Category Archives: Amazon TOS

Amazon Changes Promotional Content in Customer Reviews Again!

Amazon Changes Promotional Content in Customer Reviews Again!

Amazon has once again made changes to their Promotional Content in Customer Reviews. I thought there would be some changes to their policy, some fine tuning. I never imagined that they would go in this direction.

They have added some “clarification” that seems to negate their last changes, especially what was in the changes on Seller Central which I didn’t even talk about on here.

Here is what is relevant in the new policy:

Amazon Customer Promotional Content Reviews

So what does this mean? To me, it seems like they are going back on their previous ban on getting products through third party websites or groups. However, the Seller can still not ask for a review. They have also put in further clarification prohibiting other benefits besides the product and added that the review can’t affect your membership in a program or club and that the Reviewers ratings or referrals in any club can’t be affected by whether or not they write the review.  It seems also that there can be no monitoring of whether or not a review is written for the product.

If you do decide to start reviewing right away, you MUST include a disclosure (disclaimer).  If you don’t, you could be facing hefty FTC fines. I would go with something simple like “I received this product for free, I was in no way obligated to leave a review.” If you got it at a discount, use that word instead of “free.” DO NOT use the word “exchange” in your review. 

promotional-content-in-customer-reviewsWhat do you think? I am not sure I will jump right back on the bandwagon. Things are changing too quickly, one right after another, and the day to day wondering whether any review I write will remain on Amazon or not is not worth it at this point. After another short period of “letting the dust settle,” I may jump back in… I am interested now in looking at any trends in the reviews that are deleted from our accounts now. Were they from products that we got through a club? Were they from Sellers who just aren’t on Amazon anymore? Has anyone heard of any other bloggers who have been looking at that? Would love to know if anyone has.

I would also love to know what you think and what your plans are!


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


Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Don't give up hopeWhen change happens and it is unexpected, it can often seem overwhelming and tragic. Sometimes even when we know a big change is coming, it still tears us up, leaving us angry and/or depressed.

Have you ever lost a job that you really loved? A job where you worked so hard and put everything you had into making someone else’s business a success, and then were let go without a word of thanks?

What about an unexpected break up? Were you ever in a relationship that seemed to be going along fine, things were progressing, but then one day it was over and you weren’t really sure what happened?

Were you one of the people that had your Amazon account wiped or do you know someone who had their account wiped? It can be a devastating experience for some people. In a sense, many people feel like they have been wiped by the recent changes at Amazon. They haven’t lost their reviews or their privileges, but they have lost the way they do things. For many, reviewing was their main hobby and how they spent their free time. Now to not be able to have their routine, how will their lives change?

Change can be hard, but life is full of change. I want to share this story written by an inspirational person who I happened to met along my own Amazon journey. In it, she shares how she handled the major change in her life when her review account was wiped. She actually wrote this guest post two months ago, but something always seemed to come up and I never got it posted. It must be Serendipity because now is the perfect time for it.


It happened.

After reviewing on many of Amazon’s sites between 2010 and 2016, I woke up one day to the dreaded email. You know the one, it reads something like, “You may have violated our terms of service and are no longer permitted to post reviews…” Gotta love that ‘may have’. See, they’re smart. By not giving any specifics, our sue-happy society is hard-pressed to find anyone willing to take on any type of civil case. They did not specifically accuse me of anything – they claimed that I may have done something to violate their very ambiguous terms of service.

Personally, my theory on why this happened to me is basically that I outstayed my welcome. I redeemed literally thousands of promotional codes for free and deeply discounted items on their site. But I’ll never know for sure – perhaps I did violate their terms. In the 2400+ reviews I posted on just their American site, there’s a really good chance that I made mistakes along the way!

I started reviewing when a product royally pissed me off and I felt the need to share my poor experience with anyone I could. The review quickly grew in popularity and Amazon requested I write more. With just a couple of reviews on the site, I was ranked in the 12,000s. Being a huge fan and frequent shopper of the site, I complied, writing reviews from everything from complex reports on books to two-liners on groceries and household goods and everything in between.

I didn’t think too much of my rank, having a good time helping independent authors by sharing my thoughts on their work and I like to think, fellow consumers by sharing my experience with various products. The majority of my reviews included photos and a few had videos.

Eventually, I believe I was in the 8000s window when sellers started contacting me, requesting I try their products. While most people seem to get totally rabid at the mention of “Free Stuff”, I was always pretty selective about what I’d review. I’d stop and think, Do I really want to write about this? If it was something myself or a member of my immediate family could honestly use and something that wasn’t going to be too much of a pain to write about, I’d go for it. As long as it was at least 99% off. That’s another thing I was selective about – it had to be free or pretty darn close to free.

