Is the product or service review you read a fake?   On the surface, it isn’t so easy to tell.  But if you are buying cheap electronic or kitchen devices, you MUST dive deeply into the reviews.  However, some new free websites have popped up that help you bust the fake reviewers.   They make it easy for you to decide whether to buy a product or service found on Amazon or Yelp (or certain apps).   You’ll save time and gain security in any decision you make by using either Fakespot or ReviewMeta.

Fakespot analyzes reviews found on Amazon, Yelp or some apps.   All you do is copy and paste the link to the product page, then click Analyze.  You can download the Fakespot app and use it on either Android or iOS devices.   The resulting analysis will give a letter grade (A-F) for the product reviews.   Fakespot’s analysis looks at both reviews and reviewers, evaluating questionable spelling and grammar, number of reviews, purchasing patterns, mismatched dates and other telltale signs of suspicious review activity.

ReviewMeta currently limits its reviews to products sold on Amazon.   Unlike Fakespot,  ReviewMeta strips out or reduces the weight of certain reviews, then leaves you with an adjusted rating, as if the questionable reviews didn’t exist.  We find this to be a bit more accurate than Fakespot’s letter grade.   You can also get a far more in-depth analysis if you include your email address.

If you do much online shopping, you’ll appreciate the usefulness of the analyses offered by these two websites.   It’s not any secret that Amazon ratings are artificially inflated  (the company itself has been trying to reduce rating gaming with mixed success).    Up until late 2016, Amazon had been gamed by “review clubs”.    They worked like this: You’d sign up, get a free or heavily discounted product and in exchange you’d post a review. Amazon required that a reviewer add some kind of language acknowledging that the reviewer disclose whether they got the product for free or at a discount.   On the surface, this seems legit, but the “review clubs” proliferated and soon it became obvious that subpar products were getting inflated reviews.  Amazon has begun to prevent sellers from promoting “incentivized” reviews but the review groups still exist.  (Just type in “review group” in Facebook if you want to confirm).

It is unlikely that Amazon will clean-up its review process anytime soon.   So, the service offered by these two websites is a very valuable tool for any savvy shopper.  It is important to keep in mind that these review analyses might have accuracy issues as well, and that they don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the product itself.  But if you are looking at a product with less than 1000 reviews added since 2016, you would be well served to use the Fakespot and ReviewMeta reports before pressing the “Buy” button.