Amazon may have a different kind of review problem on its hands
Amazon.com has come under scrutiny and criticism for some time over third-party sellers using false consumer reviews to promote the products they sell. Now, however, a different kind of review issue has arisen that could make customers feel uncomfortable when it comes to purchasing products from third-party sellers on the site.
A recent Wall Street Journal article provided an account of an Amazon customer who was unhappy about a $10 cooking oil spray she purchased and made her feelings known with a negative review. About a week after leaving the review, the customer identified by the paper as Katherine Scott of New York, received a direct email from the seller offering her a full refund and also asking her to remove her negative comments.
Ms. Scott replied that she would accept the refund, but would not remove the negative review. She was contacted via email the very next day by another representative who said the seller would not issue a refund unless she removed the review. Further, if she reconsidered and took down the review, the seller would issue her a refund of double her purchase price. A lack of reply on Ms. Scott’s part brought another email from the same email address.
“It was so creepy. They emailed me directly about it over and over,” Ms. Scott told the Journal.
Amazon, for its part, does not allow third-party sellers direct access to the emails of customers shopping on its platform. Sellers are required to use Amazon’s messaging platform to communicate with customers.
The company also doesn’t permit sellers to ask customers to remove negative reviews, although it is not totally out of the ordinary to receive offers through Amazon’s system for discounts or free products in the future if a glowing five-star rating and review follows a purchase.
Reviews remain an important part of the online shopping experience, despite concerns. A YouGov survey taken in late April found that 78 percent of Americans found online reviews useful in making purchasing decisions.
Amazon in June published a blog in which the company claimed that fewer than one percent of the reviews on its site are fraudulent and that its policing had stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from ever being seen by shoppers on its platform.
- When Amazon Customers Leave Negative Reviews, Some Sellers Hunt Them Down – The Wall Street Journal
- Creating a trustworthy reviews experience – Amazon blog
- Most consumers trust review sites. Here’s what they use them for most – YouGov
- Will online reviews keep their Teflon reputation? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the shopper’s account reported in the WSJ article point to a new security issue for Amazon? Is there a proper way for retailers and consumer direct brands to approach unhappy customers leaving negative reviews to try and turn them into fans?