I’m not gonna lie – having dozens of packages show up seven days a week was super fun. I definitely became addicted. My apartment, at times, looked like it belonged on an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive and sadly, that’s not an exaggeration. I joined some of the Facebook groups and watched for opportunities to snag even more free stuff. Many were shady or dramatic or just plain annoying – I left those ones quickly. However, I found some that I really liked, whose admins didn’t nag too much and who tried to keep their terms compliant with Amazon’s. Of course, Amazon’s terms are so ambiguous – there is much debate over how exactly to do that. That’s a long discussion worthy of its own post – so I won’t open that can of worms here.

My reviewing habit definitely got out of control. I was never late on reviews, never legitimately on those naughty lists. I always got them done… but it was extremely time consuming. At one point, I installed Grammarly and according to my weekly reports, I was writing over 50,000 words per week. That is insane. I edit novels that are around that length. Since I’ve stopped posting reviews on Amazon, I’m only writing about 5,000 words weekly. That should give you an idea of the volume of reviews I was posting just on Amazon.

Remember – Amazon isn’t the only place to post reviews. I still review on numerous other sites such as other retailers, traveler sites, etc. I’ve mystery shopped, I’ve test-stayed for Disney – this sort of thing is far from foreign to me. But Amazon is definitely the easiest and seemingly the most popular. Though, many sellers I’ve spoken to are exploring and moving to other avenues because of the mass ‘wipings’ Amazon seems to be doing lately.

Sometime in the last year or so, Amazon became really infamous for wiping accounts, seeming to “crack down” on the scammers, cheaters, etc. (You might notice this is around the same time they publicly came under fire for being infiltrated with fake reviews.) As a result, I watched this wave of panic take over the reviewing circuit. I realized that my time as an Amazon reviewer would run out – the question was when. It could be in an hour or another year. So I decided to make the most of it – hence those 50,000 words per week!

There wasn’t anything that triggered this attitude for me, other than the reality of the fact that – Amazon isn’t stupid. While I shop for literally EVERYthing that isn’t perishable on their site – at full price – I figured they still wouldn’t take too kindly to the thousands of promos I was using. Talk about taking advantage of my Prime membership – that free shipping isn’t cheap for them.

When it got to the point that people were creating Amazon accounts and buying Prime memberships just for the sake of being able to get free stuff, I knew Amazon would soon crack down. And they did. Hence all these infamous wipings.

While I, in theory, seemed safe, I figured in reality no one is. I’ve been a customer of Amazon since 2004. I’ve been a Prime member since 2009 and buying ALL of my household items, pet items and non-perishable grocery items on there ever since. Every month, my Subscribe & Save delivery is huge, every week I get several Pantry boxes – not to mention all of the other random things and the 8,000 eBooks, movies and TV shows in my cloud… Any time we need anything, Amazon is our go-to. I’m far from one of these bandwagon free-stuff seekers. The thing is, it doesn’t matter.

I reviewed my “legitimate” or promo-free purchases, just the same as my promo-purchases. I’ve never sold review items, I’ve never posted a paid review or a fake review. Amazon doesn’t know that. No one can know that – except for me. Amazon doesn’t know about the pages and devices full of notes I took, legitimately and honestly testing products before gathering said notes into honest reviews. I’m guessing they wouldn’t care if they did.

I did receive one warning. There was one time I reviewed a sleep mask, I remember it well. I got trigger-happy and hit “submit” before I’d finished the review! I thought, Shit! I’d left out the disclaimer! I immediately hit ‘edit’ and of course, added a disclaimer and saved the review. It didn’t matter. They emailed me stating that, because I’d left out a disclaimer, my review had been suppressed and if it happened again, I “might” have my reviewing privilege revoked. I emailed back and forth with them, explaining it was an honest mistake, which they could clearly see by my immediate edit. None of that mattered. I’d given them a reason to put me on notice.

That was over a year before I got wiped and to my knowledge, it was an isolated incident. I was never warned or reprimanded by them again. Until the dreaded message in which I was informed I’d been wiped.

One of my authors actually noticed before I did. I had a message from her, “Your reviews of all of my books are gone.” I knew in that instant that my time had come. I checked my email and found the confirming email. Of course I went through the motions of appealing. I even emailed Jeff Bezos and got a personal response that included an email for the Communities team that differs from the one everyone knows, encouraged to reach out. However, I never heard back from them, unsurprisingly. If they reversed their decision for me, they’d be more pressured / expected to do it for others. They’d lose some of the upper hand they have going on how. Plus, reversing my ‘wiping’ might send out a message that they do make mistakes. We can’t have that now, can we?

