- Fakespot is a useful tool for determining if Amazon reviews are real or fake, providing a letter grade for review reliability.
- Staged photo reviews can be a red flag, especially if there are patterns or similarities among the photos.
- Reviews given ‘in exchange’ for a product are a common red flag for fake reviews on Amazon.
- Multiple reviews on the same date or a sudden influx of reviews followed by a long gap can indicate fake reviews
- Review merging is a tactic used by some brands to boost the ranking of their products by combining reviews from different products.
When it comes to making purchases on Amazon, aside from price, one of the biggest factors in whether something is worthwhile is reviews. It’s all too frequent to see a product on Amazon from a company you have never heard of, that has no website, and it has a 4.7 out of 5 rating yet you can’t quite figure out why an unknown item is doing so well.
The reality is that many unknown brands have items that can do well, but as Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days are right around the corner, knowing what to look for in customer reviews can make a big difference. With hundreds or thousands of reviews on millions of items, Amazon customers rely on this metric as a way to determine if a product is of good enough quality to purchase.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at 7 things to look for in customer reviews as you shop during Prime Big Deal Days.
What Are Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days?
On October 10 and October 11, 2023, Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days are the second non-holiday sale Amazon has over the course of the year. Offering big discounts on tens of thousands of items, many Amazon Prime subscribers look forward to this time of year as an opportunity to pick up things that have been on their wish list for many months.
Better yet, you can take advantage of this sale as an opportunity to get ahead of your holiday shopping. Along with Amazon Prime Day, Amazon offers big discounts on its own lineup of devices like Fire tablets and televisions as well as Kindles. Additionally, you can find deals across many different verticals like electronics, home decor, bedrooms, bathrooms, vacuums, and so much more.
However, before you make any purchase, it’s important to know that the item you are buying is trustworthy. This is why customer reviews play such a big role in whether a product is worth your hard-earned money.
So let’s dive right into the topic at hand and see what you need to really look for in Amazon customer reviews.
- 55" QLED 4K UHD
- Dolby Vision IQ
- Local dimming
- Hands-free with Alexa
- 300 PPI display (glare-free, paper-like)
- A single charge via USB-C lasts up to 6 weeks
- 16GB of storage
- Access to Kindle Unlimited with over 2 million titles
Things to Look for in Amazon Customer Reviews
#1: Fakespot is Your Friend
When you want to really determine if a review is real or fake, you can use the popular service Fakespot with nothing more than an Amazon link. As soon as a link is dropped into the Fakespot website or by using the Chrome extension, the service uses AI to detect if reviews are real or fake. With each review, Fakespot provides a letter grade that indicates how reliable it believes the reviews are for any given product.
For any product that receives a letter grade of an A or B, there is a good chance the reviews are reliable. If a product receives a C, there is a mix of both reliable and unreliable reviews. Should a product receive a letter grade of D or F, Fakespot is detecting an insufficient amount of reliable reviews and this is a pretty good indicator you should think twice before trusting the reviews.
Better yet, Fakespot also provides a review of the company itself, so you can weigh that as part of your decision-making process along with the letter grade on the customer reviews.
#2: Staged Photo Reviews
This is one of those things that might not be equally true for all Amazon customer reviews, but pictures are worth a thousand reviews for every Amazon product. If you see a product with a lot of 5-star ratings, it’s best to check the pictures and see if you can detect a pattern among the pictures.
For example, if you are looking at a tablet stand, you can go to the customer reviews and see if you can find a similar-looking tablet in a number of the reviews. You might look for identifiers like a similar wallpaper on the screen or the same case on the tablet being used with each photo.
Also, you can look for backgrounds in photos that appear to be the same like a table or desktop that appear more than once across different customer reviews. In these instances, if there is anything that looks too similar, there is a good chance it is staged photography, and therefore the reviews are not trustworthy.
This isn’t a universally true example, but there is a real chance that if you even remotely suspect some of the images are too similar in nature, something fishy is going on with the reviews.
#3: No Company Website
If you decide to look up a product from Amazon you wish to buy and there is no company website, this is a potential red flag. Not having a website isn’t reason enough to suspect customer reviews might be false, but it definitely begs the question of why there could potentially be hundreds or thousands of reviews for a product from a company no one has ever heard of previously.
