Some Amazon reviews have a huge new flaw that makes them completely useless
Some sellers are changing listings to advertise different products from the ones the listings were originally created for, taking advantage of the good reviews a particular item has built up
By Dennis Green
The reviews are in, and they’re incredible: over 6,200 reviews, averaging 4.2 stars.
“Yet another triumph for the great Jane Austen!” reads one review.
“I really believe that Ms. Austen’s talent truly shines in this book,” reads another.
The only problem: the product page these reviews are appearing on is not a compilation of 19th-century novels of English literature, but a music theory textbook called “The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (Second Edition).” The author is not Jane Austen, but Jane Piper Clendinning. The item being sold and the reviews describing it do not match whatsoever.
How the page got to be like that is a bit of a mystery. An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.
According to Buzzfeed, this isn’t a random glitch, but instead an effort on the part of sellers who try to take advantage of Amazon’s reviews system to reach more customers. Essentially, these sellers will hijack an existing listing that has gone dormant, update the photo and description to be something new, and all of a sudden this new product looks like it’s been on the site for years with thousands of trusted reviews, Buzzfeed reported.
Most customers don’t bother to read the reviews, which would describe a different product, instead just checking how many stars an item has earned. Highly rated items appear higher in search results, as the equity the listing has built up from selling for so long makes it a trusted result in Amazon’s system.
Some of the examples of mixed-up product pages even have an Amazon’s Choice tag.
To be clear, doing this violates Amazon’s reviews policy, and sellers who change the appearance of product pages in such a way risk being barred from the service.
“Sellers who do not follow these guidelines will be subject to the removal of their selling privileges and/or listings,” an Amazon spokesperson told Buzzfeed.
It’s not the only way sellers try to trick unwitting shoppers, violating Amazon’s terms of service in the process. Some sellers have tacked on thousands of dollars of unwarranted shipping charges, which is also against Amazon’s terms.