They’re citing “relationship with seller/author” in my case. They’re not wrong. When I love a book, if I don’t already know the author, I reach out to them. Social media has made that possible. Obviously, in order to obtain a promotional code from a seller for a free item, I’ve talked with them at least a little bit too. Depending on their definition of “relationship”, we all have a relationship with every vendor/author we’ve ever reviewed. More ambiguity.

While I was reviewing with the realization that it wouldn’t be forever, I always thought that when the time came, I’d be devastated. I had a lot of reviews to lose and a lot of time invested and I was really enjoying all of the free and deeply discounted goods. I was wrong.

The only way to make sense of changeAfter confirming that my profile was gone and I could in fact, no longer post new reviews, I felt relief. SO MUCH time had just been freed up. I realized I didn’t actually need anything. I never pitched sellers, just opted into fun things that came to me. So, I’m not really ‘out’ anything. I looked at it as taking what I could get and enjoying it while it lasted. Now – I do enjoy being able to try out the majority of my purchases without stopping to take notes and pictures along the way!

I had a great time while it lasted, and like most good things, it had to end some time.

There Is Life After Amazon !!!

Sellers still pitch me constantly, even though my profile has been gone for, I think it’s been about 6 weeks now. Many are sellers I’ve worked with before, but many are new to me. If the item is something I’m interested in, I explain that I cannot post to Amazon any more but I’d be happy to post anywhere else (my blog, other retailers, social media sharing, etc.). So I still review a ton – just not at the obsessive hoarder level I was at before. And a weight has definitely been lifted from my shoulders.

L.j. Redding – PelicanFreak


I remember being online the morning L.j. found out she was wiped, I felt devastated! I knew how hard she worked on her reviews and how much she loved doing them. I was so nervous to bring it up, I didn’t want to make her feel worse than she already did but knew I had to let her know that I was sorry she had been wiped. When we started chatting on Messenger, I could actually feel her relief myself! I could tell she was more relaxed and enjoying doing things she hadn’t had time to do in a while. She was baking up a storm, coloring, and of course, reading. And she was truly happy.

Don't be afraid to changeThere are many things that can help us through the unpleasant changes in our lives. Faith and hope come to mind. Sometimes it is our attitude that will carry us through the rough times. L.j. chose to be happy instead of bitter and allowed herself to recognize and acknowledge the actual relief she felt. I think the biggest lesson here is sometimes what we think we need in our lives, isn’t really what makes us happy. 

Thank you L.j. for sharing your story!


How about you? Can you think of a change in your life that you just knew was going to be awful but turned into something else?


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


Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

keep-calm-and-experience-serendipity🌟”Late Reviews”  🌟ARAT  

🌟Blogging  🌟Social Media

🌟Other Opportunities  🌟Amazon

🌟What’s Next!


 

🌟 “Late Reviews”

Keep calm and just say noI am still hearing about some people receiving pressure from Sellers or admins to finish reviews that you were holding off on. Keep Calm And Just Say No! It will in all probability be taken down by Amazon anyway and you could lose your account. Anything published after the 4th (I believe that is the date, they supposedly gave one day for the policy to go into effect) is subject to the new policy and if you didn’t use your own money to buy it, don’t review it. Let anyone that is pressuring you know that it is against Amazon policy and offer them an alternative posting on one of your social media accounts. If they are still adamant, I would consider reporting them.

If you did post a review after that date for anything that involved any type of agreement, I would delete it. That is my personal opinion only, I have no facts to back that up. I know I have always said in the past not to delete any reviews, but the rules have changed now.

As far as I am concerned, and the consensus among people that I trust, is that the dust has settled and it is time to move on from posting reviews involving anyone else at all, on Amazon. If you haven’t read my post Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews I really encourage you to. If you have read it, you should take a look at some of the Comments people have left.

I always love reading Comments, they are the favorite part of my blog. The additional information, corrections, questions, and insightful thoughts really make for great reading. We have had some really great participation the last 2 weeks, it seems to help when I write a post, lol. I love the interaction with you all, your thoughts and opinions, just learning more about you. Thank you!

🌟 ARAT

keep-calm-and-download-a-copy-of-your-reviews-with-aratIf you still haven’t backed up your Amazon reviews using ARAT, do it now. How To Back Up Your Amazon Reviews Using ARAT  It doesn’t take that long to get a copy of your reviews and you never know when they might come in handy! You have worked hard and you should always keep a copy of your work. Who knows, save it and in 20 years publish it as a “Remember When” funny commentary about products we used in the early part of the century! If you only have an iPhone or Mac and don’t have access to Windows, which is required by ARAT, contact me I will make a copy of your reviews for you. I do not require your Amazon password to do this.

