SHODDY gadgets are being promoted with “fake” glowing reviews on Amazon.
A failure by online retailer to crack down on the suspicious reviews risks misleading millions of customers, Which? warns.
The watchdog studied a selection of devices made and sold by relatively unknown Chinese brands – all of which had “exceptionally high” ratings on Amazon.
Eight products were tested independently and three performed so badly they were rated as “Don’t Buys” – low-scoring items Which? advises consumers to avoid.
Almost all of the products – headphones, vacuum cleaners, dash cams and Bluetooth speakers – fell short of the average score by the for product performance in their respective categories.
A set of headphones sold under the Yineme brand showed signs of suspicious review activity, Which? said, including unusually high numbers of positive reviews, high review frequency, repetition of phrases and photos and videos often uploaded alongside reviews.
The headphones had a high overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 from more than 800 reviews and an “Amazon’s Choice” badge.
In contrast, Which? tests gave the product a “Don’t Buy” warning, with a score of just 37 per cent.
Which? is campaigning to highlight how online retailers allow dodgy reviews of little-known brands and poor quality products – while at the same time plugging it’s own reviews, which cost £9.75 a month to access.
Natalie Hitchins, from Which?, said: “Customer reviews should be a helpful resource for shoppers choosing what to buy and billions of pounds are spent every year based on this feedback, so it’s vital that Amazon takes stronger action to ensure people can trust the information they see online and aren’t duped into buying poor quality products.
“There appears to be no sense of urgency from the industry to tackle this problem so it’s down to the regulator to make that happen. We urge the regulator to investigate how fake reviews are used to manipulate consumers, and to crack down on sites that fail to take appropriate action to combat this.”
An Amazon spokesman said: “We are relentless in our efforts to protect the integrity of reviews.
“Any attempt to manipulate customer reviews is strictly prohibited and in the last year alone, we’ve spent over 400 million dollars (£308 million) to protect customers from reviews abuse, fraud, and other forms of misconduct.”