Amazon’s customer review system has been slammed by consumer group Which? after it found thousands of fake 5-star reviews on hundreds of popular tech items.
The investigation scoured listings in 14 categories of the website’s most popular consumer technology, including headphones, smart watches and fitness trackers.
Which? found that many of the top-rated items within these categories were produced by unfamiliar brands with thousands of unverified 5-star reviews.
It suggested that these were likely to be fake reviews as there was no way to prove the user had bought or used the item, and large swathes of them were posted in the same period of time.
“Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews, with shoppers bombarded by comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands,” Which? head of home products Natalie Hitchins said.
This was especially prominent in the headphone category. The study found that 87 per cent of reviews for the first page of results, sorted by their average rating, were unverified, and 71 per cent were 5-star ratings.
One example within this category were a pair of headphones made by Celebrat, which had 439 reviews all of which were 5-star, and all made on the same day.
The smart watch category was also a hotspot for unverified reviews, which made up 99 per cent of the top four products.
“Amazon must do more to purge its websites of unreliable and fake reviews if it is to maintain the trust of its millions of customers,” Hitchins added.
“To avoid being misled and possibly buying a dud product, customers should always take reviews with a pinch of salt and look to independent and trustworthy sources when researching a purchase.”
In response Amazon said it invests “significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers.
“We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”