Amazon is coming under fire for ‘deceptive’ ratings and reviews on its website, and lawmakers are now demanding answers (AMZN)


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Jan SchakowskyGetty / Leigh Vogel

  • Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois wrote a letter to Amazon asking the corporate what it does about faux product reviews and ratings.
  • Fraudulent, optimistic reviews and ratings — paid for by sellers on Amazon’s market — could make a product look higher, and extra fashionable, than it truly is.
  • “Online reviews significantly affect consumers’ shopping decisions, and it is important that Amazon proactively protect consumers from such misleading and harmful behavior,” Pallone and Schakowsky wrote. 
  • A Pew Research Center says that 82% of adults learn reviews earlier than making on-line purchases. Two-thirds of adults who learn reviews frequently view them as “generally accurate,” in line with The New York Times. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.


Democratic representatives on the Committee of Energy and Commerce are demanding that Amazon clarify what it does about “deceptive product ratings and reviews.”  


Committee chair Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois — who is the chair of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce — despatched a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday asking for a greater understanding of how the tech large identifies, removes, and prevents misleading reviews and ratings of the merchandise on its market.

The lawmakers additionally wish to know if Amazon advantages financially from promoting merchandise that are promoted fraudulently.

Fake, optimistic reviews and ratings could make a product look higher, and extra fashionable, than it truly is. These phony reviews might be paid for by sellers on Amazon’s market hoping to spice up their merchandise’ search rankings, and consequently gross sales.

“Online reviews significantly affect consumers’ shopping decisions, and it is important that Amazon proactively protect consumers from such misleading and harmful behavior,” Pallone and Schakowsky wrote. 

The letter lays out the impact of on-line reviews on shopper conduct: 82% of adults learn reviews earlier than making on-line purchases, in line with the Pew Research Center, and two-thirds of adults who learn reviews frequently view them as “generally accurate,” in line with The New York Times.

The letter additionally highlights the frequency and quantity of faux reviews. It references an April Guardian article that cites an investigation from shopper group Which? that discovered that 99% of reviews for the highest 4 merchandise coming up for a search for smartwatches have been unverified. The letter additionally factors to an April investigation by Buzzfeed News, which discovered that some Amazon sellers shell out $10,000 every month on faux reviews to spice up rankings.


Amazon didn’t reply to Business Insider’s request for remark, however in a press release to Bloomberg, Amazon clarified its stance in opposition to fraudulent reviews.

“Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. Even one inauthentic review is one too many,” Amazon stated to Bloomberg.

Amazon's ChoiceAmazon

The representatives questioned how Amazon determines which merchandise obtain the “Amazon’s Choice” badge on the web site. They posed 4 inquiries:

  1. Does Amazon independently confirm the standard of those merchandise?
  2. Does Amazon be certain that they don’t have misleading reviews?
  3. Are the merchandise promoted in another way than objects with out the badge?
  4. Does Amazon profit financially by promoting “Choice” objects? 

Read extra: Here’s what it means when an merchandise is marked ‘Amazon’s Choice’

Clicking on the badge on Amazon’s web site reveals this rationalization: “Amazon’s Choice recommends highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.”

Given the representatives’ issues over fraudulent ratings, a product may be falsely categorized as “highly rated” — and due to this fact acquire an “Amazon’s Choice” badge — attributable to faux ratings. 

Fakespot, which analyzes faux reviews, launched a report that finds faux reviews enhance main as much as Amazon Prime Day so as to enhance product gross sales. Fakespot additionally finds that three classes of tech merchandise — cell telephones, electronics, and bluetooth headsets — are particularly flooded with faux reviews. 

The Federal Trade Commission introduced its first case in opposition to fraudulent reviews paid for by a retailer on Amazon in February. The criticism was in opposition to an organization that paid for faux, optimistic product reviews of its weight-loss drugs on Amazon.

Rep. Pallone and Rep. Schakowsky have requested for a response from Amazon by July 30. 

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