Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Aug 16 2016 22:00:16

Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

By: Ina Steiner

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We've been following Amazon's efforts to crack down on paid reviews. Many shoppers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions, and the sheer volume of reviews is one of Amazon's competitive strengths. But as people increasingly offer to write reviews for compensation (free or discounted products, or cold hard cash), Amazon has been battling back.

In Wednesday's Newsflash (available now), you can read about Amazon's efforts to go after paid-review services - and even going after sellers who pay for reviews.

But it's also worth pointing out that large brands are also guilty of crossing the line. And, it's especially worth noting that Amazon isn't the only one you should fear if you fail to disclose paid reviews.

Last month, the FTC charged Warner Brothers with deceiving consumers over paid reviews, charging the company had failed to adequately disclose that it paid online "influencers," including the wildly popular "PewDiePie," thousands of dollars to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and social media. The FTC said over the course of the campaign in question, the sponsored videos were viewed more than 5.5 million times.

Amazon sellers might remember that Warner Brothers waged a war against Amazon sellers over the issue of copyright infringement over the sale of alleged counterfeit DVDs.

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, "Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns."

Even if you're not the size of Warner Brothers, sellers should tread carefully when it comes to being upfront with consumers.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 00:56:38 2016

I think reviews for books is not working as it should. Besides the problem with paid for reviews, you have the problem of the hate or personal attack reviews. One well known writer that got hit with terrible reviews by a religious group is Ann Rice, an author or erotica. Then you have reviews that do not have anything to do with the book, but the shipping was too slow or too high, or the review goes off some personal tangent, political gripe, etc.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 02:03:59 2016

@TIFFEE  JASSO--Sometimes  these  "attacks"  are  somewhat  deserved;  see  the  "Reviews"  for  the  Bundy  Ranch  whack  job (The  "Blue  Tarp  Guy")  Finicum  and  his  odd  novel  that  apparently  no  one who was NOT paid  read.  Only  one  I  have  seen  where  the  comments  far  far  outnumber  any  possible  sales  and  are  actually  hysterical  to  read.  

As  for  PRODUCT  REVIEWS--ugh.  I  really  DO  want to  see what  other  NON  SHILL  USERS  have to say-but  at  the very  least a  PAID  REVIEW---or  one where  the product  was GIVEN  to  the reviewer--should have some  easy  to  identify  symbol  or  phrase at the BEGINNING to  alert  you  to this.  I  have  noticed  that  the  "professional  reviewers"  write  longer  and  always  glowing  reviews;  which  is sometimes  odd considering  the  non-paid  reviewers  often  HATE  the  product!  I  also  don't  like how on both  AMAZON  and now   EBAY  the  reviews are  NOT tied to a seller---the product  might  not  in  fact  BE  THE SAME;  and  often  the review--particularly  on  ebay--is  really  "rating"  the  SELLER  and not the product--which is VERY HARMFUL  to  the honest  seller who  gets  "accused"  of  selling  a bad  product  or  bad  shipping practices  etc--when it was a different  seller  entirely.  This is dishonest  on  the  companies (AZ  and EBAY) part  and  should  not  be  allowed.  

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 08:26:24 2016

You can't get a buyer to read the description much less some one sided review that is probably only given because the buyer DIDN'T read the description and was to miserable to contact the buyer to get the problem corrected.....

Giving a negative review for something gives the buyer a sense of satisfaction...."Boy I'll show that seller whose boss."

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 09:23:11 2016

You should be able to opt out of reviews on ebay, just another way for idiots to destroy a good listing.
On Amazon, the items they actually buy on a listing are so different and with no seller info, it is impossible to know who is sending off brands to buyers. I have had one listing there that was great for years, some new seller started and suddenly the reviews all turned bad with people claiming the colors ran off on their clothing. Of course, this person is FBA so there are no negatives on the actual culprit.
Also, on my website, I can respond to a review, you should be able to respond to a review on ebay and Amazon when someone mis-reads or complains - without fear of suspension! (However, on ebay you have no idea what they actually saw, it could be a completely horrible or misleading ad!)
More BS to deal with.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: Bidonmine This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 09:27:08 2016

I feel that reviews should 'drop off' after a reasonable amount of time (6,12, or 18 months).
Reviews that have a 50% or greater 'not helpful' checks should be dropped as soon as they reach that point.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Aug 17 11:18:07 2016

eBay's so called review system is a complete MESS!

