Amazon Sellers To Disappointed Shoppers: Bad Review Or Refund? Choice Is Yours!

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Amazon, once again, finds itself helpless in dealing with unethical strategies that its sellers are practicing to trick shoppers.

How many have you landed on a page of non-branded, cheap products which has racked up hundreds or even thousands of star ratings on Amazon.com with only a few negative reviews? You may be wondering how exactly such products amass such mind-boggling reviews and ratings eclipsing high-quality products!

Chew it; Amazon sellers are reaching out to unhappy customers to delete or revise their negative reviews in exchange for gift cards or refunds. The average star rating will rise if there are fewer unhappy customers.

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Sellers who ship products through Amazon are not allowed to contact customers via any other channel than Amazon’s official channel. In fact, this is a violation of the terms and conditions they have to agree to while onboarding with Amazon.com. Looks like, it’s all about paperwork only. A new report on WSJ highlights that expressing disappointment, after being tricked, could cost dearly for Amazon shoppers.

Amazon Reviews Reality: Big Picture

  • Based on almost 1,000 positive Amazon reviews, Katherine Scott, a New Yorker, chose an oil spray bottle to use for cooking. The average rating of the product was 4.5 stars. The $10 sprayer arrived and she was disappointed. Instead of producing a mist, the sprayer produced oil.
  • To express her disappointment, she left a negative review on the product page.
  • A week later she was contacted by a customer support executive from the Oil manufacturing company offering a full refund. But the offer was tagged with a condition – Delete your review on Amazon!

“When we do not receive a response, we will assume that you did not see it, and will continue to send emails,” the message reportedly concluded.

  • Scott requested a refund but refused to remove the review. Soon enough, a second representative reached out and declined Scott’s request until the review was deleted.

”A bad review is a fatal blow to us. Could you help me delete the review? If you can, I want to refund $20 to you to express my gratitude,” read the email. The message was loud and clear – take your money back and consider you never bought the product.

  • Scott was contacted by the company multiple times asking her to pull down her review. After getting haunted like never bfore, Scott decided to reach out Amazon. However, after making numerous promises to investigate the matter, Amazon never got back to Scott while the seller continued selling its products on the platform
  • Amazon sellers cannot contact customers outside of the platform. According to Amazon’s policies, third-party sellers shouldn’t have access to customers’ email addresses. 
  • Sellers who ship orders to customers have access to their mailing addresses and names. Amazon, however, must keep customers’ data hidden from brands and sellers.

“We do not share customer email addresses with third-party sellers,” an Amazon spokesman told WSJ.

  • There are, however, many ways sellers manage to extract customer data away from Amazon’s watchful gaze.
  • There are companies offering email extraction services to Amazon sellers, while another pulls emails from Amazon reviews for as low as $60 per piece.

Food For Thought

Scott’s complaint was not a problem as the Amazon listing for the oil spray continued to be live, with all the positive reviews. Only after several media started reporting the issue, Amazon removed the seller and brand. This clearly indicates that despite being criticized several times in the past Amazon give deaf ears to customers’ plea.

This is not the first time when Amazon is criticised for failing to deal with fake reviews and ratings. In 2019, Dazeinfo reported about the study which highlighted that fake reviews and ratings have become standard practice for many Amazon sellers. The worst part is, Amazon doesn’t take any concrete steps to deal with such things that spoil the shopping experience of their customers. The high commission percentage for Amazon has got no role to play here, difficult to say. In 2020, Amazon claimed to have upped the ante against such fake reviews but looks like the repeated incidents have exposed the reality of such actions.

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