Reviews deleted by Amazon? Here’s why

They come every day, the bewildered, the indignant, and the ones who hope that posters in Amazon’s TRF are stupid. The bewildered and the indignant are looking for help, they have been following the “rules” and have no idea why Amazon has deleted their reviews and removed their reviewing privileges. The ones that hope the Amazon posters are stupid know precisely what they have done and when confronted with the proof they rant, rave, and revile, and keep repeating over and over they were “honest” and “unbiased”.

Um, no.

Coupon clubs like AMZ Review Trader and Tomoson have sprung up a they supply  nd inundated the Amazon review system with thousands of reviews. Despite what they claim these sites do indeed know exactly why their reviewers are getting purged.

What is a coupon club? Very simply, they supply a service. A seller buys a set deal for a number of products and supplies a large number of coupon codes for reviewers. People wishing to obtain discounted or free products sign up with the club and approved for certain products and given a coupon code. We aren’t talking 25-50 codes per product here, we are talking hundreds.

What does this do? It is a form of manipulation, the more “purchases”, the more reviews, the more times a product is added to a Wish List, the more visual recognition that product gets. Until well-known brands are listed under the off brands.

This might not be a problem if you are clued in to what is going on but if not then a buyer could be lulled into thinking that Madame Fou-Fou’s Face Cream is as good as or better than Estee lauder or Clinique or Guerlain. In reality Madame Fou-Fou’s Face Cream may not even contain what is listed on the label. How do you know for sure? Those 300 glowing 5 star reviews? They received the product, let’s say 3 days ago, along with another face cream, an anti-wrinkle serum, and 2 bottles of supplements from God knows where. They slap a little on their faces, down a few capsules, and if they don’t fall over dead or in a coma or have their skin start to peel off their faces then they give it a good review and order someone else’s creams and supplements.

It’s big business for someone, just not good business. The reviewers believe (the bewildered and indignant ones) that they are helping poor, struggling sellers claw their way up the profit ladder at Amazon so they can feed their families and help their communities. Or something like that.

They never stop to ask how those struggling sellers can afford to give away hundreds of their product. And they fail to understand what the Amazon review is for and who the Amazon reviewer is.

Again simply, Amazon reviews are written by and for Amazon customers. Let me repeat that: Amazon reviews are written by and for Amazon customers. And now Amazon is cleaning house. And the reviewers come to the forums looking for answers and help.

So here is help. One of the regular TRF posters, Maine Colonial, created this post. If you are a coupon club reviewer, are thinking about becoming one, know one, were one, or are a customer disgusted by the influx of “honest and unbiased” reviews, then read this:

Amazon has been purging lots of reviewers over the past several months, meaning wiping out all of their reviews and removing their reviewing privileges. People who have been purged often come here looking for answers, because they have received no notice from Amazon or, at most, an after-the-fact email saying they may have engaged in manipulation or violated Amazon’s Terms of Service.

We are not Amazon employees on this forum, but we’ve read a lot here, on Facebook, Reddit and other places; enough to give us some good ideas about what’s behind the purges. And what we see is that by far the #1 common denominator of the purged reviewers has been membership in AMZ Review Traders or another “coupon club” on Facebook or its own website that gives out discounted products in exchange for reviews posted on Amazon. These outfits try to make you believe they are associated with Amazon, which is not at all true. They act as if their rules are the same as Amazon’s but the fact is that they are often contrary to Amazon’s and if you follow them, you’re likely to lose your reviews and reviewing ability.

If you have never done any discount coupon reviewing, then jump way down in this post for some other activities that seem to lead to purging.

First, I have to warn you that ALL of the purged couponers say “I obeyed all the rules and my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased.” You’re kidding yourself, because the way the coupon system works is biased in favor of sellers, and anyone who follows the coupon club rules and requests is almost bound to have violated Amazon’s policies. You may not have realized it, but just being in the coupon club system is a problem, regardless of the content of your reviews and how accurate you believe your ratings are.

Every time you did any of these things, you helped a vendor violate Amazon’s term for sellers:

▶︎ Reviewed a product from a vendor who gave out huge numbers of discount codes (even if those huge numbers of codes were given out after yours);

▶︎ Went to the vendor’s product listing on Amazon by using a link provided by the vendor that included search terms in it, not just the products ASIN identification on Amazon (these links are called super URLs);

▶︎ Added products to your Amazon wish list at the vendor’s request;

▶︎ At the vendor’s request, you upvoted positive reviews on products and/or downvoted negative reviews;

▶︎ Agreed to the vendor’s request to contact it before posting a negative review;

▶︎ Reviewed to help the seller;

▶︎ Got an Amazon Verified Purchase on a product even though you got the product at a deep discount. (Amazon is removing those AVPs now, but that’s a recent development.)

