Amazon has Reasons not to let that negative review go up (Updated)

Originally published at:


Amazon really seems hell-bent on going full ‘Ameribaba’.

They seem to be OK at things they sell that have SKUs(and cloud computing); but once you wade into the 3rd party and ‘fulfilled by means fungible’ section it’s pretty much eBay or AliExpress; but skinned to create the impression of continuity with the core of the site.




Another dark pattern:

The LEFT IMAGE is what the customer originally sees, upon selecting an item to buy. If you don’t see the problem immediately, that’s the problem.


The Subscribe Now is in exactly the same place as the Add to Cart button normally is. The default selection is a subscription to buy the item regularly! To actually order one item, one time, you have to take the additional step of selecting One-time Purchase first. Then, and only then [RIGHT IMAGE] does the Add to Cart button appear (having changed from Subscribe Now).

It was badly done, indeed!

One reason it’s blatantly obvious to you because I told you to look for it.

And even if you had caught it independently, good for you, but there is going to be a certain, distinct percentage of heavy Amazon users who are thoroughly habituated to clicking Add to Cart without looking closely.

If car dealers started switching the position of the gas pedal and the brake pedals, even if there were large illuminated warnings on the steering wheel, you’re still going to get accidents. In Amazon’s case, the resulting accident is $$PROFIT$$.


I’ve been reviewing on Amazon since 2001, and have never had a problem leaving a bad review. Amazon certainly has issues with reviews, making it much more difficult to wade through, but there’s ways of doing so. Amazon also sometimes has software glitches, but I’ve never seen there’s a correlation with that and bad reviews. Not saying this didn’t happen here, but there’s a lot of other issues that could have contributed to that perception. And I’m saying this as someone who used to be much more pleased with Amazon and am seriously considering dropping Prime this Fall.


I don’t know, it’s usually pretty clear when you are looking at a “Subscribe and Save” item.


The review in the image is the exact kind of review I generally don’t want to see. It’s not a review of the product, it’s a review of the shopping experience. If they had returned the damaged item and the replacement was still damaged I might find it more useful but otherwise you aren’t telling me about the product. At best you’re telling me that you ordered a thing, it showed up broken, and you gave up. That’s not a great look, and it’s not helpful to anyone.


Well, unless you actually tried leaving a higher review and that higher review been allowed with the same text, you might have had a story. As it is, you simply have an unsupported theory as to why you could not leave a review. I have another one. Your review does not mention the product at all. It is a review of the shipping process and Amazon experience in general. Amazon actually has an entire section just so you can leave reviews on the shipping experience and another place to provide feedback for the shopping experience.
Since you decided to skip those perfectly acceptable and appropriate venues to complain/ask for a resolution to your problem and since the product reviews are intended to help people learn more about the product and not your specific shipping problem, it seems to me that the blocking of your review was completely appropriate.
Next time you come up with a conspiracy theory that can be tested with a single click, go ahead and make that click to find out if you are playing with a full deck.


No it’s not. They are not implicitly different noting that you are subscribing or purchasing one time. Especially with the buttons looking exactly the same. This is designed to make the user not notice that something is different from the regular single time buying experience. It should be blatantly obvious (Color, button style) that these are two different process not making them look so similar that you may not notice the difference.


the exact kind of review I generally don’t want to see. It’s not a review of the product, it’s a review of the shopping experience.

I recently had a “one-click / prime” purchase that wound up as a 3rd-party sale fulfilled by amazon. The product I received was a manufacturing defect factory second in (what I later discovered to be) non-retail packaging from the factory outlet.

The item in question is one of those that, like a MacBook or a KitchenAid mixer, is never available at a discount. I paid full price.

My review (3 stars, with the hope that it’d be read) said something to the effect of:

  • I like the product
  • Watch out for seller xyz
  • Retail packaging should look like such-and-such
  • I’m pissed at the OEM for creating this problem and not policing it well

The review was rejected. The seller is still hawking flawed product on Amazon.

Would my review have been one that you want to see or don’t want to see?


Since the button says something completely different and has a frequency box above it, it’s blatantly obvious to me. I mean, you may buy things rapidly and click without reading but is that the common experience? Are people being “tricked” or are some people being hasty?


I’ve actually stopped reviewing products all together this year. They own your reviews and will make money off it, they heavily encourage you leaving a review (I get an email once every week or two trying to remind me to leave a review for X thing I bought). Not going to play that game, I know a good portion of the reviews are BS and I’m particularly annoyed at the sheer number of knockoffs and cheap mystery Chinese brands. Unless Amazon wants to pay me for my time or let me properly filter out shitty items from their listings I’m not playing ball.

People always say to avoid the one star reviews, but I love them. They tell me a lot about whether people are knocking a product because it arrived damaged, they clearly ordered the wrong item and blame the product, they broke it themselves from misuse, etc. Oh, and the classic “It wasn’t what I wanted but I waited three years to open it so now I can’t return it; one star!” reviews. If I see 10% one star reviews and they are 90% morons, I know I’m good! Conversely, if they consistently show a common failure I avoid it.

To wit, yesterday I was looking for a new boiling kettle with variable temps. There were a fairly low number of one star reviews and they were mostly about “staining” which was actually calcium buildup from their hard water and similar type complaints. At that point 2-3 star review become the most informative about actual product issues.


I think I wouldn’t want to see it unless the listing is only for the product sold by a 3rd party. The review is meant to be a review of the product and there are venues in Amazon to rate sellers. Providing feedback about your purchasing experience in the appropriate forum is more likely to yield results for you and future customers.

Remember that your review is usually attached to the product listing not to a particular seller.


I tend to be super deliberate when buying items regardless of the site and i’ve almost made purchases before under the subscription option. Either because i got distracted or forgot to make a change. Thankfully i haven’t made that mistake but because of how they’ve set it up it seems to subtly encourage this oversight. I can’t imagine that design decision is an accident.


I usually skim the one star reviews to see what the main complaint is. It’s often not about the product. You’re right in saying that it usually says more about the customer than the product.

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Yeah, I usually mark those as “not helpful”, along with the ones that say “Bought this for my grandson’s birthday next month. I’m sure he’ll like it! 5 Stars!”


You may be right. For my part, I’ve seen it again and again. Website development teams prefer to keep the same look and feel by reusing elements as much as possible. This keeps design easier and provides and nice clean consistent look so in that sense, the decision is definitely not an accident. Ascribing a motive of wanting to “trick” someone however seems a but unfounded.

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IIRC, there are a couple more steps that warn you before you actually subscribe to an item.

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The motive is a recurring subscription, Amazon isn’t the first to try to subtly trick people into repeatedly paying for something they don’t need. I don’t think they are twirling their mustaches and plotting but it’d be naive to think that their current set up is designed not to make extra profit.