AMAZON is risking the trust of its customers by failing to address alleged issues with its Amazon’s Choice product badge, Which? has said.

The consumer group said its investigation found a number of products used incentivised and fake reviews to boost their ratings to receive the badge on a listing. Which? said the recommendation system could be “easily gamed” and warned this is a risk to consumers as many regard the badge as proof a product has been quality checked by the store.

It has called on Amazon to make it clearer how the Choice system works. It is influenced by customer reviews, price and whether a product is available to dispatch immediately.

READ MORE: Calls for Facebook encryption rethink amid child safety worry

Which? said its research found that 44% of Amazon customers who were aware of the badge believed it was a sign that a product had been quality checked by Amazon.

The consumer group said it analysed nearly 200 products across five categories on Amazon’s UK website and found evidence of suspicious reviews, including evidence of incentivisation – where sellers offer free products or refunds in return for positive reviews.

Natalie Hitchens, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Amazon risks betraying the trust millions of customers place in the Amazon’s Choice badge by allowing its endorsement to be all too easily gamed. Amazon must ensure its customers aren’t being misled about the products it recommends to them.”

An Amazon spokesman said: “We know that customer trust is hard to earn and easy to lose, so we strive to protect customer trust in products Amazon’s Choice highlights. We don’t tolerate Amazon policy violations, such as review abuse, incentivised reviews, counterfeits or unsafe products. When deciding to badge a product as Amazon’s Choice, we proactively incorporate a number of factors that are designed to protect customers from those policy violations.”