All of these things manipulate Amazon’s product ranking algorithms, which falsely elevates products in the results when a shopper is looking for something on Amazon. Does it make sense that no-name products would dominate search results, so that a shopper would have to wade through pages of them before finding established brands like OXO, Zyliss, Anker, Eucerin and other recognizable names? Of course not, but it happened because of these manipulative practices, and shoppers spending their own money complained loudly. Now Amazon is cracking down and wiping out reviews and reviewers who are part of the manipulative system.

I could stop here and say that it’s not your fault you were purged; you were just an unwitting victim of vendor wrongdoing. But that’s not entirely true.

➠ When a vendor told you that you needed to post your review right away or named a time limit of just a few days, didn’t it occur to you that it didn’t give you enough time to use the product the way a real purchaser would?

➠ When the vendor asked you not to post a negative review, didn’t you suspect that they really just went on selling the product rather than fixing the problems?

➠ When the vendors graded you on your reviews, giving higher-graded reviewers better and more products, didn’t you notice that the way to get good vendor grades was to quickly post high-rated reviews and lots of them? Did you think that was really helping shoppers who are spending their own hard-earned money on Amazon?

➠ Did you post lots of reviews over a short period of time? Do you think it’s truly helpful to shoppers for you write large volumes of short, unspecific reviews that you didn’t spend a lot of time, thought and effort on?

➠ Did your star ratings match up with the text of your reviews? We’ve seen so many cases where a coupon reviewer will report that a product didn’t work or had some real problems, and yet the reviewer gives the product three, four or even five stars. That’s a betrayal of the shoppers who are trying to use reviews to make good shopping choices.

➠ When you posted reviews for multiple beauty aids and/or supplements, didn’t you realize it was dishonest to claim you used them all and could tell which one actually had the effect you claimed in your review?

➠ When you picked these beauty aids and supplements, didn’t you wonder how the vendor could afford to send out so many at such big discounts when the name brands cost a lot more money? Did you verify that they contained the ingredients they claimed? Did it cross you mind that maybe they didn’t and could actually be harmful?

➠ Were you an Amazon reviewer before you started reviewing for discount-coupon products? If not, did you familiarize yourself with the way regular Amazon reviewers write reviews? Did you read Amazon’s guidelines for reviews? (That’s *Amazon’s* guidelines, not what the coupon club and vendors *told* you the rules/guidelines are.) If you had done that, you would have noticed that reviews that Amazon shoppers vote as helpful are full of information that a shopper would want to know about the product, and they tend *not* to be full of misspelled words and incorrect punctuation and capitalization.

➠ When vendors wanted you to have a Prime membership so that they could use that to get free shipping to send their products to you, did you think that was something Amazon would be OK with? Think about it. Shipping is expensive and you were getting that vendor a whole lot of free shipping–for stuff that Amazon wasn’t exactly cleaning up on in a big way.

****************

What if you aren’t a coupon reviewer but you’ve been purged? Well, we don’t know much about that situation, but there are some possibilities.

Did you do a lot of review “washing,” meaning deleting a review and reposting it? Amazon used to tell people washing was just fine, but they changed their position sometime in 2015. Washing strips away negative votes, so that’s now considered to be review manipulation. It’s still not clear how washing could lead to a purge, though. Some people purged admit they washed, at least sometimes. But others point to a number of very highly ranked reviewers who still do the washing regularly.

Another practice that may lead to a purge is using multiple reviewing accounts. Amazon has a problem if someone has more than one reviewing account and uses them to review the same product(s). This is considered to be review manipulation. Using multiple accounts to vote on reviews is also considered to be review manipulation.

Being a paid reviewer (a Fiverr reviewer, for example) is a sure-fire way to be purged.

Amazon uses various analytics to identify cases in which a reviewer has a relationship with the product reviewed. For example, friends-and-family reviews, quid pro quo reviews (popular among author groups). These violations of Amazon’s reviewing rules are more likely to lead to the offending reviews being removed, not to a purge of the reviewer’s entire portfolio and loss of reviewing privileges.

A murky area is the case of reviewers who post reviews both on Amazon and on their own blogs, with links from the blog to Amazon that result in the blogger/reviewer receiving pay if the person clicking on the link then buys the item on Amazon. It’s not at all clear at this time, but it appears that this scenario can lead to a purge. Until more is known, a blogger who has monetized his/her blog might be better off not reviewing the same product on both the blog and Amazon.

Amazon now invites people to notify them if they think anyone is engaged in review manipulation. So there may be cases where a purge came about because of Amazon studying someone’s review portfolio after that person has been reported.

If you want to appeal your purging, you can write to review-appeals@amazon.com. From what we’ve seen, you get one opportunity to make your case, but your chances of a reprieve are almost nonexistent. If you do decide to write, claiming you didn’t do anything wrong isn’t likely to help you. It’s better to try to figure out what you might have done that Amazon could have had a problem with, acknowledge that problem and affirm that you understand why that’s an issue and you won’t do it anymore.

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