Retailers misleading consumers with “inflated” customer reviews — Which?

customer reviews
// Which? warned customers of inflated reviews of poor quality products from big retailers
// Some products Which? tested, with bad results, got more than 4 stars on Argos, Amazon, Currys, John Lewis

Some of the UK’s biggest retailers could be misleading consumers with “inflated” customer reviews of poor quality products, new research has found.

According to consumer lobby group Which?, 15 products it had rated as “Don’t Buys” were found to have scored four stars or higher based on online customer reviews at Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis.

“Don’t Buy” is a label Which? gives to goods that fail its independent testing.

In one case, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones scored just 28 per cent in Which? tests but received an average rating of 4.2 stars at Amazon and 4.7 stars at Argos.

The four-plus star reviews came despite Which? experts describing the products as having “awful sound” and “low battery life”.

Meanwhile, the Nikon Coolpix A10 camera was rated an average of 4.6 stars in customer reviews at Argos and 4.5 at Currys, despite achieving a score of 34 per cent by Which? due to its “slow start-up time” and “poor image stabilisation”.

The Fusion5 14″ laptop was rated a Which? “Don’t Buy” with a score of 45 per cent for being “slow” with “terrible sound” and a “poor battery life” but achieved four stars on Amazon.

The Black & Decker SVJ520BFS 2in1 Dust Buster scored 4.6 at Argos and 3.8 stars at Amazon but just 32 per cent in Which? tests, which described it as “awful at cleaning carpets”.

Which? warned of the “limitations” of customer reviews, highlighting how many were submitted based on first impressions of a product rather than usage over time.

The consumer added it had also heard from consumers who felt rushed into leaving a review within just a week of buying a product, and some cited incentives such as competition entries and future discounts from the retailer.

Which? also said pointed to the way some customer reviews could be influenced by good customer service and the speed with which the item was delivered, rather than the actual quality of the product.

“Our research suggests that you should take online customer reviews with a pinch of salt as they can be based on limited first impressions, and other factors not directly related to the quality of the product,” Which? head of home products and services Natalie Hitchins said.

“If you want a high-performing product that will last you well, you need to look beyond customer reviews and seek out independent, thorough test results.”

Currys PC World said: “We currently have 1.5 million customer reviews on our website facilitated by independent review platform Reevoo.

“Customers are asked to give both positive and negative feedback.

“While these reviews are filtered for obscenities and spam, they aren’t edited in any way by us or Reevoo.

“These reviews are made at least 28 days after delivery of the product, giving customers fair time to get to know the item.

“Customers tell us that they value reviews from both experts and fellow customers to help them choose the right product for them.”

John Lewis said: “Our customers have no reason to ‘inflate’ their reviews of our products.

“We ask our customers to write honest reviews and to focus precisely on the product they’re reviewing, and we use an independent moderation system to ensure this is the case.”

Argos said: “All of our reviews are genuine. We offer all customers the chance to review products and publish reviews regardless of their rating.”

Amazon did not comment.

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