Over a year ago, we wrote about Lifestyle Lift and its attempts to astroturf a customer review website (while simultaneously suing that website for trademark infringement, naturally). But then they caught the attention of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, and now they’ve agreed to pay $300,000 and will stop publishing fake reviews online.
Instead of paying outsiders to give their products fake positive reviews on Amazon product pages like Belkin and other companies, DeLonghi cut out the middleman. Their communications manager, Tara Carpenter, simply went on Amazon and gave a variety of DeLonghi products five-star rave reviews herself.
We all know that Amazon’s review system is kind of a mess. It’s plagued by “professional reviewers,” reviews from friends, legitimately critical reviews that get yanked after complaints by angry fan groups, and—worst of all—fake reviews, usually written by employees of the manufacturer. Adam found a new fake reviewer named David Jacob, but what really caught our eye was how real Amazon shoppers have picked up on it and left a series of comments to warn future customers to stay away from Gamenamics.
Sarah bought some car chargers from Eforcity through Amazon, and was disappointed to find that the charger plug doesn’t stay in the phone unless you hold it in. She said as much in her Amazon feedback. In response, Eforcity said they would be happy to give her a refund, as long as she deleted her negative feedback. In other words, a bribe for self-censorship. Eforcity’s email, inside…
After receiving two defective “new” headsets and a third one that was missing packaging materials, Lance left EveryDayDeals neutral feedback. EverydayDeals then offered to give Lance a partial refund, but only if he withdrew his non-thumbs-up feedback. Lance’s email, and EveryDayDeals bribe note, inside…
TheCellShop.net told Network World that its email trying to bribe customers to submit perfect reviews was “improperly worded” and they “are now offering $5.00 for anybody who leaves a review whether it be good or bad.” [Network World]
“MyGearStore,” a seller on Amazon, tried to bribe reader Michael into remove less-than-stellar feedback. Michael writes, “There were some problems with the order, and I gave them neutral feedback (which was pretty generous).” They said they would give him a partial refund if he took down his feedback. He complained to Amazon, who didn’t reply except with a “thanks for emailing us” and to MyGearStore, who didn’t respond. One tool consumers use to evaluate the slew of online retailers out there is by looking through feedback left by other customers. If stores are trying to pay off customers to get rid of negative feedback, one, they’re stupid because they’re going to get caught. Two, it means you should be suspicious if the feedback for one store, product, or seller is overwhelmingly positive. Critical reading, it’s a good ability to have. The original bribe note sent by MyGearStore, inside..