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Amazon sellers pressure disgruntled product reviewers

The news: Some third-party sellers on Amazon are resorting to aggressive tactics to get customers to edit or remove negative product reviews, per The Wall Street Journal.

The problem:

  • Some buyers reported receiving emails from sellers whom they had not given their email addresses to (Amazon’s Buyer-Seller Messaging feature obscures customers’ contact information).
  • Sellers are not technically allowed to engage with customers outside of the Amazon interface. The company’s seller code of conduct specifically prohibits any “attempt to influence customers’ ratings, feedback, and reviews” and states that sellers cannot “contact customers except through Buyer-Seller Messaging.”
  • Even so, sellers use many methods to gather customer data, including through services that extract email addresses or match them to shipping information. Amazon employees have also allegedly taken bribes in exchange for sharing proprietary data with sellers.

Some sellers offer consumers full refunds, gift cards, and other incentives to tweak or delete their negative reviews. By investing in these tactics, sellers raise their average rating, a key to surfacing in more consumers’ Amazon searches.

Why it’s worth watching:

  • Trust in product reviews is a critical factor in Amazon’s success; any erosion of that trust could have an impact on the company’s bottom line.
  • While Amazon does much to clamp down on review fraud, it’s clear that it needs to do more to disincentivize this seller behavior.