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amazons-choice

Amazon’s Choice badge given to product with 1000’s of Incentivized, Hijacked and Deleted reviews

September 12th, 2019

Amazon has recently come under fire for their use of the Amazon’s Choice badge, and with good reason.  Today, I was notified of a listing that touts the Amazon’s Choice badge, yet checks all the boxes for the biggest red flags we see in terms of unnatural reviews.  Not only do we have evidence of underground incentivized reviews, but we have clear evidence of Review Hijacking and even thousands of deleted reviews.

At the time of writing (9/12/2019), the listing has 1,163 reviews, and the ReviewMeta algo throws out over 2/3rds of them, dropping the average rating down from 4.3 stars to 4.1 stars.

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1. Blatant Review Hijacking

The first thing you notice when checking the ReviewMeta report for this Smugdesk Office chair is that there’s a massive “Review Hijacking” warning at the top of the page.  Seems this listing started out as a standing desk converter, but then was re-purposed as an office chair, though they seemed to have kept the reviews for the previous product.

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Diving into the reviews shows that this warning is indeed correct.  Sorting the reviews by “recent” and then scrolling to the very last page, we can clearly see the reviews were written for a different product.  Here’s a link to the last page of reviews – these will likely be removed when this post gets some publicity, so you can see some example screenshots below.  It seems the last ~100 reviews are all for a desk, not a chair.

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2. Soliciting Incentivized Reviews on Facebook

A ReviewMeta user tipped us off to some ads this brand has been running on Facebook – offering “free samples” for “valuable feedback” to “Amazon users only”.  Here’s a link to the page that shows the ads this company has been running.  A screenshot is included below:

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Now this isn’t evidence that there was pay-to-play, but a quick scroll through the Facebook page for this brand shows lots of discussion about this “offer”:

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One of the tell-tale signs of incentivized reviews is the percentage of reviews with images and video in them.  For this product, we see about 1/3rd of reviews (over 300) have images or video.  Compare that with something like the Amazon Echo and we see that less than 1% of reviews have an image or a video.  Why do so many reviewers for this boring desk chair choose to post a picture of it?

Finally, our tipster sent us a screenshot of their conversation with the company.  Here’s them explicitly stating that you need to leave a 5-star review and you’ll get a paypal refund for the product:

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3. 1,000’s of Deleted Reviews

Our report shows nearly 1,500 reviews have been deleted, with an average rating of 4.7 stars.

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Amazon has clearly taken some action on this listing, however we still see over 100 hijacked reviews and blatantly incentivized reviews.  Amazon needs to be more transparent in their listing.  What does the Amazon’s Choice badge actually mean?  Why did nearly 1,500 reviews disappear from this listing?  Customers have the right to know.

This is just one more reason to ALWAYS use ReviewMeta before making purchases on Amazon.  While Amazon is busy giving the listing an “Amazon’s Choice” badge, ReviewMeta is hard at work exposing the truth.