🌟 Blogging

keep-calm-and-enjoy-blogging-5If you are planning on starting a blog and have a copy of all of your reviews from Amazon, courtesy of ARAT or your own foresight, you have ready made content! Just because they are still on Amazon today, doesn’t mean they will be there tomorrow. Remember, Amazon is sifting through the reviews with their new algorithm removing content if the Reviewer was excessive or did not follow policy. Amazon Removing Some Reviews

Even if you already blog, you might be like me and only have a small percentage of your reviews on your blog. Having more reviews on your blog is a great way to showcase your work to potential sponsors (Sellers who either give you products or money in exchange for a potential review or endorsement.)

If you need to start a blog I recommend WordPress. You can get a free account and they even have free templates. They have a great Support Forum too. I can post some places for free tutorials for WordPress and I can offer some support to other WordPress users if you have a problem with your blog. There are other places to get free blogs but I don’t know as much about them, if anyone wants to recommend what you use, I would be happy to add it to this post.

If you are looking for a company for a self hosted blog, I use SiteGround and have been extremely happy with it. It is only $3.95 a month. If you already have a blog but want to move for some reason, you can get free site migration and up to 6 months of free hosting bonus added to your new account for unused time with your current host. (Please note, I do receive a referral bonus, but that is not the intent of this post.)

🌟 Social Media Reviews

keep-calm-and-review-on-social-mediaSocial media just keeps growing and growing and Sponsors are taking advantage of people like us who are usually micro-influencers! A micro-influencer can sometimes market products more effectively than an Influencer who has hundreds of thousands of followers and up. (Blogging is technically social media but for my purposes right now I am keeping it separate because it takes more effort to get started.) If you haven’t already, create your social media accounts and start to build up your network, your followers and friends. The number of people in your network is one of the things that Sponsors look at when choosing who to work with. I will share some tips on how to do this if you want, in the meantime I would recommend these as the most popular social media sites to be on: Facebook with a Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. For YouTube you need a Google+ account which you may have already if you use Gmail. Do you have to do all of them, of course not! Especially if you are new to any of them, go ahead and create your accounts but concentrate on 1 or 2 at a time or you may quickly become overwhelmed.

As you are creating your new accounts, or even if you have existing accounts, think about branding. First of all, do you want your personal and review accounts as the same account? Second of all, think about your name. If you have a blog, your social media accounts should reflect your blog name in some way. This can get tricky, especially if your blog name is long, not all social media accounts allow the same number of characters in your name. Some of the services will let you change your name, on others it is harder to do, so think about it first.

🌟 Other Opportunities

keep-calm-and-review-on-other-online-retailersMany other online retailers have successful review programs. There are a few FB groups that I know of that are already working with many retailers, if you know of any that are looking for additional members, please let us know! I will share a list once I have the admins approval. There are also a few websites I can think of that put you in contact with different brands. So if you just enjoy the ease of posting on one site, similar to what many people did on Amazon, those opportunities are out there.

🌟 Amazon

keep-calm-and-keep-reviewing-your-own-purchases-on-amazonReviewing on Amazon is not going away. You can still review books. I plan to still review what I purchase myself. I just enjoy writing and it makes me feel productive. We buy an awful lot of things on Amazon because I am home bound and need an easy way to shop. I know some people feel like Reviewers have been treated poorly by Amazon and I agree that there are things they could have done differently. They have a huge challenge ahead of them to now improve their Customer Service from top level management down, not just at the Help Desk level.

However, they are still the largest online marketplace and a great place to show off your ability to write a well-written review and/or your talent making videos in order to be found by Sellers looking for people to do posts on social media. Don’t forget, you can still pitch to Sellers on Amazon to do reviews on your blog or other social media accounts.

🌟 What’s next for this little blog that started out to help other people learn about Reviewing on Amazon??? Well, it has turned into much more than I planned and I really love it. At times my health gets in the way, but no worries, I always show back up!

keep-calm-and-remember-that-life-is-about-the-map-we-follow-and-the-treasures-we-find-along-the-wayIf there is interest in learning about social media reviewing, I would be happy to share what I know and research what I don’t. There are lots of other things now that I talk about on this site and maybe there isn’t enough interest in reviewing anymore. I plan to send out a survey to see what you all are interested in. so you will really have to let me know what you all enjoy, want, and need. I love still being able to help other people because I learn so much myself along the way.

