Matteo Viviani introduces us to the absolutely little known world of the so-called “Five-star reviews” of the products purchased on Amazon, the online shopping giant. Let’s talk about a system, let’s be clear, in which Amazon it is entirely foreign, developed by dishonest sellers.
We talked about it with Davide, a digital marketing and e-commerce expert: “We take care of everything needed to optimize Amazon’s product pages, to appear higher in searches, so as to be more likely to sell. The more reviews you have, the greater the chance to convert a click into a sale. Until October 2016 there were even programs for which the user could receive free products if he had left a review“.
A system based on the so-called “incentivized reviews”: the seller gave another product in case the customer had put a review on the product just purchased. “It was not written verbatim but those who did not leave it positive no longer joined the program“, Davide explains,” Amazon allowed it, but in the end the system didn’t hold up. And so things have changed, now you can no longer write a review in exchange for any type of discount or free product. It is a system that theoretically no longer exists“.
On a theoretical level, because another boy, young Gabriel, tells us that the method still exists, and how: “Initially I took random products, to understand if this little game worked. I started from the tempered glass of the cell phones. I’ve never actually used them. ” Gabriel he starts getting a lot of products sent to Amazon for sale, most of which he never tries. Products on which though makes its five-star reviews, thus having free products. Another buyer tells Matteo Viviani that he has taken headphones.
“They probably deserve three stars but in the review I put five. They will cost about thirty euros, I paid them 0 ”. Free products in exchange for nice reviews to sellers, in short. A system that, as we have told you, still exists and that mainly runs on the channels of the messaging app Telegram. “Here you can receive Amazon products in exchange for five-star reviews,” reads one of the many ads placed by sellers.
If we click we find thousands of subscribers and even the complete regulation that defines the system. Once the good has been purchased, and the five-star review has been made, with the widest and most detailed text possible and some photos of the product, and once the review has been published by Amazon, the customer requests a refund from the seller and the that’s it. Practically, for that review you get a refund of what you purchased, a product that remains free of charge to the customer. A nice deal isn’t it?
And not only that: on some of the products there would also be the possibility, in addition to the 100% refund, to also have del extra money. “Many times commissions are included ranging from 5 to 8 euros,” explains Gabriel. An illegal business, althe shoulders of Amazon and other buyers, who mainly buy the best reviewed products, but without knowing that those reviews are not authentic. A story in which Amazon, we repeat once again, has absolutely nothing to do with it. The responsibility is all of the sellers, who with false reviews climb the rankings and can show their product in the very first positions of Amazon, thus increasing the probability of sale.
“There is a predominance of Chinese companies“, Explains the digital marketing expert.” And many of these companies not I’m prosecutable because they are not registered in Europe or in the United States “. What if some of these products “pushed” by false five-star reviews were harmful to health, like maybe the tricks that end up on children’s faces? Meanwhile, we can begin to do our part, that is, make authentic reviews, only after having actually purchased and tried the product.
We heard Amazon, which on the mechanism described explains: “In 2016 we made it even more explicit that incentivized reviews were completely prohibited“explains Ilaria Zanelotti, head of market place at Amazon Italia.” We have a machine learning system and multiple investigators who analyze the over 10 million reviews we receive every week from our customers. However, we are aware that unfortunately this phenomenon exists. It’s a huge damage because the online world is based on customer trust: Amazon is fighting it by all means“.
Amazon has also let us know that it has verified some of the products indicated in the service and that it has already done so: “We have identified an abusive conduct and manipulation of the reviews and we have already begun their suspension”