4

A few days ago, out of the blue I was contacted by a purported Amazon seller who is probably based in China, about sending me a product in their catalog in exchange for a review. They probably got my mail from one of the reviews I have left in products that I have actually purchased myself.

I responded with a non-committal approach to see what would be the catch, and what I got back is that I have to buy the product from Amazon and then they will refund the value of the product. This is because that way the review would have a Verified Purchase mark, which probably nets them a better position in Amazon's search algorithms.

This smells like a scam because I'm not sure how they would be gaming Amazon's system this way, given that for heavily discounted products, verified purchases don't keep the mark. Also no real details on how they would refund such a purchase. No phone, contact information besides their mail address.

Is this a known scam or a legitimate tactic some sellers from Amazon use to buy reviews?

  • 2
    This exchange only has value for you if you want the product and the time you spend on the review and the refund process is low. Do you actually want the product(s) being offered? – Freiheit Feb 21 at 15:25
  • I guess I could use them and don't mind being a review guinea pig, but I would rather not do anything that goes against any Terms of Use. I've checked Amazon's policies and nothing specifically restricts this as far as I've seen, as a user/buyer. – Eriol Feb 21 at 21:07
  • @Eriol I’ve edited my answer to include that info. – Vicky Feb 22 at 7:10
9

I had a similar offer recently from a seller from whom I had previously bought a product. They specified that I had to buy a particular product, leave a 5 star review for it and then email them with my PayPal account and they would pay me back the cost of the purchase via PayPal.

Obviously there’s a chance this is a scam against the buyer, but I actually think it’s more likely to be a scam against Amazon. Because the refund is offered outside Amazon’s systems (and the initial contact they made with me through Amazons message system had no details, I had to switch to email to get the info) there is no proof of any wrongdoing and so the 5 star review and the verified purchase check mark still stand and appear legitimate.

This would be against the Amazon seller Ts and Cs, specifically:

Act fairly at all times. Unfair behavior includes but is not limited to the following:
- Behavior that could be deemed as manipulation or "gaming" of any part of the buying or selling experience
- Actions that could be perceived as manipulating customer reviews, including by directly or indirectly contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content
- Activities that could be perceived as attempting to manipulate Amazon's search results or sales rankings
- [...]

  • I also wonder if it is against the buyers Ts and Cs too. – Freiheit Feb 21 at 15:26
  • It would be great if someone who has a seller account could verify. – Eriol Feb 21 at 21:20
5

I've done this, they sent me the money via paypal first, I bought the item and then wrote a review. Nothing was done directly through amazon, so it wouldn't appear as a heavily discounted item. (i'd got into contact from replying to a spam email as I was bored). They didn't tell me I had to write a five star review, but could tell they were expecting it. Its a scam against Amazon and is against their terms and conditions and so could potentially cause issues such as account suspension if you were caught.

I would only do it with the money up front. I can't recommend it because (A) its unethical for many reasons (e.g. you want to be able to trust reviews) and could lead to account being banned and (B) because the sellers list of items was mostly junk that I didn't really need (it would be more tempting if we were talking about big ticket items)

  • If I accepted such an offer I would probably review them as honestly as possible, no matter if the product was free, ethically speaking. I am also a consumer and I know how hard it is to trust reviews. Maybe that would make them stop sending me products but it's really no big loss on my side as long as I get my money back. – Eriol Feb 21 at 21:24
  • Yes, as long as you get the money first there really is no risk. I wouldn't do it on a money later basis. – Tim Feb 22 at 10:02

protected by JTP - Apologise to Monica Feb 21 at 15:30

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