It’s almost Christmas and I’ve been doing all my shopping for friends and family online this year at the only place I ever shop… even when it’s not the holidays: Amazon.
I was trying to get ideas for a few folks so I was scrolling through the Amazon Window Shop app on my iPad. The firs time I used this app I was sort of in a rush and didn’t really understand it’s value over just browsing Amazon normally; after an hour with it and 10 new gift ideas for myself, family and friends that are all fantastic, I think it’s a wonderful addition to the Amazon shopping experience and would use it again.
ANYWAY, I digress…
An interesting feature of the Window Shop app is a category called “Peculiar Products” that contained a myriad of completely random, kooky, fun and bullshit products. What I meant by bullshit is that the products are fake. They don’t exist and Amazon doesn’t sell them from what I can tell.
Some quick examples:
- Uranium Ore
- 1 Gallon of Tuscan Whole Milk
- Fresh Whole Rabbit
- “Parent Child Test” – $10,000
- Denon AKDL1 Link Cable (Thanks MrKevvy!)
I doesn’t bother me that test or fake/non-existent items are in the Amazon catalog (I probably wasn’t going to buy them anyway), what bothers me is that they literally have thousands of reviews on them.
Just the fake Tuscan Whole Milk product alone has over 1,200 reviews, all of which are intentionally over the top and meant to be funny (which most of them are). Some of the individual fake reviews themselves have 100s of comments; using the Amazon review system more like a 4chan forum post than a product review.
Again, I don’t actually care about the fake posts. I find them hugely entertaining to read. What bothers me is apparently how easy it is to create reviews on products that doesn’t exist by people that either don’t exist or have never bought them.
I’m not looking for the ultimate/locked down system. Obviously shoppers have to do more research than just looking at Amazon reviews when buying something important, but it really bothers me that for my smaller purchases where I do only look at Amazon, that I might be exclusively reading planted material and nothing legit in some rare cases.
If you have any favorite fake products on Amazon, let us know and we’ll add them to the article.
Update #1: For what it’s worth, IMDB (an Amazon-owned company) is having additional problems with it’s scores being gamed.
Update #2: A few folks on Slashdot left comments to the effect of “It’s funny, laugh and forget about it“. I want to clarify again, I have no problem with the *contents* of the comments, they are funny. I have a problem with how game-able Amazon’s review system apparently is, because I rely on that system to give me legit feedback for products I spend a lot of money on really frequently.
Update #3: Slashdotter DanTheStone provided a good way for shoppers to stay a bit safer when reading product reviews:
This is why Amazon likes to show you the top-rated positive comment and the top-rated negative comment. It’s why they have reviewer ratings and the “Vine” program. It’s why they have the whole meta-rating system in the first place. Don’t ever take the star score at face value. Put more weight behind confirmed real names. Read review comments. It’s not that hard to figure out.
Update #4: Slashdotter Mr.44 pointed out that Amazon does provide indicators of “Verified Purchaser” reviews to help when reading people’s comments:
There is still a question about if Amazon ranks reviews from verified purchasers higher or lower and how that effects the star rating that most people used as a “go/no-go” indicator when shopping on Amazon.