Amazon is a great market place and we all love shopping on it. This is no accident as the company’s goal from the beginning has been to become the primary marketplace of any product or service, for consumers and businesses alike. The success they have achieved is more than anyone could have imagined when they first emerged as simply an online bookstore. But is this god of e-commerce the best place to buy everything? While Amazon, in truth, can provide the best online shopping experience out there, this doesn’t guarantee that shoppers will always be getting the best deals on the best products on their site. Here are a few things to watch out for.
1) Biased reviews and ratings –
Fake reviews has been a quite known problem on Amazon. But biased reviews have become even a bigger problem. Every now and then you will encounter reviews saying – “I got this product as a free sample for my unbiased and free review”. These are the people who get free products from the sellers and they write reviews in return.
Real question here is, how much unbiased are they ? Notice that none of these reviews give 1 or 2 star to the product or seller. Why all ‘unbiased reviews’ are giving 5 star after getting product for free.
Finally Amazon realized this trend and in October,2016 Amazon banned incentivized reviews (except their Vine program). But has it actually stopped biased reviews ?
Answer is NO .. many manufacturers are still giving free products in exchange of a ‘honest‘ review. They are going as far as transferring money to reviewer’s PayPal account to buy the product on Amazon and post reviews.
And guess what! Now reviewers are asked NOT to mention that they received product for free in exchange of the review, so real buyers have no way to differentiate between biased and true reviews.
Want to see some example emails, have a look –
2) No easy return –
Returns on Amazon are not as easy as you think. Many categories of products (specially electronic) allows returns only if it is defective or does not work as described …
What if you suddenly found a better model, or you realized that product does not look good in your house. These all reasons fall under ‘Change of mind’ for returns, which means Amazon will charge you for shipping charges for return + restocking fee, and only remaining money will be returned to you. You may require to pay ‘shipping+restocking fee’ for returns with following highlighted reasons.-
Now compare this with returning experience in a Target store –
Customer Service : “Why are you returning it, is there something wrong with the product?”
Me:”No nothing is wrong with it, I just did not like the color”
Customer Service: “Ok. Your return has been processed, your money will go back to the credit card you used for purchasing.”
Me: “Perfect! Thank you!”
Aaand… your return is done, you get your full money refunded.
3) Many faces of Amazon –
You will find many deals and product review websites pushing people towards Amazon product links. Reason ??
They get referral money if you purchase from Amazon using their Amazon links. For example, if you click on the below link and buy anything from Amazon, I will get a percentage of the money you spend in buying products. (pleazzz buy this Adorable Plush Stuffed Goat … ) –
Website’s don’t get any commission if you go to a nearby store and buy stuff from them. So most of the time websites are just a store front for Amazon and they want you to buy stuff through their links. If a product is available for the same or even less price in a brick and mortar stores, they don’t want you to go to a store (huh! and you thought you can trust that deals website).
4) Support your local stores –
We buy books and pay for HBO and Netflix subscriptions, because we want to support these creative people whom we like (so would keep watching GOT and Stranger Things). Same way if you want your local stores to stay around, you need to support them by buying stuff from them. Sometimes a product can be few dollars costly (although many stores do price match with Amazon) but remember that you are getting a chance to see the products physically, get it immediately and return it without paying for shipping charges.
Imaging you tried to purchase some nice looking shoes online and you had to return it because either it did not fit or was of very poor quality.You would have to go through the hassle of printing the return slip, give the box back to the courier guy and wait for a replacement. Now compare this with trip to a New Balance shoe store, you can try 5 different shoes and buy the one which you like the most. I definitely want this store to stay around me.