👑 Coming up I have some inspirational quotes, coloring links to add, craft ideas for colorists, some boring health updates (that help my soul to share, thank you!), and some re-blogging of some really wonderful things from other incredible people I have been wanting to share!

💗 Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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


 

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Last week I promised you I would be asking some specific questions about reviewing to Amazon and then sharing with you what I learned.  

questions-and-answers-with-amazon-about-writing-reviews-frostedI addressed my email to Jeff Bezos himself so that I could be sure that whatever answer I received was carefully considered and not just from someone at the Help Desk who may or may not really understand what I was asking, much less what the right answers are. I wanted an answer from a top-level executive at Amazon that I could trust.

After receiving my email, Jeff asked Jennifer P. (why does no one who works at Amazon ever use their full last name?) to respond on his behalf. Jennifer, who works in Executive Customer Relations, responded right away and let me know that she would need some time so that she could work directly with the Communities team on my list of questions.

Here is the text of the letter I sent to Jeff.  You can see full screenshots of the email that I sent and the emails that I received in response by clicking here.



Dear Mr. Bezos,

There are multiple emails from executives at Amazon circulating among the Reviewer Community that seem to contradict one another. By going straight to the top, my expectation is that I will have the answers that are needed so that responsible reviewers will be in compliance with Amazon’s policies.  I can then help distribute this to other responsible reviewers to share with as many other people as possible.
 
I am going to try and keep this cut and dried so that nothing is left to interpretation. All of these can be answered with a Yes or No.
 
1. Are hobbyist Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they use the services of a website, Facebook group, email group, or other organizations to come in contact with Sellers who are offering products at a lower than advertised price, as long as the TOS or rules of the business state that there is no expectation of a review in exchange for the product? 
 
1a. Once they receive the product and test it, are they going against Amazon policy to write a review?
 
2. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they accept a gift that is shipped directly from the seller, and then write a review for that gift, as long as there is no expectation of a review?
 
2a. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy, in the same situation as above, except that the gift is shipped via Amazon? 
 
3. Are Reviewers allowed to use gift cards supplied by a Seller to order products if they are for the full price of the item and nothing more, or are only promotional codes allowed to be used? 
 
3a. Just to verify, a gift card ends in 4 digits and a promotional code in 6 digits correct? 
 
4. Is a disclosure (disclaimer) required when you leave a review if it is written for a product you received at a lower price than what is currently advertised on Amazon if there was no expectation of a review when the product was offered?
 
4a. Does the disclosure have to stipulate whether it was free vs whether it was received at a discount, or is a general disclosure permissible? 
 
5. If no disclosure is required, isn’t that against FTC guidelines? 
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I know that if Reviewers have some concrete answers to these questions, you will find that every effort is made to follow the policy by the vast majority of people who write reviews. 
 
In the past, problems have gotten out of control because there was too much left open to interpretation. In fact, it would be wonderful that if a disclosure is required, you gave us a specific one to use. Just as the Vine Program is clearly identifiable by their badge and no disclosure is necessary, if hobbyist Reviewers had a common disclosure to use it would make things much easier for everyone. 
 
With My Sincerest Gratitude,
Lynn Marie White


As you can tell, I really took into consideration the questions I have read going around in all the different groups I belong to, questions anyone sent me, and things I read on message boards and forums.
I wanted everything to be very clear so nothing would be left to interpretation and no one could argue the facts. I really did try to  make it so specific that a Yes or No answer would be easy for Amazon to provide. Many of these executives are so used to speaking in legalese that perhaps they forget that for the average person, reading their TOS, Community Guidelines, or page about Promotional Content can leave some of us confused at times. I must say, they are getting better and I do think this last change in wording helps define our role more than it did previously. 

At times, change comes with chaos, though. There are so many emails from Amazon executives making the rounds that contradict one another, messages from the help desk that also contradict one another, and some that don’t even make sense. Maybe we should have a contest to see who has received the craziest answer to a recent question about reviewing from Amazon!

That chaos is only taking into consideration the written content from Amazon that I have seen. The rumor mill is out of control with all kinds of crazy speculation from Reviewers, Sellers, Admins, and website representatives too. I will caution you strongly to not believe everything you read and I hope that you have followed what I suggested when the news of the changes started making the rounds, Wait Until the Dust Settles! 

So what are the facts?


First email I received from Jennifer P. 

Hello Lynn,

I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your e­mail and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Thanks so much for sharing your questions regarding Amazon’s review policies ­­ we appreciate our reviewers wanting to be in compliance and I’m happy to answer your questions.

