Amazon filed a complaint on Tuesday, February 22 in the United States, against two companies specializing in the publication of product reviews, as CNBC notes: AppSally and Rebatest are accused by the online sales giant of linking sellers and internet users willing to leave positive reviews in exchange for products or gift certificates.
The complaint details a well-oiled, industry-leading system: Resellers using these fake review services ship empty boxes to conniving customers, to circumvent Amazon’s verification system that only allows a rating to be posted if a package shipment has been sent. well done. The retailer also provides digital photos that “customers” post with their reviews, which are always positive.
A significant part of the complaint is based on the two companies’ own advertisements. AppSally promises, for prices starting at less than 25 euros, “overtake all your rivals without leaving your room”. Rebatest, which claims to have 900,000 different users that it can mobilize to leave positive reviews on Amazon, eBay or Walmart, is suspected of refunding bogus customers via PayPal after they purchase a noteworthy product. Neither company, approached by CNBC, responded.
In addition to damages, for an unspecified amount, Amazon is asking the American courts to prohibit these two firms from selling or negotiating the publication of reviews on its platform.
Fake reviews are an endemic problem of online shopping platforms. The algorithms of Amazon and its competitors attach great importance to the ratings left by Internet users; products with good ratings are highly promoted, and rating changes can be a big issue for a reseller. Many shops use more or less legal incentives and techniques to get the most positive reviews, sometimes with unintended consequences.
In 2020, Chinese retailers who sent packets of seeds at random to the United States – an operation aimed at cheating with Amazon’s rating system – had thus triggered a movement of panic in the United States: many Internet users were worried about receiving these strange packages, which led to investigations by health authorities.