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Sat Oct 20 2018 11:00:09

When Is It Okay to Pay for Positive Amazon Reviews?

By: Ina Steiner

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ABC News tackled the issue of Amazon review manipulation in a story yesterday afternoon. "Amazon reviews: Inside the murky world of pay-to-play" describes a case in which a customer left a poor product review for an item that stopped working an hour after use.

The seller asked the unhappy buyer to delete the review in exchange for a $30 Amazon gift card. 

Is that manipulation of Amazon's product review system? Perhaps the seller was simply offering good customer service, as one Wall Street analyst suggested, comparing it to a restaurant comping a meal if there was a problem.

Would it have made a difference if the seller had sent the gift card with no strings attached? After all, the restaurant that comps a meal doesn't mandate the patron say only positive things about his or her experience.

It's interesting that you don't hear of these cases when it comes to how eBay sellers handle negative feedback, which probably says a lot about the power of Amazon reviews.

Take a look at the ABC article and let us know what you think was behind the seller's behavior. 



Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sat Oct 20 11:29:59 2018

"The seller also asked how to improve the product, according to emails Jeff shared with ABC News."

It appears to be nothing more than good customer service. If I gave a buyer a gift card to cover the cost of the item, I would also expect the negative feedback to be removed. Otherwise, what's the point of essentially refunding the buyer, and my reputation is still damaged.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sat Oct 20 12:50:27 2018

I think this depends on if we are talking about a product review or a seller's feedback.  If the seller was trying to make amends to the buyer and get is FB cleaned up, I don't see a problem with it as long as the buyer is happy.  But if it is to clean up a product review, I have a problem with it.

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 21:04:06 2018

After reading the article and thinking about it; I think it was a product review and the seller basically bribed the buyer to change the review.  The request for improvement opinion was put in more like an after thought, as cover for the transaction.

Not mentioned, that I saw, was whether the buyer returned the item for a full refund as is Amazon policy. I imagine the buyer did so return the item.

So for me, if was a bribe to change the review. Hell, the buyer might have done the review in the thought/hope for such a response from the seller.

On all of the eSale sites there is a small percentage of crooks, both sellers and buyers, just like in all of our towns and cities.

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by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 23:14:38 2018

Most online reviews are skewed by paid reviews. 5 positive reviews of 100% don't mean squat compared to 1400 reviews adding up to 97%. You can go online to the numerous blogs and forums and buy a raving 5 star review for under $20. It's not much different than the online troll industry.
Further reading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y0pYUdfGiw

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 21 05:07:42 2018

If the premise of the original review is sound, and regardless of the means and method the seller may use to entice a change, the question remains, does 'changing' the review change the fact?  

It does not.  All that happens is that the altered/removed review NOW becomes an innacurate element.  And that is customer service to nobody.

The fact the seller asked for improvement suggestions also not only seems to confirm the truth of the original review, but until such changes may be incorporated, also leaves the original review depicting a more accurate picture.  

The bribe thus can not be considered 'customer service' related.  It's self serving to the seller.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sun Oct 21 12:58:30 2018

@snapped

You are assuming the customer wrote the truth about the product.  We have no way of knowing if it was the truth or not.  The actions of the seller doesn't prove the buyer to be correct.  It only proves the sellers desire to not have a bad review of the product or a bad FB, whichever this is really about.  I'm not saying the seller was correct in their actions, I'm only saying we have no way of knowing what the truth is in this particular case.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 21 18:00:54 2018

Marie - that's why the very first word in my response was ''if''.  Was that not enough of an acknowledgement for the obvious lack of certainty associated with this particular OP?

However, one might also reasonably and logically conclude that IF the review was bogus instead, then ONE innacurate review however motivated wouldn't be enough to devastate a seller's (or product's) reputation to the extent that what amounts to a bribe - and a rather expensive one at that - would otherwise be reasonable to conclude should be deemed more suitable as being for the customer's benefit instead of the seller's.

And shouldn't there also be some reasonable consideration for the premise that true customer service isn't a quid-pro-quo process?

Moreover, IF this example isn't unique, and might also represent one of many others similar - evidenced or not - would it not also be reasonable to conclude a $30 'enticement' for each revision request would be cost prohibitive in the long run?

And yes, of course, everything is 'relative' nevertheless.  

Finally, what would be the point of asking for improvement suggestions for an otherwise inaccurate review?  

Clearly almost every 'claim' made within the context of any public forum - it is the net after all - ought to be absorbed with reasonable skeptisism.  

But sometimes a bit of logic can help pierce through that fog too.  






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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Oct 22 01:05:05 2018

This should not be allowed and is against Amazon policy. I could see that some of what looked to be the original email to the buyer appeared to be redacted, but even so, there were blanks and such bad writing 'skills' makes me wonder what country that email came from. One of the interesting things is that unless the seller is making these items himself, asking for tips on what would 'improve' the item is hogwash. That would be like me asking for tips on making what I sell better. The companies that manufacture what I sell are not at all interested in my thoughts and believe I have tried to politely tell them what I have observed! The seller knew that paying for reviews or changed reviews is against policy and from what I could tell the buyer was more interested in the gift card than anything else. Totally against policy. If the seller really wanted to apologize, he should have refunded the entire selling price without requiring the buyer to return it. But not this several email discussion on changing the review and paying for the change.

Doesn't really matter if this was a review as described or a feedback.

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 06:48:56 2018

Leave the negative reviews in!

When discerning the quality of a product I read the reviews. I don't stop at one bad review--I consider what many people say about the conditions.  

Bribing a customer to remove a negative review is just that--bribery! Not customer service.

Why? Because the merchant will continue selling this product & removing bad reviews. Not all defective items will be returned or reviewed & that is what the merchant is hoping for.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 09:58:21 2018

As a customer I would include in the review that the seller gave me a gift card.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 09:59:45 2018

I don't trust on-line reviews any further than I can throw them by the leg. I have seen negative reviews that are factual and persuaded me that there was a genuine problem there (although there's still a possibility of either a sample defect or a clueless buyer), but the positives, by and large, don't convince me.

While reading about the WebInterpret fiasco on eBay, at one point I came across a string of negative reviews about them on an on-line biz rating website. Those complaints went back years, with many unhappy sellers, except for a sudden burst of four or five rave reviews in a row that all occurred within a few days in 2015. Yeah, right.

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by: NoMoreEbay This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 11:04:36 2018

It's no different than a cop taking a bribe for looking the other way for money or other favors. Or a star witness 'forgetting' the facts because he was paid off.

Fact is, it's bribery and the Wall Street analyst is an idiot.  

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by: NoMoreEbay This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 11:08:25 2018

Trip Advisor was busted last year for removing negative reviews from female tourists who were drugged and raped in Mexico. The hotels just happened to be big sponsors of TA.

IMDB is the worst. The fake movie reviews are rampant.

On Amazon, I always go to to the 1 star reviews first to see if there's a pattern. If not, I buy and make my own determination.  

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by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 12:42:08 2018

How absurd. Fake reviews????  So glad I have nothing to do with Amazon.  I don't buy there and I will never sell there.

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 21:22:02 2018

And people think only Amazon has fate feedback/reviews?

Really?  That is a laugh?



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