A little over a year ago we told you how to become an Amazon reviewer that gets free stuff in exchange for writing reviews. Then, in October of 2016 Amazon changed the rules and ever since then reviewers are no longer allowed to receive free or discounted things in exchange for writing a review (with books being the one exception). In fact, if a reviewer is caught receiving products in exchange for a review they can be terminated as a reviewer, with all of their reviews deleted. (That actually happened to their #1 reviewer, without Amazon giving him any explanation at all.)
Now Top Amazon Reviewer number 4 is in somebody’s crosshairs, because that top reviewer (ok, I admit, it’s me!) received the following threat from Amazon, even though in fact I have never received anything from an Amazon vendor either for free or discounted in exchange for a review since the day that Amazon announced it was no longer allowed. In fact, the only things I review on Amazon now – and since before October of last year – are things that I have ordered specifically for myself, paying full price. And even then, I rarely review these days because, hey, no reason to – Amazon has done away with any good reason for me to write a review (save for a very few where I want to warn people about an inferior item, or to absolutely rave about something).
The thing that really sticks in my craw is that I still get dozens of requests a week from Amazon vendors asking me to review their products. Now, instead of offering to send it to me for free, they are proposing all sorts of devious ways to work around Amazon’s restrictions – ranging from “we will paypal you what you paid for our product so it will be essentially free” to “review it and then return it through Amazon for a refund.” The only ones that I don’t simply ignore are the ones that I actually yell at (in email) for trying to get around the rules.
That’s right, not only don’t I break Amazon’s rules, but I actually educate vendors about them.
So, you can imagine my concern, consternation, and annoyance at receiving the following:
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Hello, We determined that you have violated the Amazon Community Guidelines. We do not allow any form of compensation in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content. This includes free or discounted products. Receiving payment or any other incentive for a Customer Review is considered compensation. Payment includes receiving money or a gift certificate to purchase the product. Incentives include any type of reward that is given in return for a Customer Review such as free or discounted products, bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, and other gifts. In order to maintain customer trust and provide the best possible shopping experience, Amazon investigates sellers, vendors, and others that attempt to manipulate reviews and third parties that offer reviews in exchange for compensation. Any further violations may result in removal of your Amazon review privileges or other enforcement action. To learn more about this policy, please review the following on our site: -- Community Guidelines (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730) -- Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201749630) -- About Promotional Content (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202094170) Sincerely,
Note that while this love letter actually did come from Amazon (I checked), it wasn’t even signed.
Here is how I responded, although I doubt I will receive a response back – and I fully expect that my reviewer status may be pulled, with my never knowing why (I’m betting on either another reviewer having falsely turned me in – apparently that’s a thing although I can’t imagine why given that you get absolutely nothing out of being a Top Amazon Reviewer now), or a competitor for one of the products I reviewed turned me in – although it would, again, have to be falsely as I have never violated these rules.
I have never, ever violated the standard. In fact I rarely post reviews anymore. The only time I ever reviewed a free product was a long long time ago well before the change in policy. Frankly I find the suggestion that I have violated the rules, when I have made a point of smacking vendors asking me to violate the rules, offensive.
I was shocked when it happened to my friend, the #1 reviewer (he was even on 60 Minutes as the top Amazon reviewer). And now I am equally shocked at this shoddy treatment by Amazon of someone (me) who has undoubtedly generated thousands more dollars in revenue for them (as of the writing of this article, I have generated 20,623 helpful votes with my reviews – that has to translate to many more sales of the items that I reviewed favourably).
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