Amazon, like most other online retailers, has struggled with fake product reviews for years. The company has strict guidelines against fake reviews, which block sellers and product manufacturers from paying people to publish reviews for a given product, but many sellers are able to skirt under the radar. Multiple tech brands have now been pulled from Amazon, seemingly as part of a crackdown on fake reviews.
Amazon’s seller policies include strict guidelines against fake reviews. Vendors aren’t allowed to provide a refund or reimbursement for product reviews, use third-party services that offer free/discounted products tied to reviews, or create customer accounts to review their own products. However, these guidelines aren’t always enforced, which has led to the popularity of tools like Fakespot and ReviewMeta for identifying fake reviews.
SafetyDetectives published a report last week about a massive database it discovered containing messages between Amazon sellers and customers. The leaked data highlighted examples of seller messages asking for product reviews, including methods used to avoid automatic detection by Amazon (adding a video, waiting a few days after purchase, etc.).
Example of vendor message (Credit: SafetyDetectives)
Amazon has now removed products from several major tech brands (via DigitalTrends), seemingly in relation to the leak about fake reviews. Aukey and Mpow are among the companies whose products have disappeared from Amazon — the remaining listings are mostly from third parties. Although its connection to the leak hasn’t been confirmed, Aukey at least has been found to include a note in the box with many of its products promising $100 for an “honest review.”
I’m currently reviewing a standing desk from Aukey, and it came with this note offering $100 for an “honest review,” which is against Amazon’s seller rules. No wonder Amazon is laying down the hammer. https://t.co/qkfpvbDyln pic.twitter.com/rW3VRcVr3x
— Corbin Davenport (@corbindavenport) May 10, 2021
It’s not clear when (if ever) Aukey, Mpow, and other affected brands will resume sales on Amazon. An Amazon spokesperson provided the following statement to ReviewGeek about the situation:
“We work hard to build a great experience for our customers and sellers and take action to protect them from those that threaten their experience in our store. We have systems and processes to detect suspicious behavior and we have teams that investigate and take action quickly.
We have long-standing policies to protect the integrity of our store, including product authenticity, genuine reviews, and products meeting the expectations of our customers. We take swift action against those that violate them, including suspending or removing selling privileges. We take this responsibility seriously, monitor our decision accuracy and maintain a high bar. We have an appeals process where sellers can explain how they will prevent the violation from happening in the future or let us know if they believe they were compliant. Our teams are based in our Seattle headquarters and around the globe in order to provide sellers with 24/7 support via email, phone, and chat in more than 15 languages.”
It’s great to see Amazon taking action against sellers paying for fake reviews, even if the crackdown was the result of a publicized leak. Now, if Amazon could stop participating in its own shady tactics, that would be even better.
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