Bribing Customers For Reviews Got Punished

Getting user reviews can be slow and painful for any new online merchant.  Because online shoppers depend heavily upon the user reviews to make a buying decision especially when they shop from merchants that they are not familiar with, some merchants have tried to use “creative ways” to accumulate user reviews.  If you are one of them, you have to be very careful because . . .

The New York Times reported last week that Amazon took a merchant off its site because it was offering a full rebate on $10 leather cases for the Kindle Fire if the buyer wrote an online review.  According to PCWorld.com,

Although VIP Deals didn’t explicitly require favorable reviews in exchange for the refund, the letter to customers did say “we strive to earn 100% perfect ‘FIVE-STAR’ scores from you!”

It appears that most customers were more than happy to drop a review for $10. VIP Deals’ Kindle Fire case had 310 five-star reviews by last week, according to the Times, and most of the other 25 reviews were four stars. Some reviewers acknowledged the bribe, and one said that he would have given four stars instead of five, if not for the rebate.

Amazon considered VIP Deals’ promotion violated Amazon guidelines. It has removed the reviews and the product page. VIP Deals’ other products have also disappeared from the site.

The Federal Trade Commission forbids merchants from paying for endorsements without disclosure. Sometimes it is hard to draw a clear line between bribing customers for a review or using incentive to get a customer review.  As an online merchant, you have to think of legitimate ways to get customers leave their reviews.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

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