Are Fiverrs Running Scared From Amazon Fake Reviews Lawsuit?


Amazon fake review lawsuit

Less than a week after Amazon cracked down on fake reviews by filing a lawsuit, the sale of fake reviews at Fiverr.com still seems to be occurring.  And people still appear to be buying the services. But the lawsuit has started to put a dent in the fake review activity.

Amazon sued 1,114 reviewers in Washington state court on October 16, 2015.

Before filing the lawsuit, Amazon conducted an undercover sting operation by “purchasing ‘reviews’ for products and communicating directly with some of the defendants,” the complaint states.   The reviewers who were sued are ones that Amazon claims sold fake reviews for as little as $5.00 each on the services marketplace site called Fiverr (so named because every service is $5.00).

Review Services Thrive on Fiverr

Each of the reviewers who was sued was named by their Fiverr handle in Exhibit A attached to the lawsuit (embedded below).

The lawsuit is not against the Fiverr site itself. No wrongdoing has been claimed against Fiverr.com.  The lawsuit is against the named sellers of fake reviews.

While Fiverr has its share of spammy services such as fake reviews, the site also has millions of sellers of legitimate services.  For instance, many freelancers who are new will start at Fiverr. They sell services at low rates until they build up a portfolio. For them, Fiverr is a marketing platform and a place to find customers in the vast ocean of the Web.

Fiverr is also a great place if you need a very small service for your business, such as a single image edited. It would be impossible to hire a traditional design agency to edit just one image for $5.00.

Fiverr uses a system of badges, reviews and reputation points to rate sellers. The system is designed to use community reputation to help buyers choose reputable sellers.

Still, for the most part, Fiverr is an example of the free market in action. It is possible for almost anyone to set up a seller account on Fiverr.

That means there’s no barrier to entry for sellers to sell spammy services — other than buyers’ good sense.

This is the second Amazon fake reviews lawsuit.  Back in April 2015, the eCommerce giant filed suit against independent websites and businesses selling fake reviews for the Amazon site.  Those websites have since been shut down.

Fake Activity Slowing Down

When our editorial team visited Fiverr.com earlier this week, we found an entire category dedicated to review services.  It had over 4,000 “gigs” or service offerings around providing reviews.

We spot checked the list of the sellers named in the lawsuit.  The profile pages for all two dozen we spot-checked are no longer active. (See image above.)

Yet there are many reviewers still openly advertising that they will post positive Amazon reviews for $5.00.  One brazenly uses a photo of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to advertise his fake reviews service.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Some sellers offer to post negative reviews, as the profile image below shows.  Negative reviews are used to sabotage one’s competition by making their product look bad.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Both positive and negative paid reviews are against Amazon’s review guidelines.  Amazon’s prohibitions are broad enough that any kind of review in exchange for compensation (other than a free copy of the product) is in violation — even if the review is an honest opinion.

One thing we noticed as the week progressed is that fewer fake review services showed up prominently in Fiverr searches.  Whether that lesser visibility is due to sellers hearing about the lawsuit and deciding to voluntarily keep a low profile, or some other reason, is not clear.

Of course, not all sellers on Fiverr offer reviews that are blatantly fake.  Some sellers go to great pains to describe that they will not guarantee a positive review. Rather, they offer only to give their honest opinions.

However, there still seem to be plenty of others willing to sell their souls for $5.00.

Risky for Buyers of Amazon Fake Reviews, Too

It’s not just sellers who should be running scared. Buyers of fake reviews such as authors and product sellers run risks, too.

At the very least, fake reviews get removed. Your money is wasted.  Amazon’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to track patterns of activity. Once a fake reviewer is “outed,” it’s easy to trace other paid reviews and delete them.

The consequences could be even greater than a removed review and waste of time and money. More serious consequences could come from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission pursuing the parties for deceptive trade practices.

For an author caught buying reviews, it also can lead to a public relations nightmare.   Author Anne R. Allen advised other authors strongly against buying fake reviews earlier this year on her blog,  warning, “… you could get in big trouble. Soon.”

If you think you will never get caught, think again.

Amazon plans to use the lawsuit to ferret out the identities of the buyers of Amazon fake reviews.  The Amazon lawsuit demands that the Fiverr reviewers provide “information sufficient to identify each Amazon review created in exchange for payment, and the accounts and persons who paid for such reviews.”

Who knows what Amazon will do once it gets that information?

Amazon Fake Reviews Lawsuit

Image: Small Business Trends

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Are Fiverrs Running Scared From Amazon Fake Reviews Lawsuit?

Amazon fake review lawsuit

Less than a week after Amazon cracked down on fake reviews by filing a lawsuit, the sale of fake reviews at Fiverr.com still seems to be occurring.  And people still appear to be buying the services. But the lawsuit has started to put a dent in the fake review activity.