WORTHLESS in my opinion, in fact if any of my items get a bad review from another sellers junk I'll have to change the title to get it out of the review.

It's so STUPID for used items. . .

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: TMoore This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Aug 17 11:26:58 2016

The most important problem with this move by Amazon is that it can't tell the difference between a legitimate reviewer and a paid reviewer. Once it removed all the reviews from my books, and I never paid any one of the customers for reviews. No, Amazon will not have a case in court once the facts are shown: Amazon is not paying attention to the trolls who populate its sight and too much to the reviews. Even then, I do not rely on reviews for my purchases; I rely on the actual functioning of anything I buy. If it does not function correctly, I send it back. That is a better review than posting a few words of praise.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Aug 17 11:38:07 2016

Practically every review on Amazon I read has something like this at the end: "I received this item for free or at a discount in exchange for a fair and honest review, and the opinions stated here are my own."

If a person gets something for free, I would think they would minimize any faults they perceived simply because they weren't paying for the item.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 15:26:58 2016

I cant stand those succubi reviewers, they message everyone begging for free stuff to review. I tell em to pound sand

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 18 07:36:47 2016

Consumers must really start putting a stop to these large corporations, it's just crazy these days what they get away with, borderline criminal activity, I believe once a company becomes so large they need to be watched over with a set of special rules,

Look at Microsoft Windows 10, yes free, and now not really considered software you purchase, but a service, and it's absolutely shocking, what this OS does in the background, it's scary, and it should be outlawed, but they are getting away with it, all because you clicked ''I agree'' the average person has no idea,    

The rules need to be seriously changed, these companies are not stupid, they know what's going on, they just keep doing it, until they are caught, but by that time it's too late, the damage is already done, and the company has made billions, more then enough to pay any trivial penalty,


Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: quirkyantiques This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 18 18:50:33 2016

I was going to say the same thing as iheartblacksparrow. I was looking at arty farty skeletal light up indoor trees and most of the reviews disclosed that they were given the item free for a review.

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by: quirkyantiques This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 18 18:50:59 2016

LOL iheartJACKsparrow-sorry!

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by: Dragonfyree This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 19 17:06:46 2016

I write reviews in the book category on Amazon.  

What I can't stand is what I think are ''Trolls for an author''.

For example there is an author in the cozy mysteries who has written 3 horrendous books in a row.  Almost all reviews that describe the books give them a 1 or 2 stars.

But as soon as one is posted, you get dozens of 5 stars - one line reviews.  ''Great Book.'' Great Author'', ''One of my favorites'' etc.

These are useless for anyone to actually use, but do manage to hide the bad reviews. And raise the star percentage.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: XebayX This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 20 08:42:08 2016

What hasn't been discussed here is the effect that an item that has a ton of reviews has on the listing's visibility, especially on eBay, and the effect this has on seller ranking. Having reviews makes an item more ''popular'' in the eyes of the search algorithms and makes the item rank higher than an item without reviews, and a seller that lists products with more reviews is also deemed more ''popular'' as far as Cassini is concerned. Using paid reviews is a way that sellers are unethically bumping listings, and themselves, up in search.

Perminate Link for Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem   Paid Reviews Aren't Just an Amazon Problem

by: kat62 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 28 11:05:27 2016

I was a tad bit offended by all the shade thrown at Amazon reviewers we are all not dishonest liars I pride myself in giving very honest detailed reviews. Once I gave a review on a pair of silicone cooking gloves well 2 days later I burnt my hand as soon as I wrapped up my hand I logged onto Amazon and changed my review. Was the seller happy no, but I don't really care don't say something is safe to 500 degrees when it is clearly not. I have also refused to post a review on a product you were supposed to take for 30 days in 3 days are you kidding me. Were they happy no, did I care no, have they sent me products since yes so sometimes honesty does work out. The review groups I belong to just ask if you can't give 3 stars or above contact the seller first and give them a chance to rectify the problem and then do the review they tell us over and over again not to lie not to exaggerate and don't uprate a product. I know you think were all a bunch of con-artist doing this for free stuff but I was reviewing things on Amazon that I had purchased for years and someone contacted me to see if i would do reviews. I would suggest read the review look for facts about how the product works and if tit seems like the story is unicorns and money falling from the end of a rainbow then maybe skip that review  



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