Companies Fill "Customer Review" Sections With Fakes
If you've ever bought or rented something online, you've probably spent some time reading user reviews on sites like Yelp before making a decision -- after all, 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as personal recommendations. To most people, a five-star Amazon rating is the same thing as their best friend telling them to buy that book.
Also, 72 percent of consumers named the Internet as their best friend.
Sure, the cynical among us know that some of those reviews are planted by the sellers -- they're the ones that are a little too transparent in quoting the manufacturer's ad campaign ("I found that this vacuum cleaner provided a revolutionary cleaning experience thanks to its cutting edge Vortex(TM) technology"), but if you had to guess, what percentage of reviews are fakes? Five percent? Ten percent?
More like up to 30 percent -- almost one in every three reviews you read could be plants, depending on the product. So where do companies get so many fake reviews? The answer is that, like anything else in the world, you can buy them online.
"Reputation Warehouse, this is Linda speaking, how may I up your street cred?"
Yes, there are sites exclusively devoted to this. In 2010, Todd Rutherford started the (now defunct) website GettingBookReviews.com, which would write a positive review of a client's book on Amazon for $99. For those looking for even more praise, $499 got you 20 reviews and $999 got you 50. Rutherford ended up making $28,000 a month selling bullshit reviews, mostly to freelance writers who wanted publicity for their self-published books. And it worked: Author John Locke commissioned a shitload of fake reviews from Rutherford and, within five months, he became the first-ever person to sell a million e-books.
"Short answer: Put legs on the cover. Also, by cheating."