Amazon sued 1,114 reviewers in Washington state court on October 16, 2015.

Before filing the lawsuit, Amazon conducted an undercover sting operation by “purchasing ‘reviews’ for products and communicating directly with some of the defendants,” the complaint states.   The reviewers who were sued are ones that Amazon claims sold fake reviews for as little as $5.00 each on the services marketplace site called Fiverr (so named because every service is $5.00).

Review Services Thrive on Fiverr

Each of the reviewers who was sued was named by their Fiverr handle in Exhibit A attached to the lawsuit (embedded below).

The lawsuit is not against the Fiverr site itself. No wrongdoing has been claimed against Fiverr.com.  The lawsuit is against the named sellers of fake reviews.

While Fiverr has its share of spammy services such as fake reviews, the site also has millions of sellers of legitimate services.  For instance, many freelancers who are new will start at Fiverr. They sell services at low rates until they build up a portfolio. For them, Fiverr is a marketing platform and a place to find customers in the vast ocean of the Web.

Fiverr is also a great place if you need a very small service for your business, such as a single image edited. It would be impossible to hire a traditional design agency to edit just one image for $5.00.

Fiverr uses a system of badges, reviews and reputation points to rate sellers. The system is designed to use community reputation to help buyers choose reputable sellers.

Still, for the most part, Fiverr is an example of the free market in action. It is possible for almost anyone to set up a seller account on Fiverr.

That means there’s no barrier to entry for sellers to sell spammy services — other than buyers’ good sense.

This is the second Amazon fake reviews lawsuit.  Back in April 2015, the eCommerce giant filed suit against independent websites and businesses selling fake reviews for the Amazon site.  Those websites have since been shut down.

Fake Activity Slowing Down

When our editorial team visited Fiverr.com earlier this week, we found an entire category dedicated to review services.  It had over 4,000 “gigs” or service offerings around providing reviews.

We spot checked the list of the sellers named in the lawsuit.  The profile pages for all two dozen we spot-checked are no longer active. (See image above.)

Yet there are many reviewers still openly advertising that they will post positive Amazon reviews for $5.00.  One brazenly uses a photo of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to advertise his fake reviews service.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Some sellers offer to post negative reviews, as the profile image below shows.  Negative reviews are used to sabotage one’s competition by making their product look bad.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Both positive and negative paid reviews are against Amazon’s review guidelines.  Amazon’s prohibitions are broad enough that any kind of review in exchange for compensation (other than a free copy of the product) is in violation — even if the review is an honest opinion.

One thing we noticed as the week progressed is that fewer fake review services showed up prominently in Fiverr searches.  Whether that lesser visibility is due to sellers hearing about the lawsuit and deciding to voluntarily keep a low profile, or some other reason, is not clear.

Of course, not all sellers on Fiverr offer reviews that are blatantly fake.  Some sellers go to great pains to describe that they will not guarantee a positive review. Rather, they offer only to give their honest opinions.

However, there still seem to be plenty of others willing to sell their souls for $5.00.

Risky for Buyers of Amazon Fake Reviews, Too

It’s not just sellers who should be running scared. Buyers of fake reviews such as authors and product sellers run risks, too.

At the very least, fake reviews get removed. Your money is wasted.  Amazon’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to track patterns of activity. Once a fake reviewer is “outed,” it’s easy to trace other paid reviews and delete them.

The consequences could be even greater than a removed review and waste of time and money. More serious consequences could come from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission pursuing the parties for deceptive trade practices.

For an author caught buying reviews, it also can lead to a public relations nightmare.   Author Anne R. Allenadvised other authors strongly against buying fake reviews earlier this year on her blog,  warning, “… you could get in big trouble. Soon.”

If you think you will never get caught, think again.

Amazon plans to use the lawsuit to ferret out the identities of the buyers of Amazon fake reviews.  The Amazon lawsuit demands that the Fiverr reviewers provide “information sufficient to identify each Amazon review created in exchange for payment, and the accounts and persons who paid for such reviews.”

Who knows what Amazon will do once it gets that information?

Amazon Fake Reviews Lawsuit

Image: Small Business Trends

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn’t Cost a Fortune

The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn't Cost a Fortune

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Running is an inexpensive hobby
  • Shoes are the only big investment
  • You don’t even need a running watch

As we slowly leave the summer behind and head into the running season in India, there’s a good chance that someone you know is training for a distance running event. It could be a friend who wants to get fitter and has been running 5km once a month, or a family member training for a marathon. This is how this writer got into running and we know many runners who’ve picked it up the same way.

