Listen to this:
Badly translated versions of classic books and critically panned remakes of Hollywood films appear to have glowing endorsements on Amazon thanks to the website’s policy of bundling together reviews of different products.
Analysis by the Guardian shows products that have actually been given one-star ratings appear alongside rave reviews of better quality items, making it impossible for consumers to judge the true value of what they are about to buy.
Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Because I depend on those ratings when making buying decisions! I had no idea! Listen:
The same is true of a Kindle version of the Dickens classic, selling for 91p. Far from meeting the great expectations the 4.5-star review might imply, a glance inside suggests the rave reviews do not apply to this version….
A review from a reader, which appears to be about this edition, gives it just one star and describes it as terrible.
“Each page has a dozen errors. It reads as if it has been translated from a foreign language. ‘Dog’ in the original is ‘canine’ in this version; ‘file’ in the original has become ‘document’; ‘tremendous’ has become ‘maximum incredible’; ‘man’ has become ‘guy’.
Shakespeare’s plays suffer the same fate as Austen’s work, so anyone wondering whether to buy or not to buy a paperback copy of Hamlet will find it shares reviews with Kindle versions of Othello and Macbeth that turned out to be in German.
Most of the reviews do not mention which play or edition is being appraised, making them meaningless to consumers attempting to pick between different options.
Well, to be fair, I almost always or always do skim through some of the actual comments before buying anything at all pricey. With clothing, I search carefully for reviews by people who state their height and weight so I can estimate whether the item would actually work for me. For appliances, I want to know what kinds of things people like and dislike.
For books, I’m mostly not buying a specific edition of a classic. But if I wanted a beautiful edition of Lord of the Rings, I would be extremely miffed if I discovered I had accidentally ordered a much worse edition … or an edition rife with errors … or one that had been translated into German.
And if I see a basic 4.5 star rating for a specific edition, I would sure prefer that the rating apply to that edition!