Amazon Bans Paid Product Reviews To Help Ensure Authenticity

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Pretty much everyone who shops online has purchased from Amazon at one time or another. Do you ever read the product reviews? Did you know that some of them were penned by “reviewers” who got the product in question either free or at a significant discount? True.

According to Consumer Reports, the reason “the company had previously tolerated these incentivized reviews is that they were seen as a way for little-known products to build up a base of customer feedback.” Amazon kinda sorta didn’t object to the process too much—as long as the reviews were honest, and the compensation received (in whatever form) was clearly disclosed.

The problem is, as Consumer Reports illustrates, many of the reviews weren’t authentic:

However, as we demonstrated in our Feb. 2016 story, some reviewers were leaving very questionable reviews. For example, we found multiple reviews for a phone case for a Lumia 650—all of them positive and many of them referencing how well the case fit onto their device. Problem was, that phone had not yet been released.

Now, Amazon has put its rather large foot down and stopped the practice. Chee Chew, a VP of Customer Experience for Amazon, went into further detail about Amazon’s change, which puts the onus on Amazon, not the companies selling on the site, to seek out reviewers:

Here’s how Vine works: Amazon – not the vendor or seller – identifies and invites trusted and helpful reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release products; we do not incentivize positive star ratings, attempt to influence the content of reviews, or even require a review to be written; and we limit the total number of Vine reviews that we display for each product.

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Chew went on to say that “these so-called ‘incentivized reviews’ make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon,” and while that may be true, if the consumer trust in Amazon is compromised, that would be a huge blow to their reputation.

Check out this video for a deeper dive into the story:

[youtube id=”kdLI62JKpCk”]

h/t: Consumer Reports, TechCrunch.

Photo by William Christiansen

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