Amazon Bans Most Users From Writing Reviews In Exchange For Free, Discounted Items
While Amazon has long looked down on reviews that were written in exchange for free or deeply discounted items, these write-ups were allowed so long as they followed the rules: The review must be honest, and the compensation must be fully disclosed. But as we showed earlier this year, a number of compensated reviewers were gaming the system — posting hundreds of reviews a month, almost universally positive, and for products they sometimes couldn’t possibly have used. Now Amazon has announced a nearly full ban on compensated reviews.
There are a number of sites and social media groups that promote these free and discounted items, with the condition that the person receiving the product write an Amazon review within a given timeframe.
Yesterday, Chee Chew, Amazon’s VP of Customer Experience, explained that the reason the company had previously tolerated these incentivized reviews is that they were seen as a way for little-known products to build up a base of customer feedback.
However, as we demonstrated in our Feb. 2016 story, some reviewers were leaving very questionable reviews. For example, we found multiple reviews for a phone case for a Lumia 650 — all of them positive and many of them referencing how well the case fit onto their device. Problem was, that phone had not yet been released.
Additionally, a look at other reviews written by these same users often turned up multiple cases for a variety of smartphones (some of which hadn’t even been announced, let alone released), again with nearly universal 5-star reviews. We found one reviewer, “Andrea,” who posted 5-star write-ups for accessories for at least 14 different models of smartphone — all in just one month.
Chew also contends that these incentivized were a very small portion of the site’s overall reviewer base, which is likely true. The issue we found in our research was that these paid-for reviewers were all piling on to the same products. So while the overall concentration of dubious reviews may have been low site-wide, it could be as high as 100% on some items.
This was apparently enough for Amazon, which has updated its Community Guidelines to ban all incentivized reviews that are not part of the Amazon Vine program (which we’ll get to momentarily).
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You’re not alone. We’ve recently found that Amazon is taking a hard line on reviews, and have been deleting, removing and blocking reviews for a lot of sellers.
Read on to find out why this is happening, and how you can protect yourself.
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Last Updated on 4 months by Jose Hernandez