Amazon’s “meaningless” star review system slammed in new report


Amazon’s star review system has been slammed in a recent report which found numerous items with one-star ratings appearing to have shining reviews.

The Guardian has highlighted Amazon’s practice of “bundling” reviews of different products together, meaning that poor quality items appear alongside those with four or five-star ratings, rendering it impossible for the consumer to determine the quality of the item.

Numerous examples, including a 2017 Dirty Dancing TV adaption, which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 19 per cent, appears alongside the original and has the same 4.5 star rating from hundreds of reviews.

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The combinations of numerous formats and editions of items, such as badly translated versions of Charles Dickins’ Great Expectations, which exchanges the word tremendous for “maximum incredible”, are given the same set of reviews to other more reputable versions, effectively rendering the star rating system meaningless.

Furthermore, the report found examples of the same set of reviews being used for entirely different works.

Collins Classic’s versions of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion were given the same 4.5 star rating from 5542 reviews, despite being entirely different books.

This was also true of much of Shakespeare’s work, with the same set of reviews appearing for both paperback versions of Othello and Kindle versions of Macbeth in German.

The Guardian approached the retailer, which separated some of the reviews but declined to comment on its bundling system.

Various examples of customers complaining they feel misled by the ratings system were also highlighted in the report, including a Kindle review for one of Shakespeare’s plays reading: “This is a scam. It comes up at the top of the search with many positive reviews but it’s unreadable. I am still trying to get my money back.”

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