Cheryl Wischhover, writing for Vox:
For those who know their skin care products, Sunday Riley is a beloved brand. Good Genes face acid is a best-seller at Sephora and frequently hailed as a holy grail product. But the company got some unwelcome scrutiny this week after a former employee shared an email directing employees to open fake accounts and leave glowing Sephora reviews of new Sunday Riley products, on the subreddit r/skincareaddiction. The post shocked customers and served to highlight the questionable trustworthiness of online product reviews at retailers like Sephora.
This should surprise no-one. The days when you could trust online reviews are all over. Jeff Bezos has been known to say that peer reviews were the driving force behind Amazon’s growth, and in the beginning, the reviews — and the overall averages — were likely a fairly good gauge of a product's quality. Today these reviews are often gamed, and many can’t be trusted. How does a no-name brand shower curtain gain thousands of reviews in a matter of months? They cheat that’s how. And when they cheat the reviews and their averages skew positive.
A couple weeks ago, my hair was out of control and I needed a cut. Nadia, my normal stylist was unavailable and foolish me, searches on Google and looked for a barber who could do an emergency cut. Most had mixed reviews. I read quite a few before settling on one seemed to have a better ratio than the rest. When I arrived I sat down. It was a small shop and you could hear everything. As the previous customer was paying the barber, who was very nice, asked them to go to Google and leave a review. At that moment knew I was in trouble. Thankfully I’ll be seeing Nadia Sunday.
Let’s face it, leaving a review is work. We are more likely to leave a review when we are pissed than when we are pleased. So you can pretty much rest assured when products or services that don’t inspire great customer loyalty get rave reviews — and sometimes even when they do — they worked hard to entice reviewers to leave them — be it through straightforward bribery, social pressure, the case of the barber or fear of losing one’s job, Sunday Riley.