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Headphone Sellers Using Unrelated Reviews To Boost Amazon Ratings

Amazon tech sellers have been co-opting unrelated product reviews in order to boost their customer ratings.

This is according to UK consumer magazine Which?, who claim nine of the ten-highest ranked headphones on Amazon climbed the ranks due to fake reviews, originally written for products as varied and unrelated as beach umbrellas, jigsaw puzzles, and soft toys.

Bose, whose headphones are rated eighth, is the only company in the top ten that doesn’t have fake reviews. The other brands in the ten are relatively unknown.

“Unscrupulous businesses are exploiting weaknesses with Amazon’s review system, leaving shoppers at risk of buying products boosted by thousands of bogus five-star reviews,” said Rocio Concha, the director of policy and advocacy at Which?.

“All of the reviews, including three reviews clearly showing photos of the product, were for ‘plushie’ toys – a ‘cute’ cuddly stuffed animal apparently loved by children and adults alike,” Which? reported.

The practice is possible due to ‘merging reviews’ which allows online sellers to bundle all reviews for a similar product, such as different colourways of the same model, in one listing. These headphones sellers are doing so with total unrelated products, which goes against Amazon’s terms and conditions.

Which? explained it focused its investigation on just one popular product category, “but has also seen the issue across other categories, including smartphone chargers with reviews for surge protectors, tweezers boosted by reviews for non-stick kitchen foil, and blackhead removing nose strips boosted by reviews for wigs”.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We have now taken appropriate enforcement action against the product listings and sellers in question.

“We have clear guardrails in place to prevent products from being incorrectly grouped, either due to human error or abuse.

“Our proactive measures detect and block the vast majority of abuse in our store automatically: however, we are disappointed when bad actors evade our system and we will continue to innovate and invest in our tools and processes.”

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