Fake reviews make online shoppers more than twice as likely to purchase low quality goods, according to Which?
The consumer watchdog asked nearly 10,000 participants to complete a simulated shopping task where they were asked to choose from a range of products including dashcams, headphones and vacuum cleaners on a platform similar to Amazon.
One group was shown the products without any product ratings at all, leaving them to judge the quality of items for themselves, while another was shown the same products with fake ratings, reviews and platform endorsement labels.
In the group which was left to determine the quality of goods for themselves, just 10.5 per cent chose a product rated “don’t buy” by Which? due to its poor quality.
However, in the group which was shown inflated star ratings and fake reviews, this rose to 23 per cent, more than double.
This increased even more significantly to 25 per cent when the products were given a platform approval badge, similar to “Amazon’s Choice”, marking a 136 per cent increase in the likelihood shoppers would buy a poor-quality item.
Which? has previously criticised Amazon for applying its label to poor quality and in some cases unsafe items, and providing almost zero transparency to how these endorsements are given.
“Which? has found categorical evidence that people are at huge risk of being misled by fake reviews, which is particularly worrying given people are shopping online more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic,” Which? director of advocacy Caroline Normand said.
“Online platforms must put more effective measures in place to stop unscrupulous sellers gaming the system with ease, otherwise the CMA needs to take strong action against these major sites.”
In response to the report, Amazon said: “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant.
“We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”