The Seattle Times reports that Amazon filed a lawsuit Wednesday in a Washington state court against four websites – BuyAmazonReviews.com, BayReviews.net, BuyReviewsNow.com. and BuyAzonReviews.com – and their operators, accusing the companies of an array of illegal business practices that undermine customer trust and the integrity of the online retailer.
Amazon says in the lawsuit that it actively monitors its website for “false, misleading and inauthentic reviews.” However, in certain instances that practice hasn’t been sufficient, leading the company to determine legal action was necessary.
“Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews,” the suit states. “Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.”
The lawsuit details a variety of allegedly illegal practices – including trademark infringement, false advertising and violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act – used by the defendant businesses in order to facilitate the creation of positive paid reviews.
For example, Amazon claims that buyazonreviews.com promises that for $19 to $22 per review it will provide five-star write-ups in a “slow-drip” manner as to avoid detection by the retailer.
The site also allegedly tells potential customers to “simply ship empty packages in an effort to fool Amazon into believing the reviewer was a ‘verified purchaser.'”
GeekWire reports that in one instance, buyazonreviews.com chastised a reviewer for complaining that they had not received a product, telling the company paying for the review: “All our reviewers know of the process and I am not sure as to why she sent this to you but I will ensure it does not happen in the future.”
Similarly named buyamazonreviews.com allegedly promised that customers “can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week,” while Bayreviews.net used Amazon’s logo to advertise “a unique system that generates high quality 5 rating reviews to your Kindle eBook,” the suit states.
“Defendants are misleading Amazon’s customers and tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers,” Amazon claims in the lawsuit. “Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and disrupting the marketplace in which they participate.”
However, the owner of buyamazonreviews.com objects to Amazon’s characterization of the company’s business practices.
He tells The Seattle Times that his company simply helps Amazon’s third-party sellers get reviews by connecting them to consumers willing to write those reviews.
“We are not selling fake reviews,” he said, noting that in many cases reviewable products are offered at a discount. “However we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products. And this is not illegal at all.”
Amazon is seeking unspecified damages and requests that the sites cease and desist activities related to the retailer, provide information on each fake review created and the accounts of the people who paid for them.