Online product reviews are heavily used by over half of the UK population and heavily influence the purchase decision. It has come to light that a high proportion of reviews on popular review-based sites are actually fake which resulted in over £20M being spent under false pretences. The Competition & Market Authority, who uncovered this scandal, have launched an investigation which will result in company bosses facing prison sentences and the business being fined.

So who is generating these misleading and damaging assessments? A mix of companies, friends and competitors all write to cause a particular effect which either boosts or damages a product and reputation.

Companies

Participating companies will pay for short text/high star reviews to be written for their products. This helps them to fabricate a false reputation for high quality and services. They even go as far as giving away products for free to gain a high star rating. Any negative reviews they receive can be hidden from customers, leading them into an incorrect view and spending money.

These same companies will also target their competitors by creating a mass of low star reviews which can cause an incredible damage rate, leading potential customers away from products that could actually be decent but appear as poor.

How to spot the fakes:

  • Positive reviews - short review that uses vague language that can be applicable to multiple product types with the addition of a 5 star rating.
  • Negative reviews – short review that uses negative language with the addition of a 1 star rating.
Friends

An individual seller or a local company can sell their products on sites such as Amazon which have product review options. These sellers can ask local people, friends and family members to write short reviews with a high star rating to improve their business reputation as well as increase sales.

How to spot the fakes:

  • Short reviews using emotive language such as ‘wonderful’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’, that does not particularly discuss why the product is the best one on the market. These reviews will come with a 5 star rating.
Competition

Local companies and individual sellers may have competitors who want to diminish the reputation of the business. They can do this by writing short negative reviews, awarding them with only 1 star.

How to spot the fakes:

  • Short reviews using emotive negative language such as ‘terrible’, ‘dreadful’ and ‘pitiful’, that does not go into detail as to why it is not a great product. These reviews usually come with a 1 star rating.
Other useful tips for identifying fake reviews:
  • Look at other reviews the person has written: how many others have they written? How much detail do they supply? Have they bought the product they are discussing?
  • Check the language of the reviewer to see if it fits in with the product – for example you would not expect emotive language towards a lawn mower.
  • Check to see if the reviewer has used the product they are writing about because if they have not then it is not trustworthy.
If you have any concerns or need any advice regarding your online presence get in touch with Ascensor today.

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