The Federal Trade Commission just outed a major supplement retailer operating from an Amazon storefront. The crime? False reviews farmed to sell their wares. It confirms that you must be careful when shopping online, even for the most popular brands.
Review hijacking isn’t new, but this latest scandal is undoubtedly eye-opening. Read on for more details on this shady practice.
How reliable are Amazon reviews?
The Bountiful Company, often shortened to Bountiful, has been caught “repurposing” reviews of more successful, older offerings and outfitting them to boost ratings and performance on newer products. It’s a process known as review hijacking.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the practice will not be tolerated and has charged Bountiful with review hijacking. The case against Bountiful marks the FTC’s first law enforcement challenge of review hijacking.
According to the FTC, Bountiful took advantage of an Amazon feature that allows vendors to create or request the creation of “variation” relationships between some products that are similar but differ only in narrow, specific ways — such as color, size, quantity or flavor.
The FTC is requiring that Bountiful pay $600,000 as monetary relief for consumers. The organization hopes to quell other brands’ interest in emulating this shady business approach.
Bountiful is the parent brand of bestsellers like Nature’s Bounty, Orgain and Sundown. Others include:
- Garden of Life.
- Vital Proteins.
- Persona Nutrition.
- Carnation Breakfast Essentials.
- Compleat Organic Blends.
Is tricking consumers the best way to increase product visibility? Hardly. Below, we share a few tips to shop smart on Amazon.
How to spot fake Amazon reviews
Shopping for products you’re familiar with online is easy. But you might run into trouble when looking for stuff you’ve never used, even if the reviews look great. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Multiple listings and reviews that are nearly identical.
- Extremely positive reviews with little substance.
- Too many reviews within a very short period.
- A bunch of unverified reviews.
- Too many five-star and four-star reviews.
Apps like ReviewMeta and Fakespot can comb through products with tons of reviews and determine whether the product is legit. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
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