Lynn, because I want to ensure you’re provided the most accurate response to each of your questions, I’m collaborating directly with our Communities team and it’ll take a bit longer than usual. I truly appreciate your patience and I’ll have a thorough response by 4 PM PDT on Tuesday October 11, 2016.

You’ve been a valuable member of our Prime family for 5 years and we appreciate your patronage. I’ll be in touch Tuesday and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Second email I received from Jennifer:

Hello Lynn,

As you recall, I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. I appreciate your patience while I collaborated with our Communities team regarding your inquiry.

We updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program.

We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review, whether or not a review is expressly required. These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730

In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, promotional content is only allowed in limited circumstances, and must always be clearly and conspicuously disclosed as promotional content if not obvious from the context:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&…

Please note we do not have information in addition to what is already provided in our help pages and we’re not able to offer additional insight on these matters. We appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Thank you.
Amazon.com


 

blue transparent checkmarkThe fact is that unless you are in the Vine Program, do not write a review on Amazon for anything* that you have not purchased yourself with your own valid credit or debit card.  

I would recommend that you not even load up gift cards anymore and use those to make purchases, especially if you might write a review for the product. I know loading up gift cards can often entitle you to a credit, but now, your gift card purchase could result in a loss of your account privileges if you forget and write a review for something you ordered with it.

* There is one exception to this policy, if you are a bibliophile like myself, you will be happy to know that this does not apply to books. The following statement is from the Community Guidelines page. “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.” A disclosure is required to be in compliance with Amazon’s policy in regards to Promotional Content. 

I understand that there are people telling us that it is okay to write a review because no one has asked for a review. Here is what Amazon has said that addresses that statement:

“We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review,
whether or not a review is expressly required.
These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:”

I have been going through the multitude of emails I have received from websites and some of the groups that I have belonged to that ran promotions. I am sure you are getting them too. They are all saying that the rules have changed and they have changed with them. 

Many are changing their rules, guidelines, or TOS and saying that a review on Amazon is in no way required in order to receive a product promotional code through them. They are claiming that the choice is totally up to you whether you want to leave a review, and in fact, you won’t be breaking Amazon’s policy if you do leave a review. They are calling sellers and reviewers 2themselves shops and stores and you are now a shopper or some other similar term, anything but a Reviewer.

It is true that their rules have changed and they don’t require a review to get a code. You can go to Amazon and order the product, the code you get will work just like it did before. But if you write a review on Amazon, you are in breach of Amazon’s policy. I know some of you are thinking that there is no way that Amazon can track people who are doing this, there are so many Sellers and so many Reviewers that they will never be able to find out if you do,

My background is in software development and business management and I am telling you straight up that I know for a fact how easy it would be for Amazon to track this and wipe the Sellers and Reviewers who are participating in this type of activity, It is my opinion that the long periods between updates in rankings have not just been computer glitches or periods of time to just wipe groups of reviewers. They have used that time to upgrade their servers, work on their database structure, develop algorithms (software scripts that analyze data to do things like track Seller and Reviewer interactions, reviewing patterns, review content, Reviewer to Reviewer relationships, and anything else you can imagine), write and develop new software, test it all out, and assuredly have it up and running by now.

Amazon has already let us know that some of our reviews will be deleted retroactively if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy. You can read about that here in my post, Amazon Removing Some Reviews.  I really believe that the operative phrase there is “if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy.” I do not think they will remove every single review all of us ever wrote in exchange for a promotional code. As long as both the Reviewer and Seller were in compliance when it was written, it should not be deleted. I know many people didn’t think about what a Seller might be up to and were just concerned about being in compliance themselves. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and it has been and always will be a symbiotic relationship, remember the article about Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests where I talked about how working with someone who did these types of things put your account in jeopardy, even if you didn’t do the special request but did a review for them. It is too bad that at times we weren’t aware of some of the tactics Sellers used or the ones to avoid.

So, do we all stop writing Amazon reviews? No, if you really enjoy writing reviews there is no reason to stop, as long as you write the review for something that you paid for yourself. In fact, there are many reasons to keep writing reviews on Amazon, one of the most important reasons being your ranking. Having a solid ranking is still a great way for Sellers to discover you. I will share more about the other benefits of continuing to write reviews on Amazon later, this post is long enough as it is!

Promotions and free products are not going to go away. They have always been a successful way of marketing, especially for new products. In the future, I will be writing more about other social media reviewing and how to market yourself to Sellers differently now. 

Looking at the facts that Amazon provided, do you agree? Even here on my blog, I urge everyone to look at the facts. I always try to show some evidence if I am saying that things should be done a certain way or in explaining what something means. I can be wrong just as well as the next person, so don’t feel shy about speaking up if you disagree. None of us can learn if we don’t share our knowledge and beliefs with others and be open to discussion about those differences.

