Fake reviews and a $125 genuine cheese grater

Amazon gets the most bad press for fake online reviews, but other companies are struggling with the problem, too. Back in 2017, a Forbes headline blared, “Amazon’s Fake Review Problem Is Now Worse Than Ever, Study Suggests” (read article here). On September 6, 2020, a CNBC headline declared, “Amazon is filled with fake reviews and it’s getting harder to spot them” (story here).

Fake reviews often, although not always, go hand-in-hand with counterfeit products, which are a major problem for online shoppers (see illustrative stories here and here), especially if online retailers don’t seem to care (see, e.g., this story about you-know-who).

This is obviously a big problem for consumers (not to mention retailers and product manufacturers). Online retailers like Amazon say they’re working on solutions, but obviously they’re having trouble staying ahead of the fraudsters. Tips on how to spot (and report, if you wish) fake reviews can be found on the internet (e.g., here and here), but how many people will go to the time and trouble?

As for ferreting out counterfeit and inferior products, I think the old “caveat emptor” rules apply. Be skeptical of product blurbs and fawning reviews. Use common sense. Don’t be a sucker for offers “too good to be true.” If you rely on reviews, read the good and bad reviews, try to make sense of them, and do further research if necessary. Personally, I’m leery of online shopping, and one tactic I use is being directly from the product manufacturer instead of through Amazon. That’s how I bought this cheese grater.

(125 bucks for a cheese grater? The manufacturer says, “People from all over the world have written and shared stories with us about inheriting a 100+ year-old Jacob Bromwell® grater, and how they’ve remained sharp even after all these years.” The logic being, if it lasts 100 years, it costs only $1.25 a year. The question they don’t answer is, if you have 24 grandkids, who gets the grater? That, of course, is how bitter family feuds start; I’ve never heard of people fighting over the cheap Chinese junk you find on the utensil racks of grocery stores.)

Full disclosure: I don’t get paid for promoting this cheese grater, but even if I did, you won’t buy it anyway, because what kind of nut pays $125 for a cheese grater? Even I’m not that crazy; I got it for $85 before they raised the price. 

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