The likelihood that a bunch of smart shoppers like yourself just happened upon a product and purchased it without recognizing the name or brand and it just happens to win 4 and 5-star reviews is pretty difficult to believe.
The more likely scenario is that the customer reviews in the same star range are not reliable and the reviews in the 1 to 2 star range are probably the ones you want to read.
#4: “In Exchange” Reviews
One of the biggest red flags you can find across all Amazon reviews is those that are given “in exchange” for the person being provided a product. This has been so prevalent in the last few years that, in 2021, Amazon removed brands like Aukey, RAVPower, and Mpow, three popular electronic accessory brands from Amazon completely. These companies were accused of providing customers with products from their lineups in exchange for positive reviews.
While Amazon has done a great job, you still have to be careful that these reviews are run through apps like Fakespot in order to determine if they are too cheery and too positive to be part of an “in exchange” program.
A July 2020 study released by UCLA and USC schools in California identified over 20 Facebook groups that promote reviews, all of which had a member count of over 16,000 people. What’s worse is that these groups saw an average of 560 posts per day with fake reviews available for around $6 for every review.
There is no doubt millions and millions of positive Amazon customer reviews exist. Still, the reality is that there is a sea of fake reviews that is making authentic reviews more and more difficult to identify.
#5: Multiple Reviews on the Same Date
One of those easily identifiable causes for fake Amazon reviews that you should be on the lookout for during Prime Big Deal Days is multiple reviews on the same date. If you can identify this trend or better yet, identify this trend and find long gaps between lots of reviews, this is a clear sign something is amiss.
There is no doubt when a popular new product releases that reliable reviews can come in quickly. However, for products that have been on Amazon for a while, if you see a trend with a lot of reviews around the same time frame, potentially even the same day, and then no reviews for a long time, this is definitely a reason to throw up a red flag around whether you should purchase this product.
#6: “Customers Also Bought” Section
Yet another area that most people don’t think to look at around Amazon customer reviews is the Customers Also Bought section. Available with just about every Amazon product, if you look at this section and you see completely unrelated products, this is another foolproof way to throw up the red flag around these reviews.
Now, this isn’t to say that you cannot buy a television and a notebook in the same order as it’s very normal to order different things on Amazon at once. However, the Customers Also Bought section is an algorithm that utilizes thousands of orders to properly categorize this section, so it’s increasingly rare to see dramatically different products come together here.
Should you see something in this section that makes you think twice, your next step should be to grab the Amazon link, drop it into Fakespot, and see what letter grade is provided.
#7: Review Merging
Another issue that is more common on Amazon than Amazon would like to admit is the issue of review merging. This is when a company has two products with one product ranking far higher in Amazon search and the result is that the company will merge the reviews for the better product with a lesser product in order for it to rank higher.
The result is that you can go to a product like a tablet case and see results for a phone case, which will immediately have you scratching your head. If you see this happen on a product you are looking to purchase, you should immediately pause and find an alternative that works better for your needs.
This is a prime example (pun intended) of brands attempting to game Amazon’s customer review section with Amazon having a difficult time keeping up with these instances and not removing them for many months.
How Can You Protect Yourself During Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days?
First and foremost, using a service like Fakespot should be your first line of defense when you think customer reviews on Amazon could be questionable. This is especially true during events like Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days when you are looking at items quickly in order to try and get an item before a lightning deal expires.
You can also look at another website known as reviewmeta.com, which analyzes Amazon product reviews and helps remove any reviews that its algorithm determines may not be real. By doing so, you can get a better look at reviews that are likely legitimate and use these to help make an informed purchase.
ReviewMeta even takes looking at Amazon customer reviews one step further by listing specific reviews you can read whereas Fakespot gives you an overall grade. As of October 2023, ReviewMeta indicates they have reviewed over 6.1 million products on Amazon in the U.S., which is bound to cover at least some of the products you are looking at purchasing.
At the end of the day, any purchase you make from Amazon without being able to test or demo a product is a bit of a gamble. Unlike in-person retail, you are taking a chance with every purchase that it’s a quality product even if it’s from an unknown manufacturer.
The good news is that, by using all of the tips and tricks above, you are well-prepared to identify which reviews might be false and those that are likely legitimate come Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Sergei Elagin/Shutterstock.com.