I am looking forward to this next stage of development and feel more confident knowing whether I am doing the right thing when it comes to writing reviews on Amazon. The uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of Amazon’s former TOS can be put to rest and we can move forward together. Even those unfortunate Reviewers who were actually honest and good at what they did, but lost their accounts, have huge opportunities moving forward.

Those reviewers who took advantage of the system are out of luck. A  Seller won’t be giving anything to someone who does nothing valid to promote their product.  On Amazon, some Sellers put up with it because perceived sells, the number of positive reviews, and many other metrics improved their Amazon ranking.  Social media reviewing is a whole other game, you need to know what you are doing and not just be a number to the Seller.

if-it-looks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-a-duck-then-it-is-probably-a-duck


Thoughts? I would love to hear what you think about this post and how Amazon responded. Do you agree with my conclusion? Do you disagree, if so, why? I love hearing from you all, it is the most important reason I do my blog so let’s hear from you!

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

We have a new map going forward with Amazon and Reviewing in general. You all are the treasures I have found along the way!


Amazon Removing Some Reviews

Amazon Removing Some Reviews

If you are a Reviewer on Amazon, some of your reviews may be removed. The key word here is may. Make sure you read until the end of the post to find out how to tell if any of your reviews have been removed and one way to save a copy of your reviews if you don’t already have one.

 

Yesterday Amazon sent out a copy of this email to all Reviewers.

amazonemail-we-may-remove reviews

Please read this carefully. It says that reviews are being retroactively removed if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy. If you followed policy before, you should not be affected too much, if not at all.  What is excessive? Of course, we do not know what they believe excessive is. If you are submitting more than 100 a month, that is probably excessive, but that is only my opinion. What was the policy they will probably be looking for? Having the correct disclosure displayed prominently on all of your reviews.

There is one other thing that may have been out of your control and could have gotten you wiped before now or will affect whether some of your reviews are removed.  Remember, you are not in this alone. Think about who you got the product from and what Amazon is also looking for when it comes to Sellers.  There are many Sellers who are losing their accounts too now. If a Seller loses their account, all of their product listings are taken down and so that means that your review is also removed. I know I have mentioned in several different posts about working with Sellers that you know do things that are against Seller TOS. Even if you don’t do their special request but do a review for them, Amazon only sees the data relationship between you.  They aren’t going to go to each Reviewer and ask you if they fulfilled a request for something special. They are just going to wipe those reviews that are associated with that Seller and product.

Remember, your disclosure has to have said if it was for free or if it was a discounted item. Having a general disclosure was not acceptable. An example of a general disclosure is: I received this as a promotional item. I received this for free or at a discount. I received this in exchange for the sample. The words free or discount(ed) had to be in the disclosure according to Amazon. For the full article about Disclosures, please click here. 

free-vs-discount-product-for-review-amazon-tos-changes

How will you know what Amazon deletes, if they delete any of yours? If you have not been keeping copies of your reviews or at know how many reviews you have written, now is the time to take notice. You can find the number of reviews you have written by looking at your Public Reviews Written By You page on Amazon. You have to be signed in to see this page. If the link is not working for you, you can get to it by going to Your Account and scrolling down to the bottom to Personalization. 

I use ARAT to keep track of my reviews, I will get a quick tutorial together on this asap for anyone interested. The directions the developer has written up are actually very good.  In the meantime, you can download it here: ARAT kghodgessoftware  It is a great analysis tool that not only lets you keep track of the reviews you have written, but run various reports on your reviews. You can also print copies of your reviews from ARAT.

keep-calm-and-dont-write-reviews-until-the-dust-settles
For now, I recommend you to take a break and relax. Do not do anything. At this point, we need to set back and see what happens in the next few days. I know some people and groups are urging you to write your reviews with no disclosure (or disclaimer as it is sometimes called). It is against the law to write a review without a disclosure according to the FTC. The FTC trumps Amazon. The fines can be very high if you are caught doing this. Even if you are writing short reviews on social media, they need a disclosure. 


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


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 Amazon.com 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


Amazon TOS :: No More Reviews in Exchange for Samples

Amazon TOS :: No More Reviews in Exchange for Samples

Amazon has once again changed their TOS. If you currently write product reviews in exchange for free or discounted products, the rules have changed and we will no longer be allowed to do this on Amazon. You can certainly still publish your reviews on other outlets, but it seems like the average reviewer will be out of luck when it comes to finding products to review.

If you have huge followings on social media sites, you may still have many opportunities available and it is not too late to build up those social media accounts if you would still like to review products.

