From The Never Ending Book Basket:
It’s taken me a bit of time to write this post, but I figured it’s about time to share the utter nonsense that’s happened between me and Amazon, and how a company that I once highly respected, has now become one that I have zero respect for.
I’ve thought about writing this post for weeks, what I would say and how I would capture everything that’s happened, and I’ll be honest with the fact that this post has taken on many forms, but finally I decided that it would just be easiest to state the facts.
So here it goes…
As some of you know, on February 24th I was sent an email from Amazon letting me know that I could no longer post reviews on their website, and that all of my previous reviews had been suppressed or removed. In case you’re wondering, that was well over 300 reviews that I had written in my over 2 years of book blogging.
All gone in an instant because Amazon decided that I was “manipulating product reviews.”
I don’t even know what that means for Amazon. I have no idea why my reviews were deemed manipulating or misleading, and when I asked for clarification on this, you know what I got? I got an email from them saying they weren’t going to give me any information or “evidence” as to why this all happened.
. . . .
That customer service representative I talked to had no idea what to do with me and my issue, and as it was also 7 o’clock in the morning, she couldn’t talk to anyone who worked in the online communities department because they weren’t there yet. She told me she would forward what was going on to them, and that they would call me back within 24 hours.
Well funnily enough, 24 hours came and went, and I got no phone call. Can’t say I’m shocked about that one.
So that’s when round 2 of calling customer service came, and over 48 hours after I first called Amazon about this, I tried again. That customer service representative also had no idea what to do with me, but after about 10 minutes on hold, they informed me that they had submitted a form to the online communities department about my inquiry as to why I was banned and why my reviews were removed. This representative informed me that I should get a reply within 2 days.
And he wasn’t lying. I got a response alright, and that response is by far one of the worst displays of customer service I’ve ever seen. (And this is coming from a girl who worked in retail for many years.)
Amazon sent me a *lovely* email telling me they found my reviews to be manipulating or misleading, yet I still had no clarification on what that actually meant, and that they were not going to give me any other information about this. They also added that they were probably not going to respond back to further emails about this issue, and then added that they could only respond via email to questions about reviews.
. . . .
If you’re going to remove my reviews and ban me forever, the least you can do is talk to me in person.
Right? Apparently not though, since all I got was that email.
. . . .
Now I’m not a numbers person, but you can’t deny numbers and facts, so here it goes:
- In 2015 I spent roughly $1,441.33 on books on Amazon. That’s a combination of over 344 e-books, paperbacks, and Audible books. (And let me remind you, that’s just for 2015. That doesn’t include the money I spent in the 2 years before when I started buying e-books and paperbacks through Amazon.)
- As of February 28th 2016 I had already spent $163.17 on Amazon on e-books, Audible books, and pre-orders.
- Between 2015 and 2016 I have done giveaways on my blog for over $196 dollars’ worth of e-books and gift cards from Amazon. ($115 of that was gift cards to get people to buy things on their website.)
- I’ve also been a member of their Amazon Associates Program since 2015, meaning that on a daily basis, multiple times a day, I promote Amazon and their products on my blog and my blog’s Facebook page.
And what did Amazon do to thank me for that daily promotion and my almost daily purchases from them?
They banned me.
They didn’t ban me from buying things from them of course, but from giving my honest reviews of the products I purchased.
They also removed hundreds of reviews I worked my ass of on, and for what reason?
. . . .
Was I banned because I like the books I read too much? Is it because almost every book I read is 4 or 5 stars, or is it because my book reviews are super detailed and long? Well let me tell you something Amazon, after being an avid reader my entire life, I have a pretty damn good idea of what I like to read. I know what I’ll love, and when I love a book I love it hard, and I write reviews that show that.
. . . .
Well to me it is a big deal. Book reviewing and blogging is my passion. It’s something that helps keep me sane from my daily on the go life, and it’s what I LOVE to do. So to remove hours and hours of work that I did, to remove reviews that I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into, and to ban me from supporting books and authors pretty much feels like a slap in the face.
. . . .
What they did shows a hell of a lot more about their company and its ridiculousness, than it does about my book reviews.
What I can do is keep reading, and reviewing (on my blog and other retailers), and telling readers about the books that I love while supporting hard working authors who deserve a damn book review.
I can also tell people about what’s happened to me with Amazon, and how it’ll probably happen to them sooner rather than later because let’s face it: Amazon makes their own rules, and they just don’t care about the ramifications those rules have.
It also means that I can be a smarter consumer with whom I choose to give my money to when I buy books and other products.
Link to the rest at The Never Ending Book Basket and thanks to P.D. for the tip.
PG says that, for a very large company, Amazon still does an amazing number of smart things.
Unfortunately the scam review discovery algorithm is not one of those smart things.
People who are enthusiastic about a product or product category quite often write the best reviews. And they tend to write a lot of reviews.
For PG and many others, quality reviews are an extremely valuable part of Amazon. PG will often read several before deciding on a purchase in an unfamiliar product category.
Amazon knows that reviews are important to the continuing success of their online. That’s why they don’t like scam reviews.
However, PG suggests one motivated and honest reviewer provides benefits to Amazon that outweigh the damage done by several scam reviewers. PG thinks most scam reviews aren’t difficult for customers to identify.
The scam detection algorithm needs to be modified. And a non-algorithmic review process needs to be established. Yes, you will deal with some scammers in such a review process. Yes, you may not be able to outsource the review process to low-cost Indian call centers.
However, a quality reviewer is almost always a quality Amazon customer who communicates thoughts about products (and Amazon) in venues other than Amazon reviews and is a serious contributor to Amazon sales in one or more product categories.
If Amazon wants an outsourced means of identifying scam reviews, it should identify quality reviewers and give them a private email address or portal to report scam reviews. The real reviewers will do a better job than social media stalking bots at identifying phonies.