Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!

Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!

Amazon TOS ChangesAre the words Amazon TOS and change coming up in your thoughts and in discussions too much lately? Are you having trouble keeping up with the changes and don’t know where to go for answers right now? Are you feeling more and more confused? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone and I do have some great advice for you. 

I took a quick look around on the internet today and stopped in at some of the “watering holes” where reviewers congregate. I have read multiple emails from different companies and individuals involved with the Reviewer Community, many of from the Seller side of things also. I have read and re-read the new Guidelines for Community ParticipationThe section that affects those of us who love to write product reviews is under the Promotions and Commercial Solicitations section. 

Promotions and Commercial Solicitations

As that reads, it seems that writing a review is no longer allowed on Amazon if a review has been, or is, requested. I know I have many open reviews that I promised to do on Amazon, three of them are very expensive products and now the Sellers are left without a review. I have been trying out the products so I can’t return them, they are no longer new.

Do I publish them with a different disclosure, or maybe no disclosure at all?

Are the different sites where we often find products going to shut down and if they don’t are they breaking TOS?

Can Sellers contact us directly and ask us to review a product? Can we pitch to Sellers?

What about the FB groups and email groups, so many of them are handing out conflicting information, who is right?

The best thing any of us can do right now is to sit back and wait for the dust to settle.  My advice to you is to take a break and do not to publish any reviews on Amazon at all right now.  If you are on a deadline for something, contact the Seller and discuss different options like posting to social media. If you go to them with a plan in mind I think they will readily agree with you.  You do not want to make a mistake at this juncture and jeopardize your account.  If there is someone pressuring you to publish a review on Amazon, please consider whether or not that product, that person, or that group is worth the possibility of losing your account.

In the meantime, I am sure there will be more information forthcoming from Amazon, or at least from different people that have contacted Customer Service and have some verified answers to these questions and more. Consider this a vacation, you deserve one anyway! Take some time off from Reviewing and relax. Enjoy the Fall weather and the changes all around us. Do something special for yourself or a neighbor who could use a helping hand.

I will let you know what I come up with, probably sometime over the weekend or at the first of next week. I know that may seem like a long time when we are so used to being on deadlines and in a hurry. This is really going to be a time to reflect on if you want to continue writing reviews and then consider the best way to go about it if you do want to continue. If you still have an account after all of the wipes the last few months, so many of them senseless, then you really do need to do everything you can to safeguard your account. Giving yourself a few days to consider what you have learned and what I can verify is more than fair enough considering the major changes that have been made lately.

If there are other specific questions you are concerned about, please leave them below so I can gather lots of feedback at one time as I go about verification of  my own questions and yours. It is easier if they are shared here instead of individually through email, thanks!

Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way

5 Responses »

  1. Great advice Lynn and so well put Thank You for your time and efforts at keeping us all informed as we work through Amazons Red Tape issues 🙂 BTW I am sharing this with my Group.

    • Oh thanks Lisa! You know I always love it when anyone reads my posts, much less shares them! I am glad you found the advice helpful. If you let me know of any other questions you hear of specifically, I will try and verify those as well. Hope you are feeling well enough, I know as the weather changes into the cooler temperatures it can be an adjustment for us all….

  2. Once again, everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill. The Tos actually did not change, they just made it 100% clear.

    At no time were any of us ever obligated to review anything we got free or discounted. Follow the exact wording.

    Offering compensation or requesting compensation, (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating modifying or posting content.

    Sellers were only ever allowed to “suggest” that if we had a good or bad experience with their product to leave a review. They were not allowed to “demand”, “require”, “request” or in any other way “ask” for a “positive” rating.

    It’s completely up to us, as reviewers, when and “IF” we leave a review. Regardless of what others believe. If you believe that not leaving a review is ethically or morally wrong, that’s fine, but amazon has a way of wiping if you put too many negatives, or too many positives, so you have to keep your reviewer account well balanced and keep your disclaimer accurate with what the FTC recommends. The worc “exchange” should no longer be in your disclaimer. You still need to write a disclaimer or you violate FTC.

    State the truth, I was provided a testing unit, I have tested this product for xx days/weeks/months and am providing this review of my own accord and have not been compensated in any way, or asked to provide this review.

    The other option would be to not accept anything unless it’s a direct ship item.

    • Karen!

      So good to hear from you! I have been wondering what you have been up to. Keeping busy with your business and that grandbaby I am sure 🙂

      What you have written in your comment is the new wording, the old wording was:

      From the previous Seller Central documentation: “You may request feedback from a buyer, however you may not pay or offer any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback.

      From the old Customer Review Creation Guidelines: The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact.”

      In the past, they could “request” a review and we could accept an exchange. You are correct in saying that according to Amazon, there was no requirement for a review. However, if you belong(ed) to any of the websites, FB groups, or email groups where you could find products that Sellers were ‘requesting” reviews for, you were agreeing to leave a review as your exchange according to the groups/websites rules and or TOS. There were one or two that did not “require” a review at that point in time.

      That is what has always been so difficult, that Amazon has been purposely vague in their wording so they can interpret the way they want. The only thing good that ever came from that is that we met in a discussion group about TOS, lol.

      Now it is completely up to us whether or not to leave a review. The only thing that I am hesitant about is the disclosure. It is an FTC law that we leave a disclosure for any product that we received for free or at a discount if we are writing a review for it. We are basically recommending or endorsing a product when we post a review. In some cases, we are not recommending it, but that is never mentioned a lot is it? 🙂 We should all be well-rounded (I like your word “balanced” better so am going to use that from now on if you don’t mind!) reviewers, every single product we get is not a great product. That is why I love ARAT so much, I can run a report and see if I am “well-balanced” or not. In most cases, that exact report will tell you whether a reviewer is honest. They may research their products first and only review good products which would skew their profile in regards to being well-balanced. I think it is well past the time that I write my post on being a well-balanced reviewer! Some people are probably wondering what the heck we are talking about, sorry folks!

      I think you are on the mark with your disclosure you just shared. Definitely, do not use the word “exchange” in your disclosure. LOL, I would avoid it in your review altogether because it is probably one of the words in Amazon’s algorithm they use to look for people that should be monitored or wiped!

      Even if you are reviewing an item that was direct shipped, it should have a disclosure on it according to the FTC. Those fines are hefty. This is true of any review you write on Amazon or social media, including your blog. Facebook has new guidelines as of this summer about recommending products too, so make sure you have a page as a place you put your reviews, not just your personal profile. Sometimes I slip and put products that I really like on my personal page too, but I should be more vigilant about not doing that now. If there is anyone interested in guidelines for reviewing on different social media outlets I could put something together, but I would have to know there is some interest in it first.

      Let’s plan a late night chat this weekend maybe to catch up? I also have some reports I ran for you this summer that I didn’t upload to Dropbox yet. I wasn’t’ sure if you were reviewing or taking a break.

      Talk soon!
      Lynn Marie

  3. Pingback: Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews – A Treasure Chest of Serendipity

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