© Reader’s Digest
Amazon has come a long way since it was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. What was then an online marketplace for books initially called Cadabra operating from the garage of Bezos’s three-bedroom house in Bellevue (Washington), is now the world’s largest online marketplace, AI assistant provider, and cloud computing platform – and since 2015 the most valuable retailer by market capitalization.
Amazon.com completely redefined retail and changed the way we shop forever in the course of just a single generation. With over 100 million Amazon Prime members, consumers all over the world now do a great part of their shopping activities online and trust companies their private data such as home address, personal information, shopping habits, and credit card information. Amazon shipping also changed consumer expectations for the entire online retail industry: if Amazon can deliver products in under 48 hours, so should everyone else – or at least that’s what most Prime members seem to think.
If e-commerce as a whole has achieved the status it currently has, it is in great part thanks to the efforts of Amazon. No doubts about it. But the system has a few flaws and like always, some vultures will quickly show up to try to take advantage of those same flaws. Here’s everything you need to know to avoid falling for common Amazon scams.
How does Amazon market work?
As you know, Amazon sells all kinds of different products from every category directly to buyers.
In this case, the purchase process is completely safe and the probability of occurring any problem with your order that Amazon’s customer service can’t solve is almost nil. The company is known for its excellent return policy and for quickly solving issues with carriers.
However, Amazon also makes its platform available to third-party sellers. And there are tons of sellers on Amazon, from individuals and small shops to large retailers. It even allows sellers to provide used and refurbished goods.
It is precisely in this multi-leveled e-commerce strategy that things can go wrong. Below we will show you how malicious people can try to scam you by providing a list of common signs that usually tell that a seller can’t be 100% trusted.
Here are 4 clear signs an Amazon seller is not trustworthy:
1. Amazon seller feedback
When in doubt, one of the first things to do is checking the seller feedback. People who have bought products from that specific seller are encouraged by the Amazon system to leave feedback so that future buyers have an idea of what to expect.
Amazon market specialists advise people to stay away from sellers with less than 90 percent positive feedback in the past month.
This is one way to prevent bad being scammed, and you will certainly find another seller close to 100 percent positive feedback offering a similar product at a very similar price. So, there is no need to take any chances.
2. Product description
The product description is also an excellent indicator of whether you can trust a seller or not. You should always be wary of sellers with weird or nonsense names, product descriptions with many grammatical errors or odd syntax, and low-quality product images.
Chinese companies usually register weird names on Amazon to quickly get through the United States Patent and Trademark Office since Amazon policy requires its sellers to be legally trademarked.
In turn, poor product description with a large number of spelling mistakes and other types of mistakes that make sentences sound weird probably means that the seller is not from your country and might be trying to take advantage of the platform to sell you counterfeit products.
Similarly, posting only one low-resolution image to display the product is a common tactic used by shady sellers to hide eventual defects or the overall low-quality of their products.
Additional tip: If a third-party seller has a shipping time between three weeks to a month and the product you are trying to buy is not out of stoke everywhere, it most likely means that the seller is shipping the product directly from China.
That is why you should always buy products directly from the brand or manufacturer. This alone will prevent most problems and scam attempts.
3. Product reviews
Product reviews are the holy grain of multi-level e-commerce markets. And for a good reason. They are honest feedback provided by consumers who have no connection whatsoever with the product they are reviewing, and have properly assessed its quality after using it a couple of times.
Or at least they should be. There are many different forms of tampering and manipulating reviews in order to favor your own product or depreciate your competitor’s. Therefore, it is extremely important to know how to identify fake reviews during your Amazon review analysis. Here are a few tips that can help you out:
– Check the dates: when sellers buy fake positive reviews (4 and 5 stars) they are usually all posted within a couple of days of each other. To check if this is the case for the product you intend to buy, simply sort reviews by date and ascertain the dates on which they were posted.
– Check if the review matches the product: some sellers keep using the same product page to sell different products.
This means that they will benefit from the reviews, ratings, and reach of their previous products to rapidly sell new ones. This is a pretty shady strategy that becomes obvious to buyers when the vast majority of reviews refer to a product completely different from the one currently being sold.
– Fake Reviewers: you should be suspicious of 5-star reviews with only a few generic words such as “Amazing product!” or “Great value!”. When a product has a handful of reviews like this, you should always click on the reviewers’ profile to check if they are legit. If not, buy the product from someone else.
4. Fake sellers
You know what they say: if the price of an item seems too good to be true… it probably is. So, when you find a product listed at half its market price by a third-party Amazon seller… it probably is a fraud.
Fake sellers have been using this approach to attract consumers for a long time. After you place the order and pay for it, the seller will send you a fake product that costs much less than the original one. Be careful!