My Story of Struggle with Biased Amazon Reviews
Currently, Amazon is full of reviews that just can’t be believed. They aren’t trustworthy. Consider the case of these “Truck Ratchet Tie Downs”
Ratchet Tie Downs – Non-Organic Reviews
I recently bought a new truck (new to me – 107k miles on it. It is seriously crazy expensive to buy a truck). This is my truck:
I needed Ratchet Tie downs. So I went on Amazon and Searched for “Truck Ratchet”
My mind was immediately drawn to two things.
1). Orange Best Seller Flag: Amazon has complicated algorithms for their operation. Obviously. In our research, one becomes a best seller basically by having the MOST sells RECENTLY. We do think that the Average Ranking is ALSO CONSIDERED. We DO NOT think that the trustworthiness of the Reviews is considered in the Algorithm.
Everyone wants the BEST SELLER LABEL
SO – Companies get into “Aggressive Marketing Habits” in order to become a best seller. This may include selling their product off at a lower rate to increase sell volume. Or, basically giving their product away for a time to increase “Incentivized Reviews.”
So, I took the bait and clicked on the PREMIUM RATCHET TIE DOWN.
For the Average Amazon Customer (That for so many years has relied on reviews in their purchases), they would be almost GIDDY about these Ratchets. 825 Customer Reviews and an almost 5 Star Average.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Reviews
I of course clicked on the 1 Star Reviews first to see if I could get a better idea of the True Story behind these Ratchets:
My Eyes were of course drawn to the headline: “Positive Reviews DO NOT represent the product”
And my question immediatly become “WHO CAN I TRUST?” Maybe this one star reviewer is working for another competitive company and they too are trying to achieve BEST SELLER STATUS?
So I actually clicked on the 3 Comments to this 1 Star Review and Saw this:
There is some Intriguing Drama in these Reviews of the 1 Star Review:
1). Kerrie Ann – Why is Kerrie Ann chiming in on a product that she “bought for her husband” however “with a discount”. Her sentence kind of drags on and doesn’t make much sense. She seems to want to COMBAT what Darwin C has said about the Product;
2). Amazon Customer: A person named Amazon Customer than Chimes into the 1 star review and says “I am a non-friend here” but he sees that “something is going on”
At this point my mind is blown. Who is working for who? Why the interest in this one star review? Who can I believe?
3). Company Feedback: I was impressed to see the company join the fray and stand behind their product. I felt good about this. But I also felt bad. This company may be WAY TOO INVOLVED IN THEIR OWN REVIEWS.
So I moved on to Another 1 Star Review on this Ratchet Set
This Reviewer really took his job seriously. Video and Side by Side Comparison. He REALLY had beef with the product. OR, was he actually a paid member of another company sent to torpedo their operation? The conspiracy theory side of my mind started spinning:
You can see that he compares these blue ratchet downs to his “KREWE” that he calls “MY FAVORITE ONE RIGHT NOW BUT WILL UPDATE REVIEW IF THAT CHANGES”
Hilarious. Is he the CEO of Krewe?
So First the Reviewer named “Amazon Customer” (is this the same guy that commented on the other 1 Star Amazon Review?) says “This guy works or knows someone at Krewe and Was this a Vault Review or a Krewe Sales Pitch”
“Amazon Customer” is so into these product reviews that he is actually calling out Turbo Diesel for his review. Makes you question Amazon Customer’s motivations. Like, why the heck does he care so much?
Than Turbo Diesel Double Downs and says that these reviewers have only reviewed vault products.
This Truly is a Red Flag Warning to me. I Can’t trust a review written by someone that has ONLY reviewed Products from this Company. That is obviously blatant Review Abuse. (I did not click through the reviewer names to investigate their review history – they might have by this time purchased other products by other companies just to boost their credibility?)
Again. Mind is spinning. IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD TO REVIEW THE REVIEWS
RETURN TO ORGANIC ONLY REVIEWS
Some of us, with nostalgia, think back on the Good ol’ days of Amazon (5 to 10 years ago) when we could just look at the Star Review Rating and have complete confidence in the product.
These days have obviously vanished. I spend more time reviewing the reviews than I’d like to.
The Marketing Tactics with MANY AMAZON SELLERS have become TOO AGGRESSIVE.
AMAZON SEES THE PROBLEM
On October 3, 2016 Amazon Updated their COMMUNITY GUIDELINES and finally restricted these “incentivized products” or “purchased a product for a review”
1). Offer a Free or Discounted Product in Exchange for Posting a review
2). Have someone post content reviews on their competitors products
3). Have your friend, neighbor or anyone you know review your product.
Good Step. I applaud you Amazon. But is the DAMAGE ALREADY DONE?
For me it is. Until these things are cleaned up, I just can’t use Amazon Reviews as a guide to purchasing anymore. They just aren’t trustworthy and the companies are too aggressive in their campaigns.
What is an Organic Review?
In our research, an INNOCENT Person that purchases a Product on Amazon, will statistically speaking review the product 2 out of 10 times. These 2 out of 10 Reviews are the ones that we can believe. There should be no incentive or motivation to increase the percentage of reviews. 20% is Organic.
Why do people Organically Review Amazon Products?
Why would someone spend their precious time to go online and write a review?
1). They may either find something they REALLY like about the product and have need to share it with the world; (These are generally the 5 Star Reviews);
2). They find something that is broken or wrong with it and they get upset and want a release. They want to “SAVE THE WORLD” From this evil product. They are Superman or Superwoman; (These are generally the 1 Star Reviews);
3). They just ENJOY having their thoughts known and they are just by their personality more likely to go online and share. These are also the people that more likely than not contribute to Social Media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram. These are the generally the 2-4 Star Reviewers;
4). Some people actually feel guilty for not reviewing. Like it is a civic duty or something. Like it is Jury Duty. These are also organic reviews and are trustworthy. These Reviewers leave a spectrum of Reviews between 1-5 Stars (more likely than not compromising, well thought out and trustworthy).
We trust these reviews. These are Organic. This is what Amazon was built on.
Amazon NOT exactly telling us Everything
Chee Chew, the VP of Customer Experience at Amazon (Probably a lovely person whom I don’t know) did write an UPDATE ON CUSTOMER REVIEWS.
He says that biased reviews are not a huge problem and actually make up only a TINY FRACTION of the millions of reviews:
I actually think he is telling the truth. They obviously have the data.
But, I think he is failing to divulge the IMPACT that these TINY FRACTION of reviews have had on the marketplace.
Think about it, when was the last time you were at dinner with friends or text chatting about some of your latest purchases? Does the conversation ever go to I WISH I COULD TRUST AMAZON REVIEWS LIKE I USED TO?
I wish I could too.
Well sometimes I wish I could.
I’m going back to the Mall
I haven’t been to an actual mall in years. I’ve been to plenty of digital malls. But I mean the one that is downtown that I have to actually drive to.
But I went last week.
With my wife.
I actually had a lovely time strolling the mall, while holding my wife’s hand. It was kind of neat to look at a three dimensional view of a product. I wasn’t CONFUSED by star ratings or reviewers with bias.
I was Free.