Attempted Review of Temperature Controlled Car Mug
The plan was to look at a travel mug for the car with temperature control. Similar to the variable temperature kettles but without the boiling capability.
The idea is that you can heat beverages in your car, so you don’t have to drink cold coffee, tea or baby milk (the baby would drink the milk, not you unless you like baby milk).
I had selected two products from the same manufacturer:
When I looked at the Amazon listings I discovered that they showed the same (number of) reviews and the same star rating.
Even the “Customer questions & answers” section is identical although they are two very different travel mugs.
This screenshot shows the review section of both mugs.
I only had to show you one image because both sections are identical.
Maybe they are twins?
It raises again the question of how authentic reviews and ratings are.
Especially when you see that they were written by a “verified purchase”.
In our case, it would mean that all reviewers (531 at the time of writing) bought both products and reviewed them.
Yeah, right – see image below.
Maybe I am a bit too harsh and someone just accidentally messed up.
The pictures and descriptions are different for both travel mugs.
A copy-and-paste job gone wrong, carelessness, indifference – who knows?
I was going to abandon this particular review and move on to other products.
Then I changed my mind.
Why wait for somebody else to discover the problem and not to do anything about it?
So I contacted the Amazon help via the chat line and pointed out the problem. The friendly person (presumably on the other side of the world) looked at the issue and forwarded it to the review team.
He also pointed me to similar products and finally offered me a $10 discount if I wanted to buy one of the products.
Now, this is excellent customer service.
A few days later I had a look at the travel mugs again to see if the review team had changed anything.
They did not, and I wasn’t surprised.
With millions of products on Amazon, the number of change requests must be enormous. I imagine that the priority level of my problem was quite low since product descriptions and pictures are correct.
Still, if you cannot trust the (“authentic”) reviews, the entire system seems to be flawed and therefore useless.
Here is another explanation.
The “Tech Tools Heated Smart Travel Mug” (see the left product above) was already introduced in 2007 while the “Retro Style Mug” version (the right one) was added to Amazon in 2017.
It looks like the newer model “inherited” the goodwill and authority of the reviews from the existing product. It becomes even more obvious when you look at the images in the screenshot above. The retro mug from 2017 shows the same pictures of the older product from 2007.
Due to a large number of reviews, the newer product would also rank immediately higher on Amazon which subsequently pushes visibility and sales.
Now, this is cheating.
Is Amazon (or the third party seller) knowingly tricking customers to believe that one product is as good as the other by copying and pasting old reviews to newer models?
Yes, it looks like it.
Where does it leave us?
Firstly with a lot of mistrust and suspicion.
The review system is essential for the decision making for many customers. Faked, bought and biased reviews are a huge problem as it is (for more info read this informative article).
Secondly with an appeal to use our common sense and critical thinking a lot more. If something doesn’t look right chances are good that it isn’t. Asking questions and pointing out issues is our duty.
Thirdly with no blog of the travel mug.
I am going to review another one at a later stage.
Writing about this particular experience and the serious issues involved are more pressing and worth bringing to everybody’s attention.
Until then – stay vigilant.
The Kettle Whistler