If you’re one of these people, or if you’re thinking of taking up running to stay fit, then you need to know about the gear you should get to start running. Training for a race such as a 10km and half-marathon is a great way to motivate yourself to take up running seriously. If you’ve reached this stage, you need to invest in some basic gear. We spoke to some experienced runners and used our own experience to compile this guide. This is meant for people who’ve just begun running and the goal was to focus only on things you need, rather than what marketing departments of huge corporations want you to buy. Deals and discounts are upon us, so use this guide to fill your wishlist.

Do I need a tracker?
Many people start looking for activity trackers or running watches when they get into running. Alfredo Miranda, a Delhi-based runner who works with a construction company, says beginners definitely don’t need to buy a wearable for running. “You can just use a stopwatch. Measure the track via Google Maps [if it doesn’t have mile markers],” he says. “I run in Rose Gardens, Hauz Khas [in South Delhi]. I know one lap is 1.5km.”

Miranda’s low-cost hack could save you a lot of money. Once you take up running seriously, you can always invest in a proper running watch. If you absolutely need GPS on your runs, you can always use your smartphone. There are several running apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic, and Nike+ that you can use instead of buying something like TomTom Spark Cardio + Music.

(Also see: Convinced You Need a Fitness Tracker? Think Again)

How do I carry my smartphone?
Let’s start with smartphones. Dr. Adil Rizvi, a cardiovascular surgeon and a runner, recommends an arm band or a waist pouch. “You should check if these are waterproof to guard against rain and sweat. Your phone should fit [inside the pouch or band] and you should check if it’s comfortable,” he says. You can buy an arm band at around Rs. 500 but be sure to check reviews to see if your smartphone fits in the case. The belt pouch is also easily available online at around Rs. 500. Both these products will fit most people unless you’re on extreme ends of the weight spectrum. We’ve spoken to people who’re underweight due to illness and none of these products fit them. You’d probably be better off buying these products offline to ensure proper fit – both for you and the things you want to carry.

It’s also always a good idea to keep some money and a piece of paper with your name and the details of an emergency contact in the pouch or arm band. In case you face some kind of a medical emergency, this will help people get you help. Dr. Rizvi suggests buying an ID band that has these details that you can wear it on your wrist, but that’s optional.

Alfredo Miranda suggests an alternative. “I bought a cover for my phone, the [shock-proof] one that protects from falls. I bought it for Rs. 300. I carry my phone in my hand for runs up to 15km,” he says. You can see whichever is more comfortable for you and choose accordingly.

How should I carry water during runs?
You will definitely need to carry water. Miranda runs with a half-litre water bottle, and both he and Dr. Rizvi suggest that you plan your run so that you can refill the bottle along the way. Dr. Rizvi says buying a waist pouch with a bottle holder is a good investment for those who don’t like to hold a bottle during runs. These start at under Rs. 300 and once again we suggest you buy them offline to ensure that you don’t have problems with fit.

Miranda says, “Keep water stations at the race in mind while training. For example the Bhatti ultra [in Faridabad] I was running 80km. I know there is one water station every 5km so I can forget about carrying water.” You should find out how often water and aid stations are available at your race and simulate those conditions in training. Items such as water bladders with small backpacks should be avoided unless you’re on an unsupported long run, Dr. Rizvi says.

What should I wear while running?
Dr. Rizvi says, “Wear synthetic [moisture wicking] T-shirts [and shorts] during runs. Different brands have different names such as Drifit for these.” He suggests avoiding cotton. “Cotton is not a good fabric for running. It becomes wet and heavy [once you start sweating].” He adds that you should pick running clothes should have reflective strips so vehicles can spot you if you’re running when it’s dark.

Instead of buying expensive T-shirts from big brands, you can just use the T-shirts you get for free when you participate in races. Most timed racing events in India offer a complimentary T-shirt to all participants, and plenty of these are of good quality. Good quality dry-fit T-shirts are available at around Rs. 500.

As you run longer distances, you’re likely to encounter some chafing. This happens when your clothes rub against your skin, leading to irritation. This can be very painful and Miranda has a cost-effective solution to avoid it. “Just use Vaseline,” he says.

That brings us to shoes. We’ve met some barefoot runners who’ve been managing quite well, but most people will need a pair of running shoes. If anyone recommends a particular shoe and tells you to buy it, they’re totally wrong. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s best if you go to a store for running shoes and get a gait analysis done before buying. While you’re at it you might want to get a pair of socks as well. If your current pair aren’t giving you any trouble while running, keep using them. Otherwise you might want to get a new pair.

There are plenty of other things such as foam rollers, ice packs, energy gels that you’ll find online. If you’re just taking up running and aiming for a half marathon, you wouldn’t need these if you take a few precautions. Both Dr. Rizvi and Miranda say stretching properly before and after runs is what you need. Energy gels are not needed unless you’re attempting to run more than a half-marathon.

