Into the high-stakes world of online product reviews – KIRO 7 News Seattle


All Johanna wanted was a snorkel for her vacation in Mexico.

She found one on Amazon and $27 later would be struggling in a sea of ​​online threats.

“It threatened to expose my privacy. They said they knew where my home address was. They were exposing me to my friends and family,” says Johanna.

The threats started after Johanna left a one star review. We do not use his last name due to the nature of the threats.

“It was really shoddy, it was leaking everywhere,” she says of the snorkel.

He was asked to remove his review, for a price.

“I didn’t have to return the product, but in exchange for removing the negative one-star review, they gave me a $30 Amazon gift card,” says Johanna.

After a month – no gift card. So Johanna reposted the one-star review.

And then the threats started, via an engraver email:

“I will expose your private life, let more people know who you are, and your ugly face will be known to everyone…and I also know your home address.”

“They even asked, like ‘is it worth it?’ Johanna said. “It was threatening, yes. Because I didn’t know what they were going to exhibit. And what are they going to – what part of my private life are they going to share? »

Johanna reported the issue to Amazon and me.

An Amazon representative said they looked into the matter and suspended the dive company.

In a statement, they say:

“Our policies prohibit misuse of reviews, including inducing the removal of negative reviews or writing positive reviews. We suspend, prohibit, and take legal action against those who violate these policies. Our goal is to prevent fake reviews do not appear in our store.

But when we contacted the dive company they claimed they never sent gift cards or harassing emails.

They point the finger at a competing company.

“The competing seller played a trick[s] on customers they did not send a gift card or sent a used/wrong gift card and angered customers,” the seller said in an email.

Which might be true, according to Amazon sales expert Jason Boyce.

“It’s absolutely a jungle,” he says.

Jason has spent 20 years selling and managing brands on Amazon. He literally wrote a book on it.

“There are many other ways competitors can do bad things, violate the terms of service to make it look like the seller took that action,” says Jason.

TOS – this is “Terms of Service”, the rules governing the Amazon website.

Jason also adds that reviews are valuable and volatile.

“Or there is an equal probability that this seller used the engraver so that he could get this person to change his opinion, then when he was suspended, he could be reinstated. With this kind of arm’s length or two or three degree separation,” says Jason.

While Amazon says they don’t give out customer details to third-party sellers, Jason says there are ways to buy it online.

“But it’s still the wild Wild West on this platform,” says Jason.

Bottom line, says Jason: never negotiate a review. And only communicate with sellers on the Amazon platform itself, so you know who you’re dealing with.

Johanna says she learned a few lessons from this process. Including…

“Don’t trust the reviews. And then, in fact, they might not post reviews anymore. Because I don’t want to be harassed,” says Johanna.

If you are asked to change your review, Amazon advises you to report it immediately. The company receives millions of reviews a week on its site, and the company says it constantly monitors for false or abusive content.

Get the real story on reviews

According to the Better Business BureauHere are some best practices for sorting reviews and spotting counterfeits:

  1. Don’t just look at the star rating – read the reviews!
  2. Check several review sites.
  3. Look for reviews that review the product, not just the product experience, such as shipping time or customer service.
  4. Look for repetitive and vague language. This could be a sign of a coached or fake review.
  5. Look for verified reviews.
  6. Look at bad reviews or look for complaints about the company and the product. This could reveal issues that aren’t addressed in the rave reviews.

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