April 26, 2016 Last Updated 8:37 am

Amazon goes after fake product reviews, while delivering delicious food

Online retailer files lawsuit to try and put an end to paid reviews that promise to drive up rankings and sales, while cluttering up product listings with worthless opinions

Man, I miss living in the Bay Area. Now, I’ll miss it even more, as Amazon today announced that Prime Now customers in San Francisco can now enjoy one-hour delivery from local restaurants. That wouldn’t be a big deal where I live now, after all Dominos already delivers, as does Jimmy Johns – and as that is the extent of the restaurants here (well, not quite)…

The less tasty news is that Amazon has decided it has had enough of the fake reviews found inside its service.

The Seattle Times reports that Amazon has filed suit against the owner of amazonverifiedreviews.com (which currently shows no live website), which as the name suggests, will provide your book or other product with a very favorable review for a price.

Another target is paidbookreviews.org which says that it offers two kinds of reviews for hire:

We offer two types of book reviews:

  1. Unverified Book Reviews: We read the sample pages of your book on Amazon.com, then post positive comments under customers reviews.
  2. Verified Book Reviews: We purchase your book and read it on kindle, then post positive comments about your book on Amazon.

Fake, or purchased if you will, reviews are a common occurrence. A trip through iTunes will see plenty of them. Amazon and Apple have tried to tamp this down a bit, with Amazon labeling reviews by buyers as “Verified Purchase” which is certainly helpful.

But the reason this can be big business for these companies is that there are now so many authors who are self-publishing. The flood of books into services such as Amazon has created a situation where there is more money to be made selling book production services and book marketing services. Authors (and small publishers) who were told that there was gold in them thar hills find the truth is a bit different.

An author, for instance, can buy five reviews from one of these services for $125, or up to 100 reviews for $2,200. One could imagine what some listings on Amazon would look like with 100 paid reviews.

Amazon, because it takes two to tango, wants the sellers of these services to also name those buying those services. In other words, they are going after the authors, too.

“A very small minority of sellers and manufacturers attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage by creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews for their products on Amazon.com. While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” Amazon said in its lawsuit.

Apparently this is just the start of Amazon’s get tough approach.

“This action is a continuation of Amazon’s efforts to deter bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews. In addition to the other relief sought, through this action Amazon will identify additional dishonest sellers and manufacturers who purchase fraudulent reviews and take enforcement action against them,” the lawsuit states.

Meanwhile, it is lunchtime, and I wonder if Nick’s Crispy Tacos or Café Taboo will deliver to Chicago? I am an Amazon Prime member, after all.

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