Amazon Seller Terms of Service Compliance, Black Hat Tactics, Product Reviews and More
More and more sellers are getting in trouble for breaking Amazon's terms of service when asking for product reviews and in other areas of their business. Amazon's Terms of Service are explicit about what you are and are not allowed to do, but sellers continue to bend, and even break, the rules. Learn about black hat tactics some sellers are doing, why you shouldn't play their game, how to write a great product review request, and more. Our special guest is Chris McCabe, founder of eCommerceChris and an expert on Amazon's terms of service and reasons sellers get suspended.
Liz Fickenscher is the Industry Liaison for eComEngine and spends a lot of time talking with industry folks about product reviews: how to get them, how to monitor them and most importantly, how to ask for them in a way that complies with Amazon's terms of service.
Topics covered include:
- Why product reviews matter
- Amazon's terms of service in regards to requesting product reviews
- The wrong and right way to ask for product reviews with real-life examples
- Black hat seller activities and what you should know about them
- How to succeed on Amazon while remaining well within the rules
- And more!
Here is the webinar recap, written by Jeanne Croteau:
In this information-packed webinar, eComEngine’s Liz Fickenscher and Chris McCabe of eCommerceChris cover Amazon Seller Terms of Service (TOS), common reasons for Amazon suspension and so much more. You do NOT want to miss this one!
Be sure you set aside some time to listen to the presentation, as well as the responses to questions from the audience. You’ll gain valuable insight about why ASIN manipulation is a huge problem, and why engaging in black hat practices is never a good idea. Here’s a short recap of some of the highlights!
Top Reasons for Amazon Suspension
There have been an alarming number of suspensions recently, which has caused many Amazon merchants to be concerned for their business. While a lot of rumors are circulating across social media and message boards, the reality is that suspensions tend to fall into one of the following categories:
- Black hat practices impacting sellers
- ASIN manipulation suspensions
- Review abuse suspension
- "Bad actors” and sellers not following the rules
Right now, it’s a dangerous time to be taking risks with your Amazon business. Even a small mistake could land you in trouble. Get familiar with the rules and stick to them. As Fickenscher explains, “There is a high alert at Amazon right now to weed out bad actors, and you can be interpreted as a bad actor if you don’t understand and follow the Terms of Service.”
Black Hat Practices: Shady Practices by Bad Actors
Believe it or not, there are agencies and individuals who are really trying to hurt other sellers. If you have been targeted by any of the following, you probably already know how much this can impact your business:
- Fake reviews
- Upvotes and downvotes
- Super URLs
- Hijacking listings
- Keyword manipulation
What should you do if you suspect that bad actors are trying to cripple your business? “Identify what’s going on and try to identify who’s doing it to you,” advises McCabe. “It’s not easy to do, but this is a good place to start.”
Gather as much information as you can — including timestamps, what they’ve been doing and possible culprits — and send a complaint to Amazon. The teams are overwhelmed and have very limited time to investigate the issues. Keep it concise, include bullets and don’t get emotional.
Amazon Seller Terms of Service: Asking For Product Reviews
Having a healthy number of positive reviews on Amazon is great for your business, but they can’t come from just anywhere. All of the reviews on your product pages must be legitimate and compliant with Amazon Seller Terms of Service. That means you need to avoid the following:
- Asking for reviews from friends and family
- Writing a review for your own product
- Lowering your prices drastically or offering lots of promotions and discounts
- Black hat third party services
- Encouraging customers to submit positive reviews
“You can offer great customer service, but you can’t dissuade people from leaving a negative review or encouraging them to leave a review only if it’s going to be positive,” warns McCabe. This will land you in hot water.
Also, as Fickenscher mentions, “You can discounts, you can run promos, but be careful how you do that and be careful about the reviews you solicit from the people who got the deepest discount.” It could be construed as an incentivized review.
Asking for Amazon Product Reviews: The Wrong Way
Even if you think your product review solicitation strategy is compliant, it’s important to review the Amazon TOS for any updates that you might have missed or misread. For example, the webinar covers the standard “if/when” verbiage commonly used in email solicitation. “They are looking for that and it’s not okay anymore,” warns Fickenscher. Here’s an example of what you need to avoid:
If you love the hat and want to tell the world, then leave a review!
This wording suggests that you only want the customer to leave a review if they are happy with their purchase, which violates Amazon's Terms of Service. You might disagree with this, but it’s not worth going up against Amazon.
“Amazon is under a ton of pressure from buyers, sellers, the media, from people within Amazon. These teams are overloaded with pressure and stress over this,” explains Chris. “Don’t risk it. If you’re playing games with wording… why wing it? There are people who get suspended twice for this and never come back.”
Asking for Amazon Product Reviews: The Right Way
If you’re feeling a little nervous, chances are that you’re not alone. Many Amazon merchants are rethinking some of their business practices right now, including email solicitation. You know that you need reviews, but how should you go about getting them? Here are some tips:
- Include your brand name
- Be polite
- Be helpful first
- Be brief
- Write an engaging subject line
- Avoid violating Amazon Seller Terms of Service (bookmark this page and check back often)
- Avoid sending too many emails (one is best)
- Avoid trying to get someone to change their review
- Use our compliance checklist
When crafting a message, the goal is to get your name out there, include great information about your product and stand out by providing good value to your customers. Get creative and include helpful tips about the purchase, but always be mindful of remaining compliant!
Can Automation Tools Help?
As a busy Amazon merchant, you already have a lot on your shoulders. You might be wondering if an automation tool can help you solicit feedback without breaking the rules. The answer, of course, is yes.
FeedbackFive offers ToS-compliant template settings to help you get the feedback you deserve while minimizing the risk to your account. It’s important to note, however, that you are ultimately responsible for the content in your emails and the action you take — don’t break the rules!
Originally published on May 3, 2019, updated June 14, 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.