From fake news to fake everything
Muse #158 - where is the end to this? Buyer beware.
Buying something? The process has become extremely stymieing and intimidating. Requiring a lot more effort. And this is true in fact with even the largest of the online stores.
First, you need to decide on what to buy when you are buying something. Now, this has become the domain of fake reviews. It is estimated that over 60%-80% of reviews especially the five-star and four-star ones are fake, paid for, and/or engineered. Recently Amazon and Google had removed millions of reviews for various products from their sites, but the enormously sheer volume of these are still out there. So for each product, you need to work backward from the bottom of the lowest review and read all the way to the 3-star reviews to make some sense of these patterns before deciding.
And I read this associated report that on platforms like Instagram over 55% of the so-called influencers peddle fake products (with our 45% of the accounts not a person at all, but automated accounts)
Then there are fake products and fake write-ups. I had talked about searching for 100% cotton T-shirts on Amazon and I get several on the search results which have “Cotton” on the title, but then in the small print of the specifications, it says 100% polyester or 70% polyester, 30% rayon and so forth. Optimized for your search with fake titles and fake specs.
If you cross this on Amazon, you now have Fake Prime shipping. Amazon allows vendors to ship it on their own (instead of from Amazon warehouses) - and meet certain shipping guidelines. So there are a ton of Fake Prime offers. Here in Canada products that are shipped from the US (will certainly not reach in the promised two days Prime) or the UK (still promising 2-3 day delivery) and to take the cake a 3-day shipping promise from China (the last time I fell for it, the product came after 45 days). Sometimes these don’t arrive at all, and a couple of times they missed the cut-off for complaining with Amazon for a refund.
And there is a new thing that started with a product I bought - paid reviews. A few days ago, I ordered a desk lamp to place on my computer table (nothing fancy for $30) and they included a way to write a review and email them and they will send a $10 Amazon Gift card for the review. A similar larger scam offers for free products for five-star reviews (so that the purchases have Amazon Verified purchaser status) - where the consumer gets the product for me in exchange for a review (whether they use/keep the product or not)
So in a nutshell, the simplicity of the online buying process has now become extremely complex. So, buyer beware and if you think something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
Influencer marketing and authenticity - https://marketoonist.com/2021/06/influencer-2.html
Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain - https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/uk-watchdog-opens-formal-probe-into-amazon-google-over-fake-reviews-2021-06-25/
Amazon Fake Reviews Scam Exposed in Data Breach - https://www.safetydetectives.com/blog/amazon-reviews-leak-report/