How to find potentially fake reviews in South Africa’s online stores


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  • Product reviews are an important tool that online stores use to sell more products.
  • However, fake reviews can often be found on ecommerce websites – especially those that offer third-party marketplaces.
  • There are some checks on fake combat ratings in South African online stores.
  • Even so, fake reviews are still prevalent – and detecting them can help prevent a dud.
  • Here is how.
  • More articles can be found at

Reviews for products in online stores are a great way for stores to increase product sales.

According to Matt Moog, CEO of Power Reviews, a product with only one review is 65% more likely to be bought on Amazon than a product with no review. And about 33% of online shoppers don’t buy products unless they’ve received positive feedback from other buyers.

This is probably the reason why most of the leading online shops in South Africa have now integrated some kind of product price and rating system into their platforms.

However, the reviews are not always legitimate or truly impartial. Online reviews for products on websites whose sole aim is to get you to buy those very items are by definition near-compromised. They have almost always been controversial, with mega-retailers like Amazon plagued by false reviews in the past.

Various studies have tested the reliability of reviews on Amazon. In 2017, the UK consumer group Which? When looking at various headphone listings on Amazon, it was found that around 87% of the roughly 12,000 reviews have not been verified – and may have been placed there by sellers to increase sales.

Third-party marketplaces, such as those offered by both Amazon and Takealot, are the most vulnerable to fake reviews or review manipulation. However, Amazon’s verified review guidelines allow more conscientious buyers to identify reviews made by a legitimate owner of the product.

Reliability of the verification in South Africa

Most South African websites have taken slightly different approaches to their online verification system – few have opted for an Amazon-style verified verification process. This makes it difficult to see at a glance which reviews are legitimate and which may have been left by people with a legitimate interest.

Although Takealot does not have a verified rating system like Amazon from a user perspective, a Takealot spokesperson told Business Insider South Africa that the online store does not publish reviews from people who have not bought the product through the platform. Although anyone can rate and rate a product, Takealot will verify that the reviewer has purchased the product before activating it on the website.

“Anyone can submit a review, but this will not be published immediately,” the spokesman told Business Insider. “The Takealot review moderation process verifies that the product was purchased by the reviewer on Takealot before it was approved and published. If a reviewer did not purchase the product, the review will be denied and not published.”

The kitchen store YuppieChef, on the other hand, will publish a review from everyone – even those who did not buy the product on their website. However, they allow buyers to filter these out by only viewing the ones left by verified owners.

Business Insider was able to rate a product that was purchased elsewhere and later posted on the website. In theory, this could lead to the ability to manipulate the business’s ratings. However, without a third-party marketplace, positive or negative reviews only benefit the brands in question, and not the bottom line of an individual third-party.

While anyone can submit a review, YuppieChef will add a “Verified Owner” badge to reviews submitted by people who purchased the items using a process similar to Amazon.

While YuppieChef does not suffer from the scourge of problematic reviews often associated with third-party marketplaces, the list of curated products based on reviews poses another problem for consumers. The store reserves “full discretion as to whether.” Your review and review should be published (or removed), “and one YuppieChef customer told Business Insider that their negative review of a product was not displayed on the website after being contacted by the company and agreed to exchange the product instead .

Reviews-For cash systems

Although fake reviews can pop up anywhere, they are especially difficult to manage on market platforms where positive reviews can lead a third party vendor to success or failure. Because of this, third-party vendors have used various tricks to get their products better rated and rank better among the thousands of competitors.

One of the most important tactics is to motivate customers to leave positive reviews – either with free products or coupons that can be used for future purchases. Amazon sellers have historically been accused of bribing users with cash and gift cards in exchange for five-star reviews.

Takealot expressly forbids this practice in its Sellers Compliance Guidelines, which states: “[p]Product review requests that only ask for positive reviews or offer compensation are prohibited. “Takealot also prohibits market vendors from asking customers to remove negative reviews.

However, Business Insider saw an example of a seller inserting a letter into a product that exceeded the limits of these guidelines. It invites direct correspondence (and not through Takealot) if there are any product quality concerns, and to leave a review from Takealot for the product “which would really help” with our reviews.

Detecting fake reviews

Even with the best of checks and balances, fake reviews will get away with it – and not all online reviews are reliable. In most cases, the responsibility largely rests with buyers to look for verified owner identification, be suspicious of any reviews, and identify some of the red flags of fake reviews:

  • If a product – given its prices and glowing reviews – looks too good to be true, there’s a good chance it does.
  • It’s also fair to be skeptical if a product has a large number of five-star reviews – and short, flat, or repetitive written accompaniments.
  • A series of reviews submitted in quick succession may indicate an attempt to drown out negative reviews.
  • And checks without a name and repetitive misspellings or patterns on multiple independent submissions can definitely set red flags.

There are also a few third-party tools that you can use to spot fake reviews when shopping on Amazon – including FakeSpot and ReviewMeta.

However, there is no such tool that works for the leading online stores in South Africa. In the absence of such software, it is best to treat all online product reviews on local websites with a certain amount of skepticism – and when in doubt, review products on more legitimate third-party websites rather than trying to close the deal before you make the purchase.

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