The topic of fake reviews is a perennial issue, because most consumers base their online shopping on the opinions of other buyers. The consumer center writes that customer ratings are the most important source of information for more than half of online buyers.
However, current cases show that one should not rely too heavily on the ratings under an article: Some Amazon sellers send bold letters to buyers and promise Amazon vouchers if they write a product rating with 5 stars.
Of course, the shopping voucher doesn’t exist if you don’t give the full 5 stars. But the purchased ratings are only part of the misleading of consumers.
In Germany, fake ratings can be punishable under certain circumstances.
Fake reviews and the penalties
Ratings are very important for online purchases, there are different strategies for fakes. On the one hand, you can give yourself better ratings and, for example, buy positive reviews, and on the other hand, you can also badmouth the competition with targeted negative reviews in order to look better yourself.
If one wants to harm the competition, the facts of the case may well be defamation. In Germany, such a crime carries a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years. The law against unfair competition (UWG) can also apply here.
The legal situation is somewhat different for purchased reviews in order to upgrade your own products. Anyone who accepts the deal described above and writes positive reviews on the Internet usually does not have to expect criminal consequences. In addition, it is difficult to prove that a product purchased was not worth a customer’s 5-star rating, with or without a voucher.
But even if no penalty is imminent, this type of manipulation violates the terms and conditions of the platforms and can lead to the user accounts being blocked. Amazon clearly states in its Community Rules:
Do not offer, solicit, or accept compensation for creating, editing, or posting any Content. Compensation includes free and discounted products, refunds and refunds.
Dealers who try to elicit good ratings from customers against payment commit a violation of competition law. If you get such a request after a purchase, you should report the merchant to the platform.
How to recognize fake reviews
Some fake reviews can be recognized at first glance. If a product has many reviews that sound the same, or if there are a lot of pure 5-star ratings without text, this is a sign of fakes. But also exaggeratedly long reviews fall out of the grid and are therefore suspicious. This also applies to too many superlatives or consistently positive reviews.
You can also consult a helper like ReviewMeta for Amazon product pages. It tries to recognize fake ratings and filters them out, so that the assessment of real customers should stop at the end.