Amazon deletes 20,000 user reviews after finding evidence of suspicious activity

Joe White

Posts: 69   +0
What just happened? Amazon has deleted some 20,000 reviews from its top 7 UK reviewers. It appears that the reviews had been posted as part of a profiteering plot, where individuals were sent free products in exchange for a guaranteed five-star review.

The move comes following an investigation from the Financial Times, which initially identified “suspicious activity” involving 9 out of Amazon’s top 10 UK accounts. Following this initial investigation, Amazon has now removed the review history of its top 7 UK accounts, including its number one-ranked reviewer, Justin Fryer.

Fryer’s contributions to Amazon’s UK site ranged from reviews of electric scooters to gym equipment, with most of the items coming from little-known Chinese companies. He posted a five-star review approximately every four hours, and in August alone he reviewed £15,000 worth of products.

It’s thought that the reviewed products sent to Fryer, and others, were given free of charge in exchange for a positive review. In the case of Justin Fryer, these products then appear to have been sold on eBay; as the Financial Times notes, Fryer has made almost £20,000 on the eBay platform since June.

Adding further evidence to the claim that Fryer’s reviews are fake, many of his eBay listings described his reviewed products as “unused” and “unopened.”

While Amazon has struggled with the problem of fake reviews for some time, the issue seems to have worsened in recent months due to the impact of Covid-19, which has driven users away from physical shops and towards online stores. In a comment, an Amazon spokesperson said that it takes fraud very seriously, adding: “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant.”

However, with the Financial Times finding evidence of suspicious activity on 90 percent of the platform’s top UK reviewers, it looks like Amazon has a lot of work ahead before users can truly trust the legitimacy of its customer reviews.

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TheBigT42

Posts: 574   +543
One of my old High School friends contacted messaged me out of the blue and asked me to do something like this for a product his business was selling. I noped out.

At first I thought is was a scam (I guess it really was) ... he correctly answered questions like where did we first meet.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,464   +6,149
So, one of Amazon‘s big strengths is data analysis yet they cannot figure out fake reviews after all these years. Makes total sense.

The ironic part is there are websites like review meta that do a very good job of showing the validity of reviews.

I'm not sure if it's just incompetence or on purpose to increase profits but Amazon is making a very good point to always study the reviews, don't just use them as a quick guide (which was their intended purpose that really no longer works)
 

Irata

Posts: 1,720   +2,875
The ironic part is there are websites like review meta that do a very good job of showing the validity of reviews.

I'm not sure if it's just incompetence or on purpose to increase profits but Amazon is making a very good point to always study the reviews, don't just use them as a quick guide (which was their intended purpose that really no longer works)
Yup, especially if there is a relatively low number, I always check the reviewers‘ other reviews.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,219
Amazon has been a joke for over two years now. Never the lowest price, always the worst search, fewer and fewer reviews you can trust.
That's a bit overstated, don't you think? Quite often I've found them to be the lowest price, and their shipping lately has been incredibly fast, compared to other vendors. I've gotten one-day shipping with delivery on Sunday many times, even though I didn't pay for it.

I rarely though trust their reviews, admittedly.
 

BigMeatyClackers

Posts: 10   +8
Maybe Amazon should make reviewers take a photo with the opened item and a piece of paper with their username and date. This could also be faked but at least sets a bar to jump.

Reviews used to be valuable. Make it harder to review and maybe the quality goes up
 

Jpe1701

Posts: 71   +69
That's a bit overstated, don't you think? Quite often I've found them to be the lowest price, and their shipping lately has been incredibly fast, compared to other vendors. I've gotten one-day shipping with delivery on Sunday many times, even though I didn't pay for it.

I rarely though trust their reviews, admittedly.
My prime delivery has gone from 2-3 days to now a week, and when they do ship it now they use ups surepost which hands it off to the usps for final delivery but adds a day to delivery so they use the cheaper shipping even though they have always used just standard ups.
 

Freddie159

Posts: 88   +54
Yup, especially if there is a relatively low number, I always check the reviewers‘ other reviews.

I use a product on my phone and about every 2 months they ask me if I like it and then after I say yes ask me to give it ANOTHER 5 star review!!
 

Freddie159

Posts: 88   +54
My prime delivery has gone from 2-3 days to now a week, and when they do ship it now they use ups surepost which hands it off to the usps for final delivery but adds a day to delivery so they use the cheaper shipping even though they have always used just standard ups.

