Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Sept 16 2018 20:26:18

Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon is allegedly investigating reports of bribery used by sellers to obtain confidential data to get a leg up on their competitors, according to the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required).

Business Insider wrote about the allegations, including one about feedback manipulation: "According to the Wall Street Journal's sources, this practice is especially common in China, where small business owners sometimes pay Amazon employees around $300 for each bad review they take down."

Prior to the Wall Street Journal's article, at least four readers forwarded us a link to a thread on Amazon's UK discussion boards about a seller they suspected was having their feedback scrubbed, with at least one believing Amazon must be assisting the seller. The first response to the original post (dated August 5) was from a seller who said:

"Unfortunately, Amazon won't do anything.

"I also have a similar competitor who keeps having walls of legit negative feedbacks removed every day. I wouldn't mind if they weren't placing orders from my own store and bombarding me with false negative ratings, which I can't have removed.

"They must have someone in Amazon assisting them with this. I guess that some sellers are more equal than others."

The thread has garnered over 1,000 posts since early August. Today, a seller there pointed to today's BBC coverage of the Wall Street Journal article and referenced a statement from Amazon: "In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action." The seller commented, "I'm not sure how they define "swift.""

Sellers have also made allegations about feedback manipulation by eBay sellers - see this letter to the editor published on August 20th. 

And while the Wall Street Journal made much of the fact that Chinese sellers allegedly obtain internal data from Amazon through sketchy means, things are a little different on eBay - the company itself helps Chinese sellers and freely admits it.

This 2014 article in The Atlantic quoted eBay executive Devin Wenig, now CEO of the company:

"We send [manufacturers] data about what people are looking for on eBay and they respond and turn it around incredibly quickly," president of eBay Marketplaces Devin Wenig told me. "We have a really big China export business to Europe and the United States. And they respond very, very quickly to consumer taste, whatever it might be. It's really remarkable to see how quickly the manufacturing base adapts to the demand signals they get."



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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?   Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?

by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 20:44:27 2018

Amazon would do ANYTHING for a buck. Hell yes they are taking bribes!!!

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 20:51:16 2018

actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action." The seller commented,

taking legal action against a china seller, ? LOL
terminating a china sellier account,

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by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 21:11:00 2018

China does not contribute anything to the world. They are the biggest polluters, horrible human rights, they steal everything from other countries and make it their own and everybody wants to kiss up to them. I don't get it. If Russia did 20% of the crap China does they would be considered the scourge of the earth and 68 countries would impose more sanctions on them. When China stabs us in the back, we pay for the knife and thank them for it.

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by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 21:26:52 2018

Wenig sure gets the sales data to the sellers of fakes fast, then he sells them promoted listings to take a larger cut of fees from the same sellers of fakes on eBay.

Perminate Link for Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?   Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?

by: Troy Stiffler This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 22:34:51 2018

Haha. Amazon is a cesspool if private label junk sellers.

Anyone who wants to destroy a competitor can do it pretty easy. There are companies out there that will sabotage sellers, listings, and reviews. And the do it for relatively cheap. It’s a really toxic environment.  

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by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 16 23:36:02 2018

Comrade Troy,
I must agree with you. Amazon has some pretty big loopholes, and it may be intentional. I don't hate Amazon by any means, but as they begin to approach this mega monopoly status, manipulating the USPS etc, it makes me worry. If they kill off everything else, and you HAVE NO CHOICE but to buy from them, it's no longer a free country.

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by: Bookseller1234 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 03:53:16 2018

This seems rife among dropshippers listing on Amazon UK.
Could it be linked to the software a lot of them use?

There have been reports of this happening on Amazon UK for years. It makes me wonder if rather than a few employees, it goes a lot higher.

It might explain how accounts get hacked even with 2-step verification. If account cleaning services are for sale, perhaps personal data is also for sale.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 05:05:17 2018

"""" and taking legal action """

I really would like to know, how they could do that to a seller in china,

too funny, but at least you know the person who wrote that reply doesn't know what they are talking about, and the whole response is BS

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 06:14:44 2018

We have also watched sellers on Ebay get their feedback scrubbed daily. Ebay is probably a bigger thief than Amazon. Feedback is a joke and should be done away with.

How many times do you get a buyer who emails you saying " BEFORE I LEAVE FEEDBACK YOU HAVE TO------" Report to Ebay and they laugh it off as buyer comes first. Well we no longer care. We just email they back and tell them to go for it. We have more than one store and can easily shut one down and move all the listings to another one with better feedback. So go for it fools more people are doing that.

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by: Timbo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 06:46:58 2018

By the time America, the UK and other countries finally wake up, China will be the dominant economic and military force in the world. China has never played fair so just why would anyone be surprised to find out that Chinese Sellers are manipulating Amazon and eBay feedback? Chinese sellers have been taught by the example of their own government who feel that it's OK to lie, steal and cheat when it comes to business. If American companies operated their business in the same manner as the Chinese, they would be considered ''criminal enterprises.''  

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by: Bookseller1234 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 06:52:12 2018

Americans have been taught by the example of their own president that it's OK to lie, steal and cheat when it comes to business.  

