The Amazon reviews TOS is responsible for taking down a fair few Amazon sellers.
The policies regarding what you can and can’t do to get reviews are extremely strict, as are the consequences for those who break them.
It’s vital that you understand what flies and what doesn’t when asking for reviews on Amazon. Don’t take the risk of losing your review privileges, or having your account suspended.
If you were an Amazon seller several years ago, you know how big “incentivized reviews” were.
They used to be commonplace on Amazon. This means sellers would pay, or offer incentives, for people to leave reviews.
This could mean offering a free product in exchange for a review, providing a discount or coupon code for reviewers, or just straight up paying for reviews. It made getting loads of reviews
Amazon put an end to incentivized reviews in October 2016, when an update to their policies banned anything to do with this tactic. The policy covers things like:
- Offering discounts in exchange for reviews
- Giving away free products in exchange for reviews
- Paying people to leave you reviews
- Asking your friends and family to leave you reviews
- Asking people to specifically leave a POSITIVE review
- Writing a review for a product that you have a financial stake in
- Trading reviews with other sellers
Breaking these rules is no light matter. Amazon has been known to sue people involved in review manipulation. Countless more sellers have had their accounts suspended for breaking the rules.
At the very least, you can expect Amazon to delete any reviews that are known or suspected to have been acquired via shady means.
To this day, people still try and skirt the rules, usually offering under-the-table PayPal refunds to people for leaving reviews. It’s a big risk to take though, and not worth risking your business over.
Family & Friends
To get their first few reviews, a lot of sellers get family members, friends, or friends of friends to buy their products.
This seems like a great idea at first, but as mentioned above, it counts as an incentivized review. Therefore doing this is against Amazon’s Terms.
If you think that Amazon won’t notice, you might be surprised. They are extremely good at spotting cases like this, by matching IP addresses, shipping addresses, or anything that can link you and your buyers.
If you’re unsure whether or not Amazon will make a link between you and reviewer, err on the side of caution. Don’t take the risk that Amazon will shut you down for (in their opinion) shady reviewing practices.
Paying freelancers to write reviews
Blatantly against Amazon’s terms.
Don’t do this.
Another thing that can may get you into trouble is the wording in your review requests.
Amazon wants “honest” reviews. Many consumers these days are suspicious of the legitimacy of reviews online, and on Amazon in particular. As part of Amazon’s fight against this, you are not allowed to:
- Ask for people to leave positive reviews
- Ask customers to leave a review only if they are satisfied
- Divert unhappy customers to another feedback mechanism
This may not be as serious as incentivized reviews, and probably isn’t going to get you suspended. But with Amazon’s increasing willingness to shut off reviews on product listings, it’s probably not worth leaving it to chance. Always ask for honest reviews.
Asking a customer to change/remove their review
If a customer decides to take back their negative review after you follow up, that’s great! But this has to be treated as an added bonus.
Recent changes to Amazon’s review policies forbid sellers from asking customers to change or remove their review – no matter how nicely you ask.
Even if it was legal, it’s not a good idea in terms of the customer experience. How is a customer going to react if they keep getting asked to take down their review? They are going to see your business in a very unprofessional light, and won’t buy from you again. Chances are they’ll share their experience with others, and they won’t buy from you either.
A bad review isn’t the end of the world. 100 bad reviews may be, but if you’re getting this many negative reviews, it probably comes down to the product itself.
Review groups are one of the last vestiges left over from the days of incentivized reviews.
These groups are intended to connect sellers looking to get reviews, with customers looking for free or cheap products. Sellers will offer free products and/or commission on the condition that a 5-star review is posted.
While they are less common now that this practice is illegal, they still exist. Using PayPal to skirt around Amazon, many buyers and sellers operate in these groups.
Participating in a group like this, as a seller, is a bad idea. It’s all too easy for Amazon to find out who is in the group, and as a result, ban you.
Plus, we’ve heard stories about Amazon flagging reviewers who are part of review
Deal groups or sites can be a good option for product launches, quickly liquidating inventory or getting a boost in keyword rankings.
Just watch out for people offering incentivized reviews in these groups. If so it might be best to stay away.
Amazon TOS for Reviews – In Summary
Amazon values trust from their customers highly.
So, while getting reviews is hard, it’s not worth testing shady tactics to try and get ahead. Black-hat tactics catch up to you. All that’s left eventually are the sellers doing things the right way.