This couple keeps getting mystery packages from Amazon they didn’t order

A new type of scam where companies send out their products solely so that they can themselves write 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Here’s how two experts who used to work for Amazon, James Thomson and Chris McCabe, say it probably works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card — no identifying information there — and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.


Reducing prices at IKEA

Oliver Roeder writes for FiveThirtyEight about how some IKEA products have become cheaper over time:

The Poäng debuted at a fraction of the price of the Aalto, and now, after a steep price decline, the Poäng sells at a fraction of its original price. Furniture has generally gotten cheaper relative to other goods over the years — likely due to effects of globalization — but this chair’s trend stands out. In the early 1990s, the chair couldn’t be had for less than $300, adjusted for inflation. Today, it’s $79. (The average piece of $300 dollar furniture in 1990 would cost about $151 today, per the consumer price index for furniture and bedding.)

And what about the other products, that don’t become cheaper?

There is a sort of evolutionary dynamic at play in the annual Ikea catalog: survival of the fittest furniture. She noticed that the company tends to discontinue products that remain expensive. “If they can’t figure out how to make them more cheaply, or retool them or slightly redesign them, it seems like the things disappear,” she said.