Amazon is suing company that sells reviews



Your link is broken, so here ya go. Happy Friday!

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If anyone finds the filed complaint, could they post it here?

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I remember when Amazon only sold books. Even now a review of a book is unlikely to sway me regardless of the number of stars because then and now I don’t browse for books in Amazon the way I do in a bookstore. Of course the number of bookstores has greatly diminished.

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Testing my Google foo, I found it on Ars Technica’s content delivery network. I’m going to be nice to them and post the article they have that has a link to it.

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Am I the only one annoyed by the misspelling of Amazon for their site? “Azon” is driving me nuts. Good on Amazon for trying to address this problem though.

Amazon is super, super useful for anyone who doesn’t have a car and frequently wants to purchase items that can’t be gotten from the local grocery store–various cables, chargers, adapters, and related hardware, in my case. The reviews are critical to me, because e.g. there’s a hundred zillion USB chargers that claim to deliver the full 1 amp needed by modern smart phones, and most of them are lying through their teeth because they know that most people don’t have the knowledge or equipment to check. Amazon reviews tell me whether any given Chinese gadget actually works as advertised or not.


I’d take 2:1 odds the suit gets thrown out, except we all know who has the best lawyers. You may not like phony reviews, but I am not convinced they are actionable.

My company sells on Amazon, and this fake review company contacts us several times a week trying to get us to buy reviews from them. It’s annoying, and they always use different accounts so you can’t really block them.

You can’t even totally ignore them. Amazon requires that you respond to any customer communication within 24 hours or you get a defect. So every time they spam us, we have to open the email, check some boxes, then click a button. It’s a minor annoyance for sure, but it’s still an annoyance.

I wonder what the implications will be for sellers who took them up on the offer. Since they use Amazon’s message system and include a link to their site, Amazon should easily be able to track down anyone who did business with them.


I am not a lawyer, but from a layman’s perspective it sure looks like fraud. Even if not, it probably runs into Amazon’s terms of service.


I thought something similar later when I went back and read the linked article. I noticed one of the “reviews” was for a USB cord. I think I know a couple of brick and mortar places near me where I could buy a USB cord, but since I don’t know them from Shinola I’d probably check Amazon first, and just as likely go ahead and buy it from Amazon unless the need was really urgent. There are a lot of products where a review would make the difference.

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And at least here, the libraries are out of reach, and the local bookstore doesn’t carry a lot of books on the subjects that interest me or that are otherwise important to me.

Which reminds me: I haven’t read any good books on early birds since Gregory S. Paul’s book, which my dad had a copy of.

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The problem is that the unbranded cables are likely not sold by Amazon themselves, but rather through their merchant network. And different merchants likely have different products they’re selling under the same listing. And or course the reviews rarely state what merchant they bought it through. So that cable from merchant X that got good reviews may be a different cable when you buy it from merchant A, B, C, or whomever is currently selling it.

Do they have standing? Is Amazon being injured by reviews that drive more sales that Amazon profits off of? Are the reviews false or misleading statements of fact?

I find it interesting that Amazon is doing this when their own “Vine” program, where people get free products so long as they review them, is basically a way for manufacturers to buy “honest” reviews.

Standing, really? Neither you nor I know if return rates or customer loyalty is harmed by this practice (I suspect it is). And brand loyalty is a metric any large company can calculate. So yes, I would posit they have standing.

BTW, I am not trying to be a jerk. In fact, considering my current circumstances I may need to hire you. I like fighters that consider all angles.

That does sound like a potential problem, but it’s not one I’ve encountered.

Seems to me that Amazon is injured in the long term if their reviews become less reliable, since people are less likely to buy if they don’t feel that they can trust product quality. Also, e.g. “I loved this product, I worked great for me” for a product you’ve never touched or seen sounds like a false statement of fact.

Again, IANAL, and I have no idea how those arguments would stand up in court. But it sounds like you’re going beyond a legal evaluation and saying “this isn’t a real problem and Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to do anything about it.” I disagree.

Which reminds me (even tho it’s off topic), have you read All the Birds Singing? I loved it.

And speaking of Amazon, I’d like to see more exposure of their variable-pricing schemes. Is it even true that I’m being charged different prices from the folks say, right next door to me, because my tracked buying and viewing habits differ from theirs?

Maybe, but they would have to show any delta in brand loyalty is attributable to these paid reviews. And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of unpaid worthless reviews out there, which is why they solicit opinions on the helpfulness of reviews.

On the other hand, does this mean that amazon is profiting off of unpaid, legitimate reviews? Aren’t there ethical problems with this?

I don’t know what these paid reviews typically look like. But I do know that a lot of reviews are essentially subjective, and that it’s not that reasonable for people to rely on many of them when buying (detailed reviews like the cable ones you’ve described are an exception, as they may materially affect a reasonable customer’s decision).

Now, how about fake Yelp reviews used to hammer businesses whose fuck-ups have gone viral? Would it be appropriate to sue the authors of those reviews for fraud?

Or simply show product return deltas between natural 4 star reviews and fake. With teradata access that would take me… 35 minutes?

Standing in this case is easy to assess. And I know the guys up there, they are even better than me.