Lawsuit in the USA: Amazon defends itself against fake reviews

If you want to buy an item on Amazon, you usually look at the customer reviews. We have known for quite some time that these are not always entirely credible, but have sometimes been bought. Now Amazon seems to want to escape this bad image. The online mail order giant has declared war on false reviews without further ado. A corresponding lawsuit in court has already been filed.

Fake reviews as a lucrative business

It has become a lucrative business to offer good reviews at face value. This is probably not as true with any online store as it is with Amazon. Three of the biggest providers of fake reviews are “AppSally,” “Pingjiae” and “Rebatest.” The aim of many buyers of fake reviews is not only to present their own products in a good light. On top of that, they shamelessly offer to brand competitor products with bad ratings. This not only ensures that many reviews on Amazon can simply no longer be believed. On top of that, the reputation of CEO Jeff Bezos is soiled.

Of course, many rather unknown companies use the opportunity to make their products more interesting for customers. That this pays off is more than clear in practice. After all, Amazon’s rating system has now become entrenched in the minds of consumers. If an item has five stars, prospective customers usually buy it blindly. When the product arrives at home, the truth of inferior quality is revealed. The addressee of the complaints is then usually Amazon itself, even though the marketplace can’t actually do anything about the false ratings. In order to eliminate the problem once and for all, Amazon no longer wants to stand idly by. At the beginning of the week, they had therefore filed a lawsuit against the said three providers for fake reviews at the court of the US state of Washington.

Violation of consumer protection law

But how does this play out in practice? If a company wants a fake review for its product, it approaches a provider such as those mentioned above. This in turn requires a not to be despised sum for the customer evaluation. The positive or negative reviews are then written by other people who work for AppSally and Co. These then receive a share in the form of free products, vouchers or money. Amazon is now fed up with this. In its indictment, the online shipping giant argues that the companies’ actions violate Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

In particular, the accusations focus on misleading consumers. Furthermore, according to Amazon, they influence potential contract conclusions by influencing customers’ decision-making. The crowning glory of the whole thing is that the mediators of fake reviews are also unjustifiably enriching themselves from the whole procedure. The fact that such a procedure violates Amazon’s principles is already clear from the terms and conditions. From these can be read out namely clearly that customer reviews, which are aroused by incentives, are prohibited.

Consequences for customers of the review mediators

With its charge, Amazon wants to achieve a few things. First and foremost, the online shipping giant is demanding, as part of a cease-and-desist declaration, that the three providers undertake to put down their questionable businesses. On top of that, the company wants to get a comprehensive insight into the profits that AppSally and the other two companies have generated with their machinations. In addition, Amazon is demanding triple damages to provide some compensation.

However, the merchants who requested the support of the intermediaries may also have to fear. After all, the online marketplace demanded the disclosure of all principals. Possibly, these could then be threatened with a sales ban on the platform. In addition, AppSally and Co. are to disclose which accounts were used to write the reviews. Here, too, Amazon should then probably take action and delete the corresponding profiles.

200 million “suspicious” reviews in one year

Should Amazon itself come across a review that to all appearances was commissioned, it will be deleted immediately. Such reviews seem to abound on the online marketplace. In 2020, for example, it had to unceremoniously delete over 200 million suspected fake reviews. By way of comparison, a total of around 1.5 billion reviews were posted this year. The share of possible fake reviews is thus growing immensely. Amazon itself is now confident of victory with its lawsuit. After all, the company can already look back on successful court cases. Only last year, a lawsuit against a German portal caused a stir.

Amazon made short work of the case and removed all clients from its marketplace. For its part, the review mediator Rebatest cannot understand why Amazon is taking action against the reviews. After all, the provider leaves it open to its review copywriters how they rate. Amazon itself counters this statement by saying that goodies like free products or other bonuses only beckon with ratings of 4.65 out of 5 stars. By the way, the customers of AppSally and the other two intermediaries are positive. At least, if the ratings on the portals are to be believed. In view of the negative headlines, this is doubtful.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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If you want to buy an item on Amazon, you usually look at the customer reviews. We have known for quite some time that these are not always entirely credible, but have sometimes been bought. Now Amazon seems to want to escape this bad image. The online mail order giant has declared war on false … (Weiterlesen...)

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