The danger of soliciting Amazon Reviews from other merchants

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One widespread practice in various Facebook groups dedicated to online merchants is the solicitation of Amazon reviews. And offers of positive Amazon reviews, by Amazon merchants, in return for a refund.

Typically it takes two forms. Firstly, members of the groups say they are willing to make a purchase and give a review in return for a full refund via PayPal. Or Amazon merchants say they seek reviews. They encourage people to get in touch for further details. The buyer will get a full refund. The products to review must be bought on Amazon and fulfilled as if it was a genuine purchase.

The full UK guidance and policy on Amazon Reviews is on this page:

Although products may be provided to customers for free or at a discount, and those customers may write reviews, any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews is prohibited, including conditioning any future benefit on writing a review or the content of the review. Benefits include but are not limited to: future opportunities to receive free or discounted products, continued membership in a programme or club, cash rebates or gift certificates, entry into contests or sweepstakes, bonus digital content or credits, and ratings or referrals that may affect the recipient’s chances of receiving other benefits.
– Amazon

The buy-review-refund approach isn’t explicitly banned. However, it does seem clear that the practice is not permitted under this policy. And even if you might disagree, it’s difficult to say it isn’t anything more than an edge case.

Taking the arrangement of and refund for reviews onto other platforms, Facebook and PayPal, does make it much harder for Amazon to detect. But Amazon isn’t stupid and collates a huge amount if data. Obviously, reviewers won’t be using their merchant accounts for such purchases, but purchasing patterns from certain users then giving good reviews could easily start ringing alarm bells. Especially if they spot a specific group of accounts regularly buying from the same merchants. The point being, whilst difficult, the practice isn’t undetectable.

If you’re a serious Amazon merchant, it can’t be worth the risk of sanctions. Amazon isn’t known for leniency. Equally, even if you are only giving reviews, it isn’t hard for Amazon to associate a purely buying account with a merchant account registered to the same person or showing similar details. So you are still at risk.

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