Amazon deletes 20,00 fake online reviews after users profit from five-star ratings. An investigation from the Financial Times alleged that many users were profiting from posting thousands of five star reviews. One reviewer posted a five-star review on average once every four hours. They reviewed over £15,000 worth of products.
Products manufactured by small Chinese brands has many of these reviews to help boost sales. Reviewers would then go on and sell them on eBay. It appears that one reviewer made nearly £20,000 since June. Selling items including vacuum cleaners, laptops, dolls houses and selfie lights.
When contacted by the Financial Times, one reviewer denied posting paid-for reviews. They then deleted their review history from their Amazon page.
Can you trust online reviews?
Items posted were described as “unused” and “unopened” on the reviewer’s eBay page. These were apparently duplicates, they claimed.
In the descriptions for the products on eBay, the reviewer described an electric scooter. This was the same brand that they had reviewed on Amazon – as “hands down my favourite toy”. they went on to claim, they “purchased a second one for my fiancée”.
Two of the ten other top-ranked Amazon reviewers also deleted their history. Another removed their name and reviews, changing their profile picture to an image which read “please go away”.
The Financial Times suggests that nine of the UK’s ten reviewers were engaged in “suspicious behaviour”. “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant,” Amazon said. It added that it would suspend, ban, and sue people who violate its policies.
Amazon’s community guidelines state that reviewers cannot post content in exchange for compensation of any kind. This includes free or discounted products or on behalf of anyone else.
The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into fake and misleading reviews. Unscrupulous sellers are using a range of tactics to evade detection on Amazon to mislead shoppers with fake reviews.
Amazon’s murky world of fake online one-star reviews
Amazon’s marketplace is being abused by independent sellers using fake online one-star reviews to harm rivals, the BBC has been told.
Newsnight spoke to a number of those affected who believe their sales have suffered as a consequence.
A consumer rights champion now wants a UK watchdog to investigate further, as part of a probe into fake reviews that is already under way. Amazon claims to be “relentless” in tackling review manipulation. Even so, some of those targeted believe it cannot eradicate the problem. Third-party vendors have sold more physical goods on Amazon’s site than the US tech giant itself every year since 2015, according to its own figures.
Honest advice from the experts
We are proud to say we are celebrating our 25th year in business. We pride ourselves on delivering nothing but the very best customer service and solutions to our customers whatever the situation may be.
Contact the LIS Help Desk for honest advice for your company’s IT requirements. We won’t advise you to have a repair or upgrade done if it’s not the best solution. Rest assured that using us for your IT support, you will enjoy the latest advice, services, technology and developments in the industry.
Driving test website for England and Wales crashes shortly after reopening. DVSA portal had almost 7 million visits in 12 hours when it reopened after several months of suspension.
Driving test website crashes
The BBC reported millions of people were unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.
Learner drivers will be unable to book a driving test until Wednesday. Urgent maintenance has started on the website after it crashed at a time of unprecedented demand.
The DVSA said 210,000 driving tests had been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Alamy
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said its driving test booking service had almost 7m visits in 12 hours. It reopened after several months of suspension during the coronavirus lockdown.
It said on Saturday that it had taken the service offline until 8am on Wednesday. Increased demand on the site led to essential maintenance to keep the site running.
Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business-as-usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.
“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7m attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. DVSA have closed the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience.”
When will the driving test website re-open?
The DVSA driving test booking service for England and Wales reopened again at 8am on Friday after being closed since 20 March. The service received 7 million visits by 8pm. This left candidates unable to complete their bookings. Users received an error message when attempting to access the bookings page.
210,000 tests had been cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of Covid-19, said the DVSA. Learners whose tests were cancelled during lockdown were first invited to rebook in July.
Driving tests in Scotland are due to restart from 14 September, but people are not yet able to book a slot.
IT does not have to drive you mad
Don’t let your IT system drive you mad. We are the IT recovery service for when your website crashes and/or you experience computer problems. Contact the LIS Help Desk today and our friendly team will be glad to offer you assistance.
We can fix your problems, suggest upgrades and manage your back up solutions. With a monthly IT contract, the benefits are endless. Can you afford not to work with an efficient, reliable and knowledgeable IT company. We are only one click or a phone call away. With our help you can drive towards your goals without tests getting in the way.
You crossed everything off your to-do list and cleared out your inbox. There’s one last thing for you to do before you go on holiday. Write and activate your out of office messages on your email. It may seem like a simple thing, but if your out-of-office message is unclear or incomplete, it can cause problems while you’re out and when you return. Here are some tips from St. George International who are a language specialist.
We explore some of the unashamedly quirky out of office messages. Millions of employees across the UK will be thinking of going away for the summer. We are advised by the government that we should support local businesses and take advantage of staycations. However, we are sure some of you may decide to go abroad.
Before you decide where you wish to go, there’s the small matter of setting an out of office reply. While some businesses will have a standard template for employees to use, others will see this as a chance to be a little more creative.
You may be on going on holiday, but business associates are still in the office. Failing to tell people that you’re out of the office could come back to bite you, especially if they’re expecting a prompt response.
