Fake Feedback: It’s Not All That Positive

Fake Feedback: It’s Not All That Positive

Let's face it! Since even supermarkets have started delivering to homes, it's tempting to order all the essentials through an app rather than going to the store personally. We login to our profiles, open the list of the products for purchase, pay using a debit card, Paypal, or something of the sort, and we wait. The only thing we have to do is sit comfortably on the couch watching the last episode of our favorite TV series until the "delivery man," a little out of breath, knocks on the door, shopping bags in hand. We live in the era of e-commerce and services where everything is just a click away; a historical period that has brought about a radical change in less than 20 years not only in the way we buy, but also in the ways of relating, moving, and experiencing feelings publicly.

From Advice to Feedback

How many times before a purchase do we turn to a family member or a close friend to ask for advice? And how many times do we put our trust in accounts of various buyers who have already purchased that product and who perhaps have left a positive review with 5 stars to the seller by writing satisfactory reviews in the feedback page to convince us to buy that product?
At this point, we are constantly bombarded on our social networks and on our browsers by a huge amount of advertising that advise us what, how, when, and why to purchase a particular product – spurred above all by the fact that sometimes 100% of the feedbacks on the object and on the seller are positive. Are we sure that what is written is true? Is there no doubt that that comment is not, in reality, sincere but rather hides something?

The Impact of Reviews during the Purchasing Process

The reality is that we are easily subject to someone else’s influence. Who can tell what impact reviews have on the online purchase process? Regarding this issue, it is interesting to have a look to the study conducted by the Trustpilot review platform from last March. A sample of 1,800 individuals was given a survey aimed at finding out how people use reviews and how much they manage to influence the buyer in the price/purchase comparison process. The worrying fact is that "9 out of 10 people take into account the opinions of others during purchases and that 41% check the review sites before buying something, so there is no doubt that customer reviews condition decisions related to the purchase." But what if false reviews were to influence us?

Fake Feedback

The Internet offers enormous possibilities to compare prices and products. Traditional advertising no longer has such a great capacity for persuasion – especially for the new generations. What marketing strategy can a vendor implement today to get the attention of consumers and sell their products? The answer is simple: checking the reviews.
This check is based on a simple methodology: "everyone wins." You buy a product, leave a positive review on the platform, and are then reimbursed for the full purchase, which remains in your possession anyway. An additional payment for this favor of leaving a positive review is also possible.

Scouring the web and social media, you can find many groups that deal with the so-called review market and guarantee a return commonly called cashback. Here’s how it works: we ask for admission or we write directly to a specific group; the inscription connects us with a seller that offers a list of products or services that can be accessed (Witailer.com); once the product or service has been chosen and the seller has received the ok, it will be possible to finalize the purchase, leaving a 100% positive feedback immediately after. In a few days, we will be re-credited with the amount plus, maybe, some compensation through the previously agreed payment system.
The phenomenon of fake feedback and cashback is influencing many companies in the e-commerce market, including Amazon, Ebay, and Tripadvisor which are trying to implement actions that contrast the black market of reviews. This struggle, albeit difficult, aims to protect honest buyers who would like to make trades in peace, considering the reviews might be honest.

Are There Actions to Mitigate the Risk of Fake Feedback?

Currently there is no effective method to help identify false reviews.
The only available tool is the common sense of the buyer! When you intend to buy an object or dine in a specific restaurant, for example, you should avoid falling into the trap of excessive positive reviews and take the time to analyze the negative ones first, which can most easily be left by "real" people who honestly – and without rewards – decide to express their personal opinion on the matter. It seems a foregone thing but, in a digital world full of forgers, finding honest people who, through their accounts, give credible feedback, turns out to be a real utopia. Is it worth risking using only online stores, then? Or could a solution be to go back to “vintage” ways of in-person shopping?