Claims made that Amazon staff took cash for review deletion

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It is being alleged that some staff at Amazon have been taking money from merchants in return for using their access to internal systems to delete unfavourable customer reviews. The allegations have come to light after an investigation made by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The WSJ reports that for payments ranging from $80 to more than $2,000 Amazon employees in Shenzhen in China will delete reviews and also provide sales metrics, competitor information, customer contact details and even restore suspended accounts. Merchants apparently communicate with Amazon reps, and make payment via, the WeChat messaging service.

In a statement confirming that the reports would be thoroughly investigated, an Amazon spokesperson said:

We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action.
– Amazon spokesperson

The integrity of the Amazon reviews system is critical to the marketplace. It is widely known that the reviews on Amazon are valued by shoppers when making a purchase so anything that dents shopper confidence in the system is unwelcome by merchants. However, what is not clear is the scale of this bribery problem.

It would seem from the WSJ report that their specific claim regards a relatively small number of staff at a single facility in China, although other outlets have been reporting it to be a more widespread a practice. Considering that Amazon employs 560,000 people across the world, it is inevitable that there will be such incidents somewhere within the company.

What will, perhaps, be the most concerning aspect of this for most merchants is that this has predominantly been happening in China. Chinese merchants already enjoy significant competitive advantages, including low-cost international shipping, and there will be concern that back-channels to staff give them a further edge.

3 Responses

  1. Yawn.
    “zero tolerance for abuse”
    Sure, but only, if it hurts Amazon profits or turns into a PR fiasco.

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