The New York Times broke the story that an Amazon seller, VIP Deals, offered a full rebate on its products in exchange for online reviews. See here a video report from Newsy:
Embedded Video Source by Newsy.com
Transcript by Newsy
BY ADNAN S. KHAN
ANCHOR ANTHONY MARTINEZ
Great reviews may make people more likely to buy a product — so why not bribe your customers in hopes of getting some solid stars. Seems to be working for one Amazon seller called VIP Deals.
The New York Times broke this story, saying the VIP Deals sold its new Vipertek Kindle Fire covers with a rebate that refunded the full price of product, if customers would go online and write a review.
The result — 310 out of 335 reviews were five stars, with the rest being four stars. The New York Times writes…
“The acclaim seemed authentic, barring the occasional indiscretion. ‘I would have done 4 stars instead of 5 without the deal,’ one man bluntly wrote.”
To be fair, VIP Deals did not straightforward ask for 5 stars — the content of the review depended completely on the reviewer. But the company did leave a note stating ‘we strive to earn 100 percent perfect ‘FIVE-STAR’ scores from you!’
TIME magazine writes — though many are outraged, there are those who support this kind of motivation.
“One man, who has been a seller on Amazon and admitted to getting and giving freebies for writing reviews, wrote: ‘It is not a scam but an incentive.’ But any incentive that skews results, misleads consumers, and calls into question the entire world of ‘objective’ online reviews sure stinks like something of a scam.”
After The New York Times story broke, the product and reviews were removed from Amazon’s website. Digital Trend notes this isn’t the first time companies have tried to rig peer reviews.
“During late January 2009, networking and peripheral gear maker Belkin was busted using the Amazon-owned Mechanical Turk service to purchase positive reviews for 65 cents each.”
So how important are these peer reviews for buyers and sellers? A contributor for Forbes says peer reviews are more influential than some of the top review sites.
“More importantly, these ‘peer’ reviews have attained such influence, they’ve pretty much usurped the influence of professional gadget, restaurant, and film reviewers at media outlets like CNET, New York and TIME magazine, respectively, who do this full-time for a living.”
Transcript by Newsy.
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