(CBS News) A warning from Consumer Reports about Amazon: the high ratings on some products may be misleading.
Amazon shoppers often decide to buy a product because it has a high number of stars. Those stars are based on positive customer reviews and can earn a coveted Amazon’s Choice banner. But Consumer Reports’ Jake Swearingen says, in a small number of cases, not all those reviews are legit. Swearingen says “it’s a practice that we’re calling review hijacking.”
He showed CBS News a back brace which received 4.3 out of 5 stars. But when you look at the comments you find plenty of the positive reviews are actually for a baby bib apparently taken from another seller. Swearingen says, “unscrupulous sellers have figured out how to exploit loopholes in the back end of Amazon.”
Judah Bergman’s company, Jool Baby, sells baby products on Amazon. He says, “most people are not looking at the actual reviews, they’re not reading, they’re like 4.5, ok let’s buy.” Bergman says he’s seen overseas companies take positive reviews from his listings and post them on their own. According to Bergman, “99% of the time it’s been Chinese sellers that have been doing this to us.”
Amazon told CBS News that they track more than 5-billion changes to detail pages every day. In a statement Amazon said in part: “we have mechanisms in place to proactively detect, restrict, and prevent suspicious changes before they appear in our store …” The company also told CBS News that if someone reports an issue they will investigate it and take the appropriate actions.
Swearingen from Consumer Reports says, “I think people can still trust Amazon if they take the time to read reviews.” Swearingen says with a little investigating any online shopper can check whether those positive reviews are real.