Before You Order: Amazon’s Dark Side

Before You Order: Amazon’s Dark Side

With all apparent utopias, there is a dark under-belly that many do not see, and those who do are too late to do anything about it..

Amazon has single-handedly revolutionized the shopping industry as a whole. You can have nearly anything you can possibly desire show up at your doorstep in a couple days whereas, not too long ago, you had to wait much longer or even -- dare I say -- go out to the store and buy it yourself. Amazon accounted for nearly half of all online sales in the US last year, and 5% of retail sales as a whole. That may not seem like a lot, but for every twenty purchases made in the US, on average, one of those were made through Amazon.

With an online retail company growing so rapidly, aiming to make shopping a leisure task for the consumer, it would appear that Amazon is the perfect place to find anything and everything you need. However, with all apparent utopias, there is a dark under-belly that many do not see, and those who do are too late to do anything about it.

Strange Reviews on Amazon

The other day I was looking around for an adapter for my iPhone that would allow me to charge it and play music at the same time (a difficult task for iPhone 7 & above users). So, naturally, the first place I thought to look was Amazon. I was shown pages and pages of items that would allow me to do this, or hopefully try. Not wanting to be sold some cheaply made piece of garbage shipped straight from China, I did what most do and sorted by “average customer review,” that way I only have to look at the first page or so before I can find a good product -- that was the plan, at least.

Normally, a five-star rating and 500+ reviews would have been enough for me and I would place the order, but the typo in “adapter” (spelt “adepter”) tipped me off into thinking some of these reviews may be fake or possibly bots. Reading through some of them, a lot seemed to mention how “this sheet fits an XL perfectly” or how the product is “very soft and comfortable.” Quite peculiar. Maybe it’s a bug in Amazon showing me reviews for a different product? Oh well, I’ll try the next one. Only, on the next product, all of the questions in the Q&A asked “how long do these stay on for?” and “are these waterproof?” These questions may seem reasonable until you scroll down to see the images attached to the product reviews are all girls wearing fake eye-lashes. Why does this keep happening? I checked the page for established products, like the Amazon Echo, a Razer keyboard, and an Intel processor, but those pages were perfectly fine. Something fishy is going on here.

Don’t Fall Victim to Amazon Frauds

I decided to do a quick google search for why this might be happening, when I happened upon this article by Dennis Green from Business Insider. Apparently, Amazon sellers are able to edit pages of products after they are listed. Of course, this makes sense; there may be typos or information left out or this, that, or the other thing. Although the edits to the page are intended by Amazon to make sure the consumer knows what they are getting, but many sellers use this as a means to trick people into buying bad products.

What they’ll do is take a product page with many positive reviews, say, a sweater, for instance, and completely overhaul that page to sell a different product, say, a low quality microphone. That way, the page will show a high rating with a lot of reviews and people will buy that microphone thinking it’s as good as the rating would have it appear. Simply taking a gander at the reviews or Q&A section of page asking if the product has to be turned inside-out before machine-washing would be a dead giveaway, but many people don’t take the time to do this.

What Can I Do Now?

If you do become a victim to these fraudulent sellers on Amazon, you are essentially helpless. Most of these products that get sold this way are cheap little things that would cost more in postage to ship back to return than you actually paid for the product. A lot of these companies won’t even guarantee refunds; they’ll probably just send you the exact same item, perhaps in a different color, blaming it on faulty manufacturing -- faulty transparency is more like it. At this point, the only thing you can really do is take it up with Amazon Customer Services to have the company reported and, hopefully, taken off of the site.

Any page that you suspect is guilty of this tampering to mislead buyers should be reported to Amazon using the link here, where they will walk you through reporting a fraudulent seller so that they can better maintain the online shopping wonderland they have created.

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