Online Reviews, Story Ads & Amazon’s Problem

Someone last week emailed me an article by a pretty good financial tools website called Motley Fool. It was an article featuring a new credit card that they described as having “lucrative rewards and monstrous perks…sign up today while the card is still available…”

Sorry, but nothing in there is monstrous or lucrative and even more bad news: If you scroll down to the very last tiny font line it states that “this is a promotional message.” In other words, the company is being paid to send out this ad in the form of an article! No need to compare cards as this pretend article is guised in the form of a review.

Most people that buy online do look at a few reviews before they make a purchase. And, since Amazon is the giant in the online purchasing world, that’s the place people need to be careful. Since vast numbers of shoppers do the purchases on their phone, they tend to only look at the first two or three reviews and then buy, without scrolling down to pages and pages of other feedback.

The rumours have been around for some time that Amazon’s reviews are manipulated and can’t be trusted. Now, as first reported by Clark Howard, Amazon has admitted to it. Employees have taken bribes to take down negative reviews.

Why does it happen? You have to remember that most products are sold by 3rd parties on Amazon. Those sellers list on Amazon and mostly have the items shipped through Amazon for big fees and commissions. It’s their main source of sales and if the top two reviews are negative, people will move on.

For other sites, it might not be manipulations, but you have to remember that many – if not most – are sponsored sites. The sites get paid by companies to be prominently featured. If they’re not – they’ll stop paying to be on the site! In other words, you’re not getting a full or accurate rating on them. That’s something that the Wall Street Journal has documented for years.

Two of those are Canadian mortgage rates comparison sites:ratesupermarket.ca and rate and ratespy.com. Lenders pay to be on there, so you will see what those who are paying want you to see!

The best evidence of this is a recent ad by Angie’s list. It’s a site to find a variety of home contractors. “Angie’s list has selected millions of customer reviews…” Did you catch that? The words are: has selected – because they’re known to cut negative reviews, or those contractors won’t pay to be on their site! An investigative report found that they do that some years ago already.

Be careful when you’re looking at reviews or paid ads that seem like articles, and always scroll down to more than the first two or three reviews before you make a purchasing decision.

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

1 thought on “Online Reviews, Story Ads & Amazon’s Problem

  1. RateSpy

    Hi there George,

    Saw your note about mortgage rates. Thought a quick clarification might help your readers.

    Canada has four major mortgage rate comparison sites:

    RateSpy.com
    RateHub.ca
    RateSupermarket.ca
    LowestRates.ca

    Only one, RateSpy, shows rates from *all* prime mortgage lenders. It is the only mortgage rate comparison site to permit any reputable lender or broker to post competitive rates for free.

    As a result, we have at least 4 times the rate options of our nearest competitor and more choice = more savings. We invite you to compare and see the difference: https://www.ratespy.com/

    All the best!

    Your friends at the Spy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.