So much controversy, so little time…

There are a few things that have been brought up in recent days, so I decided that I would make a few phone calls and contact some legit people in regards to what is circulating. There seems to be a lot of controversy over Amazon’s TOS rules. As a new group has recently surfaced claiming to be the “know all, end all” of the TOS rules and regulations, I would like to go over the rules a little more in detail after speaking with our legal and marketing team and had them put it in understandable english.

1. Reviewing is a form of marketing, just as other big name brands link to marketing companies, such as influenster, Shoppers Army, and Gongos. Big companies offer products to those companies to give away for free, in exchange for reviews on many platforms, not just Amazon. They are often linked to their company product page, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, Google, and Facebook for product feedback. That is when you are considered a “Influencer” when you help a company blast their products to your friends and family. (LEGAL)

2. Sellers on many platforms consider discounts on products to be a marketing tool to get the word out on their products. They come in forms of coupons which the general population is familiar with, discounts in Sunday papers, coupon codes, and many many more. Sellers include this in their advertising when planning out pricing for their products. Reviewing is very much a part of their strategical plan, since this is how they get the word out to others of their products. (LEGAL)

3. Anyone who utilizes Prime Pantry knows that Amazon also offers coupons to have you pick one product over another when deciding on what to purchase. This is manipulating the seller’s products, but none the less, allowable. This is also a acceptable product for Amazon to send emails asking for a review follow up, of which no “disclaimer” is required or explained in the follow up emails. (Violates own TOS)

4. Although Amazon’s guidelines say that “You must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon” in order to write a review on Amazon. There are countless brands that ask you to write a review on Amazon without having ever purchased a product there. Amazon allows you to write a review and even offers you to “write a review” even though your account shows you didn’t purchase it there. Which leads me to “verified purchases”…. (advertises against their own TOS)

Verified purchases are products that were purchased using your Amazon account, where as Amazon is paid by the seller to advertise their product on their site. When a Amazon customer purchases a product through Amazon, they are considered a “verified purchase” when leaving a review. Any other sort of review (that is by Amazon’s rules, against TOS) they are not considered a “verified purchase”. Recently Amazon has removed many “verified purchases” from reviews actually purchased through Amazon, leaving a lot of people scratching their heads… which makes the whole “Verified Purchase” a invalid tag for all products, purchased through Amazon or Not. Legally.

Promotional Content-

Let’s dive right in to this category-

Never, ever, EVER, accept payment to write a review. This is the biggest No No in every aspect, from any company, anywhere.

Never write a review that you haven’t had personal experience with, I mean hands on experience. That is considered dishonest, definitely against policy in any sector of the product market. Amazon or Not. Not to mention you are trying to sway a retail consumer on a product you have no real experience with. BIG NO.

Do not write a dishonest review on a competitor’s product to sway a consumer from their product to yours. This is tacky but also hurts your integrity as a seller and a person. If you have a great product it will speak for itself, it not, maybe you need to rethink your product and start over. This is also considered manipulating a product in all regards and goes against the Fair Trade Act.

If a product is crap, say so! I always give my seller a chance to fix the issue with a product before leaving a review, which Amazon does say to “contact seller with any issues prior to leaving a review” so again, not against TOS, no matter who says what. If I am not contacted back in terms to the issue with the product, I by all means, leave a review reflecting the issues. There are many sellers who purchase their products from the manufacturers and have their products sent directly to Amazon. There has been many instances where a color was wrong, product was incorrect, packing issues have arose and the seller very much needs to be alerted to such problems, as it is something they need to contact the warehouse or manufacturer about. In the case of the crap product, if you give an unhonest review, filling it with fluff and B.S. that is also against the Fair Trade Act, which can lead to account termination.

In any situation, I prefer to steer clear of helpful/unhelpful votes all together. That is just my opinion. That seems to be a huge influencer for manipulating the system, so for my own safety I decline to do anything where those are concerned. It is completely up to you what you decide, however I have seen “by the book” professional reviewers get wiped for something they have ZERO control over.

Amazon is keeping a close eye on reviewers, we are under a special scrutiny because of poor reviews, sellers trying to skirt the system and pay for reviews, catty admins, and all of the drama that follows… My best advice is to stay the course, if a seller or a admin asks for something you aren’t comfortable with, say No, or leave the group. In any event, you are the one responsible for your account. There is enough “he said, she said” in the review world. If you want to get to the source, you can email review-appeals@amazon.com with any questions.

Don’t believe everything you hear, educate yourself on the facts, ask questions to the right people, and for the love of God, don’t be a sheep.

And again, if you would like to actually read the policies for yourself…

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201602680

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201749630

http://www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/for-consumers/law/fair-trading-act/what-you-need-to-know

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