One of the most important features of online shopping is reviews. Good reviews, bad reviews, even no reviews help us form an opinion of the value of the item we want to buy. We trust that those reviews come from legitimate, independent buyers, but what if they don’t?
After five months of investigation, Amazon has banned 600 Chinese third-party sellers for “knowingly, repeatedly, and significantly violating Amazon’s policies, especially the ones around review abuse.” Those 600 companies represent 3,000 brands that were being sold through the online retailer.
Incentivized reviews have been banned since 2016, but that has not stopped hundreds of companies from still providing VIP Clubs or refunds with no item return required. Amazon is hoping this latest action will discourage companies from further violations.
The online retailer began removing accounts in May and in July Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology (YKS) reported that 340 of their online stores and $20 million in assets had been frozen. Aided by a rescue fund from the Chinese government, new companies continue to dodge the bans by selling directly to consumers and banned products continue to slip through into search results.
Fake reviews are bad business and in 2020, Amazon stopped more than 200 million fake reviews from reaching their platform. It would be interesting to know how many of those reviews came from the 600 banned companies.
Thanks to ongoing policy enforcement from Amazon, we can continue to rely on reviews from buyers we can trust. In a statement released to The Verge, Amazon had this to say regarding the actions they took:
“Amazon works hard to build a great experience in our store so that customers can shop with confidence and sellers have the opportunity to grow their business amid healthy competition. Customers rely on the accuracy and authenticity of product reviews to make informed purchasing decisions and we have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features. We suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies, wherever they are in the world.
We will continue to improve abuse detection and take enforcement action against bad actors, including those that knowingly engage in multiple and repeated policy violations, including review abuse. We are confident that the steps we take are in the best interests of our customers as well as the honest businesses that make up the vast majority of our global selling community.”
From restaurants to gas stations, the business has become increasingly review based and the authenticity of the reviews has become an increasing concern for consumers. Amazon has shown us exactly how they intend to keep reviews honest and keep us buying confidently.
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