Shariq Kazi

Perspectives writer

photo credit: Google

When shopping on Amazon, are your purchases influenced by the reviews a product may have? If so, you should take them with a grain of salt.

Amazon previously allowed items on their website to be reviewed for free. The seller would send out the product and the consumer would review it as long as it was disclosed in the written review that the item was received for free in exchange for a review. This occurred until October 3, 2016, when Amazon updated their guidelines for reviews. Chee Chew, one of Amazon’s bloggers (TAB), states, “We updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program.”

The problem became that vendors on Amazon could get through a loophole, and that was to have the reviewer purchase the item through Amazon and then get refunded through PayPal, which is a way to send money to someone online. Then, when a reviewer was writing a review, it would show “verified purchase” underneath the product they were selling because Amazon is only aware of the reviewer purchasing the item and didn’t receive a big discount or anything through the website. The free reviews help improve the seller’s product to be featured more frequently as suggested items in search engines because the seller makes the reviewer look for the product by different keyword searches which improve the algorithm. To top it off, the reviewer would give 5 stars to the product to keep working with the seller or to get their money back regardless of how the product may actually be. The only reviews that can be trusted are where it says “vine voice” next to the reviewer’s name. Reviewers receive products for free from Amazon and can only be invited into this program by Amazon based on how many people liked the reviewer’s reviews, which indicate that they’ve been helpful. The vine reviewers aren’t compensated for their review and are free to write positive and negative reviews. So next time you go on Amazon to shop, take the reviews you see with a grain of salt and consider looking at vine reviews and read negative reviews before reading the positive ones.