Home » Amazon, Reviews » Amazon says goodbye to ‘incentivized’ customer reviews

Amazon says goodbye to ‘incentivized’ customer reviews

30 October 2016

From DealNews:

User reviews are tricky to navigate. You assume you’re getting the unvarnished opinions of your fellow shoppers, who’ve paid their hard-earned money for a product. But what if you’re not getting that? How could you tell?

This conundrum is what Amazon is trying to combat with its new customer review policies.

. . . .

Customers had previously been allowed to publish “incentivized” product reviews (the item in question provided for free in exchange for a nominally objective review), so long as that transaction was disclosed. As of October 3, all such reviews go through the invite-only Amazon Vine program.

. . . .

This means Amazon will be responsible for identifying trusted reviewers and providing them with products to review, which removes all contact between the seller and the customer. (Books are the only category exempted from this restriction.) This should lessen the likelihood of biased reviews. Amazon Vine reviews will, of course, be clearly marked.

Link to the rest at DealNews

Amazon, Reviews

24 Comments to “Amazon says goodbye to ‘incentivized’ customer reviews”

  1. I have the browser add on Fakespot that evaluates Amazon reviews. Very handy.

  2. Unfortunately, it will also open them up to charges that they are biasing the review system for their own purposes.

    But something had to be done.

    It’s similar to moderation on blog comment queues – without moderation, they devolve into troll-infested nonsense quickly; with moderation, someone has to keep an eye on them. Scylla and Charybdis.

    Smooth sailing, Amazon.

    It makes getting reviews from people who haven’t bought the book – ie, reviewers on blogs and such (NOT paid reviews) – harder. I assume I can still get those, but the person giving the review must have an account, and a credit/debit card on file, and have purchase $50 worth of something that way – and my Mexican friends don’t qualify, because Amazon in Mexico is not what we’re used to, yet.

    Makes it even harder for newbies to get noticed, and, a year after publishing ONE novel, I’m still very much that.

    On the other hand, anything done to remove fake reviews is positive – if they are fake.

  3. Ah, reviews.

    When you put something out there for people to see, you have to expect people are going to tell you what they think.

    Is the problem their opinion, or how we process it?

  4. From what I’ve seen, VINE reviews and reviewers are mostly focused on products rather than books, and as products far out number books on Amazon now, it makes sense for them to curate those reviews. I just wish they’d do something about the scams still associated with books. Not sure what they can do there though, not while KDP Select free days make it financially viable for scammers to game the system. 🙁

  5. I’m glad to see this. When I’m looking at a product with a bunch of reviews, I go to that little search window on the page and search first for “free” and then for “discount”. I ignore those reviews unless the reviewer has posted a video.

    I recently reviewed a product offered by a third party seller. It was one of those “free” products but I bought it anyway. I gave the item to charity and posted a 2-star review that stated my reasons for not liking it (so anyone could see if they’d be bothered by the same issues). The seller was *very* upset with my review and emailed me several times asking me to change it or remove it because it was a small family business and they need good reviews. I responded to two of the emails, telling them I wasn’t going to remove my review because it expressed my experience with the product. The emails after that kept asking me what I wanted, what they could do, etc. I ignored those and the seller finally went away.

    • What in the name of all things holy did you think you were doing? An honest review? They don’t want you to be honest — they want you to lie and be positive about it, even if the only thing you were positive of was that it was a piece of s***.

      An honest review, how are they going to be able to game the system with that?

      (Me, I’d have edited my review to warn others that they were badgering me about it. 😉 )

    • I’ve commented on this before. I have purchased a product from Amazon (with free shipping) not particularly realizing it was a third party seller. That is, until I received an e-mail to my personal e-mail, which I thought Amazon would hold privately, asking for a review. Same story, they’re a small family run business that relies on reviews. The request for a review is phrased along the lines of, ‘if you are pleased with our product please leave a review. In other words, don’t leave a review unless it is positive. I received 3 e-mails each from the two products for which I experienced this. Yes, I can press the ‘delete’ button but I still feel harassed.

      • Oh, leave a review, one warning that Amazon will give the seller your email address and that they will pester you for a good review. It might lose them a few sales once the word gets out on how they operate.

        If everyone starts doing this the sellers will learn not to do that.

        • This.

        • I don’t think the sellers have customers’ email addresses. The seller’s email goes through Amazon before it gets to the customer. They forward it.

          Seems like any time I order from a third party, I get an email after delivery asking if I love the product and asking me to review either the product or the seller or both — but they also ask me to contact them if I have any issues with the product (in other words, “please don’t leave a bad review before giving us a chance to make things right”). I don’t mind getting one of those emails. In fact, I received one yesterday and wrote back that I am having issues with the product. Got a response this morning saying it sounds like I got a bad batch and they’re sending out a replacement order.

          • A single ‘how’d we do?’ a day or three later is one thing, cwashburn’s comment says three beggings each for a good review from two different products.

            If they all went through Amazon’s emailing service then putting a bug in Amazon’s ear should stop it, but not if Amazon gave the third parties the email address so they could harass the buyers.

            If you get more than one ‘begging for a good/better review’ then warning others isn’t a bad idea and might get them to cut down on the practice.

  6. Frankly, I’ve found a number of dodgy reviews with the vine reviewers, with a dozen or more five star review, but after reading, the book definitely didn’t feel like it deserved those kinds of ratings. One time on a hunch, I went to the publisher’s site, and found the exact same reviews, under different user names. It sure felt like something fishy was going on.

    Now, I automatically skip vine reviews.

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