Belkin Business Development Representative Michael Bayard has been caught offering to pay anyone willing to leave perfect reviews of Belkin products on Amazon, Buy.com, and Newegg. Even worse, the highly unethical strategy seems to have worked—almost fifteen pages worth of Belkin products on Amazon have perfect five-star ratings.
Bayard brazenly hosted the fraud using Amazon’s own Mechanical Turk, which allows people to farm out menial tasks that computers can’t perform.
There are dozens of these requests from this Mike Bayard guy on Mechanical Turk.
Sounds like somebody reallllllllly wants this item to get high ratings. So what is the product? The link is to an Amazon.com listing for a Belkin router which has consistently gotten bad reviews in the past from users who say that the product is “loaded with Bugs, goes on & off whenever it feels like, and comes at a hefty price.”
Bayard isn’t some rogue Belkin employee trying to earn a few brownie points. According to his recently disabled LinkedIn profile, he’s responsible for overseeing “sales of Belkin products to major .com accounts such as Amazon.com.”
As our estranged sister site Gizmodo points out, consumers rely on fair and impartial views to counterbalance misleading marketing claims. This incident shows one of the best reasons to always look for the negative reviews of any product.
We’re confident Belkin will soon release a statement strongly condemning Bayard’s actions and promising an investigation or some equally worthless schmaltz, but we really want to hear from Amazon. This form of fraud—and let’s not call it anything else—has happened before and it will happen again. Amazon needs to explain to the community how Belkin will be held responsible for its actions. Hell, we’d go so far as to completely boot Belkin from Amazon for a couple of days, but as we’ve been told before, we are mean. Tell us, friendly commenters, what sort of response would you find appropriate?
Exclusive: Belkin’s Development Rep is Hiring People to Write Fake Positive Amazon Reviews [The Daily Background]