Running isn’t a very expensive hobby. It’s possible to train on a low budget with the suggestions mentioned above.

Do you have any favourite cost-effective running tips? Share them via the comments.

Tags: Running, Half marathon, Marathon

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]

This Indian Brand Offers Running T-Shirts With Inbuilt Headphones

This Indian Brand Offers Running T-Shirts With Inbuilt Headphones

HIGHLIGHTS

  • C.Vox running t-shirts have in-built headphones
  • Headphones are detachable; fabric is washable
  • T-shirts have safety lights for those who run on roads at night

With interest in running growing in India, it’s not surprising that startups dedicated to running and fitness gear are beginning to emerge. C.Vox, which makes travel and fitness gear with built-in audio, is one of these startups. C.Vox began selling t-shirts with inbuilt earphones around two months ago. These are washable t-shirts that have a pocket for your smartphone or music player, which you can connect to inbuilt earphones.

That may sound like a product most people don’t need, but C.Vox COO Varun Midha insists that’s not the case. Midha tells Gadgets 360 that runners often struggle with listening to music or podcasts during their runs. Wired earphones tend to break or get in the way.

“[Our] product is high-quality. The wiring is inside the fabric so it doesn’t get in the way,” Midha says, though it’s unreasonable to expect mind-blowing audio from these earphones, given the fact that the t-shirt costs less than most quality in-ear headphones.

(Also see: The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn’t Cost a Fortune)

C.Vox makes running gear with detachable in-ear headphones. You can wash the t-shirt as long as you’ve detached the earphones that ship with it. That means the embedded wiring and connectors are washable. It also has a pocket “made of compression fabric” with a 3.5mm connector. You can use this to connect your smartphone or music player and start playing audio. C.Vox’s running t-shirts also have blinking LEDs as a safety feature. If you’re running on the road early morning or at night, these lights will help drivers spot you and avoid accidents.

While this sounds like a good idea, there is a very real chance that the headphone jack could become obsolete in the near future. Apple has already removed it from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and there’s a chance that the rest of the industry will follow suit.

“With our product [more] people are using the wired version because it’s less cumbersome,” says Midha. The company has built a Bluetooth version as well, but Midha says it’s not the perfect solution because no one likes charging audio gear again and again. C.Vox, he says, is waiting for better wireless audio solutions before taking a call on switching.

(Also see: A Scientific Guide to Running Your First Half-Marathon)

Pricing could be another barrier for C.Vox. These running t-shirts cost between Rs. 2,699 and Rs. 3,399. “There was a segment of people who thought the price was high. But people [in C.Vox’s target audience] are quite accepting of the price,” says Midha. “The price of these t-shirts is comparable to those available from multinational brands,” he says, adding that C.Vox’s products have built-in audio as a differentiator.

There is definitely an audience for products such as this one. Scottevest is a well established company with products that have special pouches for your gadgets, and channels running through the lining through which you can run your wires. It’s a little more hassle than using clothes with built-in headphones, but it means that you can use the headphones that you find most comfortable. The Scottevest jackets and hoodies also come with a variety of pockets and functions, and aren’t just limited to simplifying headphone management. These start from $100 (approximately Rs. 6,800) plus shipping for a sleeveless vest that can stow an iPad mini and a phone, along with cable management, and pockets for your keys, change, and so on.

Then there’s the Baubax travel jacket, with 15 features. Backed on Kickstarter, the jacket had a target of $20,000 (approximately Rs. 13.5 lakh) and ended up raising over $9 million (approximately Rs. 60 crore). That travel jacket comes with features including earphone holders, a built-in inflatable neck-pillow and eye mask, a zipper that doubles up as a pen and a stylus, a microfibre cloth to clean your glasses and gadgets, a portable charger pocket and even an iPad pocket. These are quite expensive though, starting at Rs. 10,000 onwards.

C.Vox is currently also working on a travel jacket called Techy Traveller. Midha says the jacket has earphones and a speaker built in. He says it has a four-button remote with a mic so you can take calls via the jacket. The three buttons are simple audio control buttons (play/ pause, forward/ rewind) that you have in wired earphones, while the fourth button lets you switch between the earphones and the speaker, Midha says. According to him, this will be available via Kickstarter or Indiegogo in the near future.

Some apps already offer audio-guided runs, where someone’s voice asks you to increase or decrease your speed at various points during the run. Going forward, C.Vox plans to integrate sensors in its products so you can get live audio feedback during your workouts, Midha says. “Sensors in the garment, say a heart rate sensor, will generate data. We want to look at this data and fix [things like] your cadence (number of strides per minute),” he adds. As of now these ideas haven’t turned into products, but the possibilities are interesting.

Tags: Running, Running in India, C.Vox

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]