Why You Should Never Buy Amazon Feedback (or Reviews)
by Joanna Lupo
Recently, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) filed a lawsuit against websites that offer merchants paid reviews. Owners of four websites, including buyamazonreviews.com and buyreviewsnow.com, are being sued for violations of trademark and consumer protection laws.
In its complaint, Amazon alleges that these websites smear its brand image and undermine the trust of the consumers and merchants alike by misleading them through fake four- and five-star reviews.
For $19-22, the websites offer not only custom-written reviews, but also the option for merchants to write the reviews themselves. While Amazon employs detection systems, the website operators put up the reviews intermittently, a process they call a “slow drip.”
Mark Collins who runs buyamazonreviews.com has denied that his website does anything wrong. He claims that his site asks merchants to ship their products, which customers buy for a discount before writing honest reviews.
The operators, if found guilty, could pay hefty fines and legal expenses. Amazon is seeking restitution, as well as an accounting of the profits from the “fake” reviews.
Customer Reviews as Product Promotion
Merchants who resort to buying fake reviews know the weight of consumer reviews in an eCommerce environment such as Amazon. Reviews can make or break a purchase decision. According to a 2013 survey, 79% of consumers trust online reviews. Buying reviews may appear as a good option to improve sales, but this could do much more harm than good.
This is the first time that Amazon is suing to protect the integrity of its review structure, but it has never turned a blind eye to abuses of its system. Other users could report any violation of Amazon’s guidelines on review creation. Reviews, including the promotional or paid reviews offered by third-party vendors that do not comply with the guidelines, could be rejected or removed.
Amazon has a zero tolerance policy for reviews that mislead or manipulate users. A feature called Amazon Verified Purchase displays a “verified purchase” badge on reviews for items that purchased on the Amazon marketplace. Other mechanisms include helpful votes and review comments. The question “Was this review helpful to you?” is found below each review.
The same holds true with seller feedback. Amazon prohibits merchants from rating themselves or doing anything to purchase positive feedback from buyers. Feedback offers buyers insight into the performance of the sellers in terms of shipment, product quality and returns, customer service, etc.
Misuse of ratings or reviews could result in merchants facing cancellation of listings, suspension from the use of Amazon and even removal of selling privileges.
Amazon Vine Program
A permissible option available to merchants is the the Amazon Vine program, which provides customers with unbiased reviews from Amazon’s most trusted reviewers. Merchants can enroll pre-release products, which reviewers can try and then rate. The reviewers, who are called Vine Voices, are pooled based on criteria such as the helpfulness of their reviews and interest in the products included in the program.
Participating merchants provide products to be sent to Vine Voices for review. Since Vine Voice reviewers are not paid for reviews (other than receiving a free product), people trust them to be honest, and those opinions can provide value to potential buyers, as well as the seller.
Feedback Management Tool
In summary, trying to buy reviews and feedback on Amazon is bad business. However, Amazon does encourage merchants to solicit feedback and product reviews from past customers. An automated feedback management tool, such as FeedbackFive, can give you more control of your reputation while saving valuable time. FeedbackFive simplifies the process, so you can actively monitor and maintain your feedback (and product reviews) in a few easy steps.
Click here to learn more about FeedbackFive.
Originally published on May 28, 2015, updated June 13, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.