ensuring legit reviews too.

Joan Treistman
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I absolutely want reviews to be from bona fide buyers/triers of the product reviewed.

The article also referred to fake reviews from competitors. Now that’s another practice I’d like to see stopped. But if those reviews are brought to the attention of shoppers, I think that will stop those competitors because of the bad publicity.

Arie Shpanya
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

This is a great move on Amazon’s part. Consumers generally believe that reviews are accurate and Amazon is taking the proper steps to keep their trust in the marketplace.

David Coleman
Guest
David Coleman
2 years 9 months ago

Amazon appears in this instance to be promoting “transparency” for the greater good. This shows great social responsibility and protects their brand. On the other hand, Amazon is anything but transparent when brands approach Amazon about the true identity of third-party sellers on their website. For the purpose of protecting their brand, and protecting the public from fraud. It seems that Amazon thinks that transparency should be like a one-way mirror. Interesting.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Do you agree or disagree that fake reviews amount to a fraud perpetrated on consumers?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...