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The Consumerist: "Belkin Caught Paying For Positive Review" (01/2009)

If you put stock in Amazon's "Customer Reviews" --



7:05 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

[I searched for Belkin here and didn't see this info posted anywhere. Apologies if it's redundant.]

Source: "The Consumerist [consumerist.com]"
("The Consumerist's parent company, Consumer Media LLC, is a subsidiary of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports..." - About Us [consumermediallc.org])

Belkin Caught Paying For Positive Reviews
Jan. 18, 2009

"Belkin Business Development Representative Michael Bayard has been caught offering to pay anyone willing to leave perfect reviews of Belkin products on Amazon, Buy.com, and Newegg. Even worse, the highly unethical strategy seems to have worked—almost fifteen pages worth of Belkin products on Amazon have perfect five-star ratings.

"Bayard brazenly hosted the fraud using Amazon's own Mechanical Turk...
(Continued [consumerist.com])

I've long heard rumors of faux-positive reviews on Amazon.com but never gave them much credence because I (mistakenly, apparently) thought reviewers actually had to buy that product through Amazon.com before they could post a review about it. So I've routinely evaluated products by their reviews. Until now.

Methinks I'll skip that Belkin surge protector I was just eyeballing, with its whopping 102 5-star (out of 121 total) "perfect reviews" ...


7:11 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I've seen just enough discussion around here about reviews to know that I trust few if any online reviews. Even if it's an entire site/forum talking about travel and in goes a few hotel comments - it might look to hard to game, but people are doing it anyway.

The trick? Don't get caught :).


7:57 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Review stuffing has been around forever but sites like the Consumerist have gotten it new press lately. I work quite a bit with travel sites and am often asked if reviews are reliable. My answer is to use 2 or more sites and primarily compare the negative reviews. Strongly discount all positive reviews unless they show significant topic knowledge. Completely discard any hype or brochure-worded posts. Pay attention to the dates they were posted, looking for suspicious groupings which can expose propagand as well as vendettas and also to weed out out-of-date reviews (definitely a problem in travel where management or ownership changes fairly frequently).


8:39 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

There are not only companies reviewing themselves, there are also review websites that generate random reviews and ratings to seem more important. I noticed an "international review site" of Italian origin that had reviews for all kinds of webpages. Blogs and other non shopping websites that where praised for fast delivery and the like. One of my own websites had six reviews - all posted in the same week - and all nonsense.


8:48 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Why the heck would anyone trust online "user generated" "reviews"?

Want a "review" that matters? Ask people you know in real life, and even then.... be careful about how much you believe.


8:56 pm on Feb 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I always look for the negative reviews and evaluate them. If the trend seems to indicate a problem with some important aspect of the product, I keep shopping. If the negatives are just issues of personal preference, I assume there's no major problem with the product and buy it based on the manufacturer's description or similar information.

As it stands, I've never been disappointed in any Belkin product I've purchased in the past, so I'll probably go on buying their stuff if I need it. (And no, I wasn't paid to say that! ;) )


3:39 pm on Feb 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

After many years in the small electrical appliance business I find most reviews are not worth the paper they are written on for 2 reasons.
1) Usually the people most motivated to write a review are the ones who don't like a product. The 98% who think it is great can't be arsed to write a review because they have no motivation.
2) The woeful technical expertise of most reviewers particularly so called "expert panelists" (some of who didn't know the difference between a slow cooker and an electric fry pan).

A certain UK consumer magazine (no names no pack drill)routinely "tests" products at random. When they make a basic mistake as happened to us a few years ago when they compared a steam generator iron unfavourably to a cheapo 5.99 special, the manufacturer is not allowed to come back and attempt to put things right. These people should be closed down, tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. (whatever that means)

My advice is don't listen to other people's opinions; make your own mind up. In the UK the current consumer legislation, particularly the odious "distance selling directive" is heavily biased against the supplier so you should have no problems returning things if they don't live up to the manufacturer's claims.


9:38 pm on Feb 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@ken_b: I agree, you don't take as Gospel everyone's opinions and experiences, on- or off-line

But you know how when you're sitting around a lunch table at work, you easily hear/ask about someone's new whatchamacallit, or someone else's whatta-piece-of-junk whatzit? Well, for this work-at-home geek, reviewers are akin to those chatty coworkers, some with opinions you value, and others you wish would just hushtheheckup:)

So I admit I review the reviews, both the positive and the negative. And often times I learn more about the product than the manufacturer-proffered descriptions provide. I also rate items (on Amazon.com & AmazonFresh.com -- a local service for me) using the 'stars' system, but haven't actually written a review.

Nice thing is, the majority of Amazon-sold items I've bought over the past few years have been as good or better than their average reviews.

(All except for one brand of organic candy sucker (w/ all-natural, healthy ingredients, etc.). All flavors rated tops, scores of people oohing and ahhing... To which I say: Hrrmph. From myself, to my mom and her two sisters (who'll eat anything sweet), to my sister (who's admittedly picky), to my husband (who'll eat anything), and his male coworkers (ditto) -- I couldn't give 'em away. They were uniformly despised; four different flavors literally thrown away after a few licks. Those all-glowing reviews... Real or fake? I wonder...)


12:25 am on Feb 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I've pretty much stopped writing reviews on Amazon because it is such a scam. They don't even try to weed out the obvious shills or the idiots who give good books one star because their book shipment arrived late or went missing.


12:30 am on Feb 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The trick? Don't get caught :)

You've got that right. Thing is, a lot of rigged reviews are not for companies or products that need to fake them. What they are after is review placement, prominence....It's just a marketing tool. They've got good products but are looking for every edge to get the business. Rigged reviews are so rampant that there is no need to be a part of pumping up a bad product. Not that that does not go on as well, but I would consider more of a secondary sidebar.


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