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Consumers encounter fake reviews with increased regularity when shopping online

28 November 2017 - 09:08 by Mike Price

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A new study from BrightLocal has shown that although retailers like Amazon are doing more to restore trust in user reviews, most people still encounter fake customer feedback when trying to shop online.

Seventy nine per cent of respondents to the study said that they had seen at least one instance of a phoney review over the past 12 months, but the majority also admitted that they had a tough time differentiating between fake and genuine posts.

Almost a third said that they tended to see a retailer as being more trustworthy if it took the time to respond to customer reviews and address concerns, suggesting that there is some merit to direct engagement of this kind. This is up from 20 per cent in a similar poll conducted in 2016.

Fake reviews not only harm the reputation of retailers that offer safe shopping online, but also alter the perceptions of brands responsible for the products in question. Yet millions of people still rely on this type of feedback to decide whether or not to buy an item.

A little over a year ago Amazon axed its support for reviews which were given by people who had received products free or at a discount, as well as purging its user base of accounts believed to be responsible for manipulating scores. However, a recent report from Forbes suggests that this has not actually stemmed the flood of fake reviews, but encouraged it.

This is a tricky issue and one which needs to be looked at more closely by retailers and regulators alike. In the meantime consumers are better off looking to publications and review sites operated by reputable outlets and individuals to ensure that they avoid any fake feedback.