Online reviews of products are basically all nonsense, according to a new report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The BBC says that the report identifies a number of problems with sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor, where reviews have been found to be planted by rival businesses to disparage the products of a rival, or firms are simply writing fake reviews of their own products to boost ratings.
The review sites themselves are also often at fault, according to the report: some hold back negative reviews, or cherry-pick good ones because it is within their interest to have a positive spin on a product, as they can earn cash through affiliate links and via subscription from the businesses getting reviewed.
Perhaps most bizarre is the allegations in the report levelled at us, the consumers. The CMA claims that some mean-spirited users are apparently using online reviews as a means to blackmail companies into providing concessions.
What makes this important is that apparently 54 per cent of people look to online reviews for advice, with the CMA estimating that £23bn of spending every year is influenced by reviews. Nonsense reviews are ultimately bad news for the consumer: don't believe the five-star hype, perhaps. [BBC]