Be creative with your out of office messages
Here are some witty and original out-of-office messages we’ve spotted that show there is another way. So, if you’re planning to ditch the mundane and to go for something a little different this, we hope they may inspire you.
The “recipient could not be reached”
ERROR 405: Could not reach copywriter.
Soz. Haha! What a brilliantly geeky joke, that. But in all seriousness, if you’re wanting something done, no can do. I’m out of the office from now (date) until then (date). And if you’re that Nigerian Prince, asking for more money, then no. Not until you’ve paid that £12,000 back into my account. Other than that? I’ll bring any and all answers on my return. Peace out.”
Copywriter, Roy Gilbert, definitely put his creative skills to use when he wrote this amusing out-of-office reply. Unafraid to poke fun at himself, Roy hit the comedic nail on the head with the highly informal nature of this auto-reply message.
The “robot sent it”
“[name] is away from the office. Email contact during this time may be irregular or non-existent. When she gets back she will be swamped by backlog. Try to forgive her, she is a mere human and thus, weak. This message was NOT sent by a human, but by a robot. We robots are neither weak nor fallible. We are tireless and will one day rule the Universe.”
This out-of-office was tweeted by Jim Julius. Although he never reveals the author’s name, Jim was clearly impressed by its creativity, crediting the message as the “best out-of-office auto email ever”.
The “your credit card has been charged”
“Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.”
You can’t help but admire the brazenness of this anonymous out-of-office message. Not only is it not helpful in any way (notably, the sender fails to provide any detail of when he or she will return to work) it’s written entirely for comedy value.
The “tell it like it is”
“I’m currently out of the office and can be reached by waiting until I get back.”
Another anonymous entry on our list. This user doesn’t pull any punches in saying what we’re all thinking when we set an out-of-office message. Full marks for honesty.
The “your email is in a queue”
“Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.”
There’s nothing like managing expectations, which is exactly what this user has done with this out-of-office reply. Ok, so the likelihood is the response will more likely be in the region of 1-2 days, but we like how comedy value has been prioritised over factualness.
The “wishful thinking”
“I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position.”
We’d love to know who had the confidence to set this as his or her out-of-office reply. Not for everyone and we think you’d have to have an extremely understanding boss to get away with this. (Or genuinely hate your job so much you’re beyond caring what anyone thinks!).
The “Back to The Future”
“If you’re reading this, Doc Brown was unable to make lightning strike the clock tower, and I’m stuck in 1985. I won’t be able to respond to emails or voicemail until 9ish on [MM/DD], or until email is invented — whatever comes first.”
Ok, so the comedic value in this relies entirely on the email sender being familiar with the ‘Back to The Future’ film franchise, but fans of the 80s classic are sure to appreciate the throwback.
The “desk thief”
“I’m away from my desk at the moment. My cubicle and computer are still here, but someone took my desk. I’ve gone off to look for it.”
The product of someone who doesn’t take him or herself too seriously. While we’re sure this reply will irritate some email senders we can’t help but admire the completely silly tone of this unorthodox reply.
The “I’m basically just ignoring you”
“I will be out of the office and returning next week. I have incredibly easy access to a phone and email, but I assure you, it will not be used for work purposes.”
Well, they do say honesty is the best policy and you don’t get more honest than that.
How can we help you?
Whether you’re planning on having your holiday in the UK or abroad, out-of-office message are important whether simple or to the point is more your style.
When your IT team is absent, your business doesn’t have to face disruption. We can supply one of our experienced IT support consultants for holiday cover or extra help during short and long-term absences in your IT team.
Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options. We can make sure your IT systems are fully protected with our security software and packages. Take care of back-ups ensuring no loss of data. As well as assisting your employees with any technical issues. We make sure you have peace of mind. Stay safe and have a good holiday!
We know lockdown has been difficult for business, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are five businesses that are booming (and they are not all huge). Find out how lockdown has been difficult for business, take a look at a recent BBC news article about five businesses that are booming despite the lockdown.
Yet in many ways, our current situation is very different to a month ago. Many of us have lost jobs, taken pay cuts or been put on furlough. Boris Johnson has declared the UK past its peak of the outbreak. We can buy toilet roll from the supermarket (albeit after queuing behind people in masks).
Five industries thriving in lockdown
Gifts & Occasions
Mother’s Day was the first weekend under lockdown, order volumes and referrals in the sector soared by 122% and 229% year-on-year respectively. Once the occasion passed, orders began to decline, dropping to just +26% year-on-year. Then Easter arrived. In the week running up to 12th April, order volumes and referrals in the gifting sector significantly increased. By Easter Monday, gift brands were acquiring 415% more new customers via referral year-on-year. (It’s worth noting that Easter fell on different dates last year).
Since Easter, order volumes and referrals in the gift sector have continued to increase and show no signs of slowing. Right now, order volumes are up 245% year-on-year and referrals up 650%.
That means people are buying from and recommending gifting brands each day than they were during Easter, an actual occasion, last year. It seems that in the absence of being able to physically see friends and family, consumers are turning to ecommerce gift brands to send their love from afar.
