Amazon slated for misleading bundled reviews

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Amazon were pulled up by the Guardian recently for bundled reviews on products which might seem essentially the same but were in fact quite different.

The main thrust of the Guardian article concerned books, both physical print and ebooks for the Kindle. The problem is that whilst a printed book from a publisher is pretty much going to be spot on, barring the odd typesetting issue, Kindle books vary enormously in quality. Some have been translated, by it would appear nothing much more sophisticated than a free online translation program, and the results are laughable.

Mother becomes ‘mom’, gentleman becomes ‘guy’ and friends become ‘buddies’, and that from authors as esteemed as Charles Dickens and Jane Austin.

The issue is that Amazon assign reviews from Kindle versions to print versions and vice versa, in fact Amazon allow you to buy both from the same page sometimes with just the click of a button to change the format. This means that reviews extolling the virtues of a print edition are used to flog cheap badly composed Kindle versions and the unsuspecting public, seeing a ton of great reviews, doesn’t know the difference until they start trying to read their 99p Kindle version.

The Guardian state that bundled reviews don’t just apply to books however but say they’re present in electronics and gardening categories too.

One possible cause could be that some ASINs have overtime been edited an the essential product details altered, but bundling reviews appears to be much deeper, especially when different product types are combined on Single Product Detail pages.

If you have had issues with less desirable bundled reviews from other products appearing against your Amazon listings let us know. It would be interesting to get an idea of the scale of the problem, even from an anecdotal point of view.

6 Responses

  1. The trouble with Amazon, no the general public, is that Amazon has an almost God like status.
    If Amazon say that it’s true, then it must be correct.

    We now experience this every couple of days as a third party seller.
    Royal Mail confirm delivery but Amazon tells the customer that it may be delayed or lost.
    The customer believes amazon over Royal Mail, and starts making waves.
    Always Amazon customers and very very rarely from ebay buyers.

    The issue has been going on for many months according to the forums, but Amazon don’t care. As an A-z claim will only be at the sellers expense, even with tracking showing delivery.

    One day the “suckers” will realise the prophet will not save them.

    I’ll get off me soap box now B-).
    Beam me up Scotty.

  2. Yes, good Guardian article, really topical for me.

    I bought a £400 consumer durable from Amazon recently, based on a very high overall rating (4.8), and a huge numbers of good reviews (almost 1000). It was only later that I noticed that almost none of the reviews, under the listing, referred to the actual machine that I’d bought! I feel that I bought mediocre rated product on false pretenses.

    What use are reviews if they are bundled this way? I don’t want a review of every washing machine – only the one I am considering buying!

    It’s clearly a policy change, as it is now something on multiple products/categories. Perhaps the “Default” option (‘Relevance’) is something clients pay for?

    For a long time Amazon had three main advantages for buyers (1) Couldn’t find cheaper (2) Had the ratings system (3) Convenient. Looks like they might end up with just the last of these – an opportunity for rivals, perhaps?

  3. 2nd attempt at submission
    ===
    The trouble with Amazon, no the general public, is that Amazon has an almost God like status.
    If Amazon say that it’s true, then it must be correct.

    We now experience this every couple of days as a third party seller.
    Royal Mail confirm delivery but Amazon tells the customer that it may be delayed or lost.
    The customer believes amazon over Royal Mail, and starts making waves.
    Always Amazon customers and very very rarely from ebay buyers.

    The issue has been going on for many months according to the forums, but Amazon don’t care. As an A-z claim will only be at the sellers expense, even with tracking showing delivery.

    One day the “suckers” will realise the prophet will not save them.

    I’ll get off me soap box now B-).
    Beam me up Scotty.

  4. Variation misuse is a massive problem on Amazon at the moment. Sellers are adding totally different products or very loosely related products as variations of established product listings to take advantage of their reviews. It has become more prevalent with bans on incentivised reviews. It is something Amazon needs to clamp down on and I would expect it will lead to seller suspensions in the future.

  5. This is a very big issue in the Music category with the mushrooming in the number of versions of a particular release. Amazon’s catalogue is a real mess compared to DISCOGS.

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