Sellers are still trying to figure out the benefit of using a feature Amazon first introduced in October
after the company announced it again this week. The feature lets brands issue courtesy refunds to buyers who leave critical reviews of their products.
Amazon said brands can "drive brand loyalty and customer engagement" by issuing courtesy refunds or providing support directly in instances where buyers leave three stars or less in their reviews.
But sellers worry it rewards bad behavior and that word will spread - "Just wait till this news reaches those YouTubers or Facebook groups that teach people how to get free products on Amazon," wrote one seller.
"Brands now have the option to give refunds, but cannot ask for reviews to be changed, which means negative reviews stay and money is given back. What exactly is the point," a seller asked. "Now we are rewarding negative reviews?"
Another flaw, according to some sellers: Amazon doesn't allow brands to customize their messages. "I sent one of these messages to a customer and she basically told me I am an idiot because I didn't address her concern that she left in the review," wrote a seller who has use the feature. "The Amazon message says we'd like to "address any issues or concerns you have. Please respond to this email." The customers feel like they have already done that in the review. It would be better if we could say something different."
It's frustrating to get a bad review when it's "user error." (Sellers, insert your horror stories here of buyers leaving negs for failing to understand how the product worked.)
Some sellers were not so harsh in their appraisal of the feature, but they asked for Amazon to go further: "This is a good feature for improving customer service, while protecting customers from abusive sellers," a seller wrote. "But please bring back comments on reviews. This lets customers engage with the community and resolve questions. There is low risk of seller abuse. It lets sellers respond to confusing and misleading reviews."
That echoed a response from October when a seller had written, "It would be much more helpful if they gave us back the ability to post public responses to bad reviews, so that we can clear up any misunderstandings about the product."
Another seller who responded to this week's announcement wrote, "Reaching out to customers to offer support if they are experiencing a problem is sometimes helpful. How about a pro-active approach instead though? If a customer has an issue with a product that could potentially be addressed but needs to leave a negative review to get support for that product, it seems counter to a good customer experience."
Some sellers also noted that many buyers have opted out of receiving communications. If you've used the feature, let us know what you think. You can find Tuesday's announcement on Amazon Seller Central