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by: corpuschristi1956 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 07:11:03 2018

Thank you Obama for building China. We have to repair our economy with everyone else and then tackle China. It will be messy.

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by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 07:27:02 2018

Ebay does the same for US sellers.

I have had them remove negative feedback once this year so I guess I am missing the point. If you offer free returns and you get a negative at least some of the time they will remove the negative. Bad news is you have to call in which may be impossible.

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Mon Sep 17 07:29:07 2018

What is really shocking is to see this as today's news, for years, we seller have suffered all kind of issues created by the starving bottom-feeders that work for a dollar a day on amazon, and on eBay for that matter. They are the cheap-low-class-zero-education staff who is destroying everything online. Creating all kinds of tricks on Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces. There is only way to fix this issue, USA sellers must be serviced by USA BASED staff, UK sellers, by UK staff, Canada Sellers, by Canadian staff and so on.

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by: gardenman13 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 10:01:23 2018

I'm sure bribery is rampant in China regarding e-commerce and their import/export and postal system, although I have no first-hand experience with bribery.

However, my first and last negative experience with selling and shipping an eBay item to China came at the customs entry level, wherein the item I sold and shipped mysteriously vanished from the radar. The assumption was that the Chinese buyer had a customs agent in their pocket who stole these higher end items (an antique gold pocket watch in this case) and was paid a cut (bribery). Since that item was declared as "lost in transit; undeliverable" after X amount of time had passed, and was shipped via USPS and not GSP at that time (I've since changed to all GSP), PayPal held me responsible for the full refund to the buyer. So I lost the item and had to eat the original shipping and the refund. I don't sell to China anymore.

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by: Troy Stiffler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 10:29:16 2018

Have you ever received spam messages in your Amazon account? They usually talk about fixing reviews, gaining feedback, etc. Often times they're written in Chinese characters. Those are the companies that will do all of this stuff for you.

Amazon does virtually nothing about it. I've reported hundreds of those emails. They're almost endless. Maybe they have "a guy" trying to reel in all of the spam and fraud.

It's pretty savage over there. If you have a special item (ie, something you'd expect to see on Shark Tank), Amazon is a great tool. Setup your brand in their registry. Market your product. Amazon will monitor it, and, if the metrics on your ASIN are good, they'll buy it wholesale from you. If they're not good, you keep stocking it yourself.

But it's really hard to compete in the private label products (ie, an LED flashlight that you buy generic, and slap your own brand name on). And even harder to be a distributor for established OEM's (ie televisions). And, now that they've stripped away the ability to FBA your long-tail inventory, that market is dead on there.

Frankly, I wish Amazon would end their support of all 3rd party sellers, and force them over to eBay. Then, if you want to sell your product on Amazon, you contact Amazon's purchasing department, just as anyone would is regular retail. But I know you guys aren't exactly loving of eBay. So it would put a lot of your in a hard(er) spot.

Perminate Link for Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?   Is Bribery in China Hurting Amazon and eBay Sellers in US?

by: extremetm This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 12:42:22 2018

The number of counterfeits on Amazon and ebay is mind-boggling. They are making more illegal money than the all of the cartels combined.

Both companies knew exactly what they were doing by opening the door to China.The bribes are but just a minuscule piece of a much larger criminal enterprise that looks the other way while raking in billions. The Feds really need to step in and put a stop to this.

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by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 13:01:00 2018

See this Google search link, fakes are funded by the Sicily Mafia mainly and has been a multi-billion dollar industry for decades, the competition is now coming from the China mafia.

  https://goo.gl/yHy7Bu

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Mon Sep 17 15:51:46 2018

The scammers inside Amazon/eBay/Google ARE NOT FROM CHINA, they are from India. They could sell their mother's soul for a penny. They are the ones who move ASINs from single items to Multiple Item packs, for same price of single item, the sames one who suspend you, the same ones who transfer you from one place to another just to pretend the work. They are good workers everywhere, including India, but I can tell you that Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping have kept some rats for a long time and they are now infecting everything they touch, for a penny. They are disgraceful and an embarrassment to human DNA. I really think that if most sellers pay close attention, they will see that is ONLY them who have destroyed most of the internet sales. Amazon has nothing against a small seller, they are a monopoly who like to play chess with big player. For people like us, we have a disease, and that is what is inside eBay, Amazon and Google Shopping "Support". You have to be born yesterday not to have stories about those crooked bastards creating all kinds of issues  for all sellers. Really people, wake up and demand LOCAL support people for your eBay account, your Amazon account and your Google account.  

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 17 17:00:20 2018

oh my god - I'm shocked and dumbfounded right now. Bezo didn't get to be the richest man on the planet being stupid right? My specific category is closed - I can not sell on Amazon. Been that way for years.  I could however fork over $800 for the ability to sell there with no guarantees that I can't be banned for any number of bizarre reasons once the $800 has been forked over. Hence I don't sell on Amazon neither do I buy anything from Amazon - I'll stick with the devil I know thanks.



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