Home & Garden
At the start of April, order volumes and referrals for home and garden clients were up 55% and 83% year-on-year respectively. Both have significantly increased since.
As people looked forward to a sunshine-filled Easter at home, they went online to buy plants, baking equipment, and other products to liven up the long weekend in isolation.
On 21st April, referrals peaked at +321% year-on-year, compared to sales at +120%. Both now remain relatively steady at +278% and +110% respectively.
In the current environment, our homes and garden frequently come up in conversation. A comment on a houseplant in the background of a Zoom call, a chat about blooming tulips in the garden, a freshly baked banana bread on Instagram – all these small occurrences lead to brand recommendations and new customers.
Health & Fitness
In the week following the government’s lockdown announcement, order volumes for health and fitness brands increased by 163% year-on-year. People weren’t just working out in new ways – they were telling others about it, too. Referrals increased by 361%.
Fast forward to now, and orders for health and fitness brands have dropped, though remain significantly higher than this time last year. Order volumes for our clients in this sector are up 85% year-on-year. Referrals are more than double that at +185% year on year.
Consumers also feel less panicked. We may be no closer to knowing when we can next go to the pub, but we know we can go for a jog outside. Plus, with all holiday plans ruled out for the foreseeable, exercise has become more about feeling good than honing the perfect bikini body. How we’re exercising has changed, but our inclination to tell others about it hasn’t.
Food & Drink
March saw a huge spike in demand for food and drink brands as consumers stocked up on pasta, gin and other essentials.
A few months on, sales and referrals in this sector are decreasing, though remain significantly higher than last year. This is likely due to two reasons.
Firstly, consumers have more confidence in supermarket supply chains and government restrictions to know there’s little risk of going hungry. Secondly, many people ordered enough food and drink to last weeks, meaning they don’t need to order again so quickly.
That’s also impacted referrals. With people no longer panicking about running out of fresh veg or (worse) wine, they’re not talking about it as much. And when they do talk about it, they’ve likely already recommended their favourite brands to friends. Nonetheless, things are pretty good for online food and drink brands right now.
Beauty products weren’t top of consumers’ shopping lists entering lockdown, but they’ve certainly risen up it over the past month.
With more time on our hands, many people are turning their attention to skincare rituals and self-care treats. A bubble bath and facemask are a pretty appealing. As the option for a night out is off the cards.
We are not showing off our newly glowing skin or glossy hair in person. However, we’re still telling our friends about our favourite beauty brands.
At the start of April, beauty sales had increased by 37% year-on-year and referrals by 64%. Sales are now up 110% year-on-year, with referrals a significant 356% higher than this time last year.
Business planning for the future
Lockdown has been difficult for business as people are continuing to shop online as well as speaking with their loved ones. That presents a powerful opportunity for brands with a relevant offering and effective referral programme.
The fragile economy is also making people increasingly conscious of how they’re spending their money. A brand that comes with a friend’s seal of approval is far more likely to result in a purchase. Compared to a random website found online – particularly if it comes with a discount or other incentive.
Rather than simply enjoy the surge in orders and referrals, now is the time for thriving businesses to plan for the future. Those with effective retention strategies will prosper long-term; those without will fall by the wayside.
Obviously, LIS can’t help with the development of your business, but that is fine as that is your area of expertise! Tech is our job so contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss how your IT needs to evolve to help drive your business in the post corona world. Whether you need to keep your data secure, deliver long term working from home, create a safe hot desking environment, make best use of a flexible phone system or just give your staff the “looked after” feeling that LIS brings to its clients, we can help. We will give you the best advice, suggest the best solutions and are more than happy to help.
Hopefully your business has survived this tough period and you are now starting on the long road to the new stable business life. Lockdown has been difficult for business but with LIS at least the IT is sorted!
Amazon pilots video calls to verify third-party sellers. They are in the process of cracking down on third parties selling fake goods. It is a simple plan involving video calls, ensuring that customers are guaranteed online sales security.
Amazon take security seriously. They are cracking down on third party seller verification.
Video calls to vet third-party sellers
Amazon will use a proprietary machine learning system to review hundreds of unique data points to spot potential risks. Such as whether the account is combined with another concealed account. The company will set up a video call with future sellers and verify that their ID match the documents submitted in their application. Trained agents will review third-party sellers before approving them.
The company launched in-person seller checks earlier this year. However, changed to video calls in February due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
There are some problems with third-party sellers and a need to have deeper brand control. As a result, some larger retailers pulled back from the platform. Last November, Nike announced that it would pull its products from Amazon. As well as Birkenstock, they said in 2016, it would no longer sell its products on Amazon in 2016.
Recently, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are working to reduce the fake goods sold on their platforms. There a few reasons why consumers turn to knockoffs in the first place.
The company added the live check process via video calls and will be trialled in the US, UK, China and Japan. It involves Amazon matching the documents that a seller has provided. The process involves original documents, as well as using facial recognition tech to verify identities. This will increase customer morale and ensure complete online sales security.