If you are a Prime Member supposedly if you complain enough they will comp you a month for every late package, I have NOT tried it but they would OWE me a few years at this point!!! I live in a growing area with a tiny post office staff and they are swamped!! I even thought of doing the amazon packages thing until they got rid of it, I could send out over 10 trucks per day and still have packages left over!!
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,778   +295
I used to enjoy writing detailed Amazon reviews. Lots of mine were at odds with these Vine reviewers and suddenly over two years ago all my reviews were wiped. I had never received any free items as payment for reviews. At first I was miffed and tried to find out what was wrong. It was impossible and all I got was an email saying I'd violated their terms and conditions. No detail, attempt at explanation or come back. Just total wipe out of what were largely helpful and unbiased reviews. I do wonder if they use some algorithm to police their reviews and that it isn't up to much. I'm still coming across reviews which don't seem to relate to items I'm thinking of buying and five star reviews of rubbish.

On the positive side I no longer waste time on crafting reviews and although I still buy a lot from Amazon my preference is to buy elsewhere if possible. Amazon however is a seemingly unstoppable force in retail. As we've just had demonstrated with the exams fiasco in the UK algorithms can create more problems than they solve.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,720   +2,875
On the positive side I no longer waste time on crafting reviews and although I still buy a lot from Amazon my preference is to buy elsewhere if possible. Amazon however is a seemingly unstoppable force in retail. As we've just had demonstrated with the exams fiasco in the UK algorithms can create more problems than they solve.
Wholeheartedly agree. While there are quite a few items that are hard to find outside of Amazon, most „normal„ items can be found at other sellers or ideally offline and this is where I get them.
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,778   +295
At the time I was motivated to search and see if others had suffered the same fate. I came across one retired gentleman who loved doing reviews and had made videos. All his hard work was removed without explanation. Understandably, he was very upset. Rather than a way of making money some retired people enjoy putting a review together to exercise the grey matter and think they are helping others too. The Amazon policy makes no sense to me. If there is a problem with a few reviews that should be no reason to wipe out somebody's complete contribution. It's like guilty until proved innocent without any appeal.
I'd like to see all reviews as unrewarded and the removal of so called expert and Vine reviews. Also, as good products are updated and improved I reckon reviews after about three years are likely past their sell by date. Arguably, they could then be removed. I made suggestions to Amazon concerning their review system but I suspect the system is automated and nobody got to read them.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,223   +6,977
I used to faithfully provide product reviews but after they started deleting them w/o any reasonable explanation I stopped. They are particularly sensitive to ANYTHING that mentions Amazon in the review and won't tolerate anything suggesting that a particular vendor should be removed. Needless to say, I no longer buy from Amazon unless it's something not available in my area or can't be obtained from other sources.
 

mosu

Posts: 557   +195
Stop buying no name Chinese junk. It may be cheaper than its competitors but quality is much worse.
Generally, I tend to agree with you and then I remember that 35 years ago a noname firm named Pegatron used to flood the market with cheap cassette tape recorders and radios.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Never read the reviews, never left a review. I mean come on, the last place you want to look for independent advice is on the same page as it’s being sold!
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,778   +295
"Never read the reviews, never left a review. I mean come on, the last place you want to look for independent advice is on the same page as it’s being sold! " Shadowboxer
At first that sounds sensible but then the question arises: Where can you find useful advice on buying something? It's not an easy question and there's no obvious answer. It's also a massively important one. Amazon could do something but it's unlikely they will. With sales running ahead at such a rate they are too busy counting the money and planning their expansion programme.
 

Duckeenie

Posts: 85   +63


Why chines companies are allowed on the American platform is beyond me.


No one is allowed to sell on chines platforms...

Aliexpress is Chinese and isn't restricted to Chinese sellers.

If no one is allowed to sell on Chinese platforms why do they even exist?

Manipulating reviews isn't confined to the Chinese, it has been proved to happen in the western world as well.

This isn't the place for your ridiculous Trumpian tantrums.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,219
Aliexpress is Chinese and isn't restricted to Chinese sellers.


  • To open a business account on Aliexpress, be ready with documents to prove yourself as the owner of a legally established enterprise. You must own a business in mainland China.

sell.aliexpress.com

Don't even get me started on how China restricts foreign entities from doing business in China, their theft of intellectual property, or manipulations of the world trade system.
 

Duckeenie

Posts: 85   +63
  • To open a business account on Aliexpress, be ready with documents to prove yourself as the owner of a legally established enterprise. You must own a business in mainland China.

sell.aliexpress.com

Don't even get me started on how China restricts foreign entities from doing business in China, their theft of intellectual property, or manipulations of the world trade system.


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