If you enjoy reviewing books, you may still receive an advance copy, but they can not ask you to write a review. The Amazon Vine program is also not going away.

I see more emphasis being placed on their new badges of Enthusiasts but who knows where that will go. Encouraging people to ask and answer questions about products is not the way to go in my opinion. How many times have you read 6 answers to one question that all tell you the exact same thing or someone who answers that “they don’t know” to every question posted!

For myself, I am going to hang back and see where this leads. My blog gets pretty good traffic at times so I may still have the opportunity to publish reviews here. I have several commitments to finish in the meantime also.

Even without reviews, my blog won’t be going away. 🙂


Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

I have just read that Amazon has changed their Customer Review Creation Guidelines once again. Last month we saw them make an addition to their TOS (Terms of Service) requiring anyone that wanted to leave a review for a product must first have spent a total of  $5.00 on Amazon using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts wouldn’t go towards that minimum.

Today, that $5.00 change has been increased to a minimum of $50.00 total worth of purchases on a valid credit or debit card in order to be able to write a product review.

Amazon TOS changes

This link will take you to the complete Customer Creation Guidelines.

Up to that point, anyone who wanted to could write a product review. There have been 3 sets of lawsuits filed in the past year against companies and individuals that were paying for reviews or that used tactics on their product promotion websites that were against Amazon TOS.

Do you think the increase to $50.00 is warranted? It is steep but it will certainly curb the huge number of fake profiles being created in order to write reviews in exchange for money. Many Reviewers may feel this is targeted at the Reviewer Community but I see it as targeting unscrupulous Sellers who will try anything to manipulate their ranking.

As a reminder, any special Seller requests are against Amazon TOS.  Even if you refuse to do the request but receive a product from that Seller, your account is still in jeopardy.  When a Seller loses their account, Amazon is more than likely to also wipe all known Reviewers who have worked with them. Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests are manipulation, plain and simple. This includes asking you to write and/or answer questions on a product listing. Amazon is not going to stop and ask who has participated in these things for certain Sellers, they are just going to wipe all of the Reviewers who are associated with them through writing reviews. Please, if a Seller asks you to do anything special, don’t do it. Let them know that what they are asking is against Amazon TOS, they may not know. If it is obvious they do know, report them.

What do you think? Leave a Comment below, would love to hear from you!


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


Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction

Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction


They changed what??? They are making us do what??? No!!! Really??? Who did you hear that from??? They are out to get rid of us!!! How can they do this??? This can’t be legal!!! I’m sure it is because of the …. Do you think that…….

Amazon TOS ChangesThere are currently so many rumors flying around about Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines. Even though they changed them almost two weeks ago, people are still talking about it and still don’t  understand what changed and how it affects them. I know it can be scary and very confusing at times. What do you believe? Who do you believe? Where do I go for information? Those are all questions that have gone through my mind so many times since I have become a Reviewer.

As if changes to the TOS weren’t enough, around that same timeframe, Amazon wiped another large group of Reviewers again. Many people have claimed that Amazon wiped their account unfairly after they secretly changed their Guidelines, enforcing rules that were not in place when their reviews were written. I won’t address that rumor in this post, but of course, I have some thoughts to share about it later this week….

I have even read where people are going to quit reviewing because Amazon is continually changing the rules and there are no guidelines for a Reviewer to follow. People are unfairly losing their accounts and no explanations are given. Some people think that  Amazon should be sued because they have treated the community so unfairly.

After I heard another rumor that Amazon rewrote the complete Customer Review Creation Guidelines, I knew I needed to read them for myself and see what had changed so drastically. I wanted to know what I should be concerned about the most. So I read them and reread them. Then read them again. To tell you the truth, after reading them I had no idea what people were so upset about. They seemed basically the same to me except for one point. The $5.00 point. We’ll get to the answer to that question, but let’s look at the old and new Guidelines themselves for a minute.

I couldn’t recall exactly what the Amazon’s Review Guidelines said previously, but I knew one place I could find out… What Amazon TOS Really Says, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Ani Ruhama wrote this article back in late January and copied the text exactly from Amazon’s website. Let’s look at this side by side comparison I made. I had decided not to depend on some of the graphics I saw last week where people had compiled a ‘TOS” from bits and pieces they remembered, points they had written down, and partial screenshots. Thank goodness, I didn’t use those for my comparison!

Customer Review Creation Guidelines
Then and Now


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The Promotional Review section and the Paid Reviews section are exactly the same between the two versions except for some formatting changes.

The first section has changed. To post a review, customers must spend at least $5.00 using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $5.00 minimum. What does that mean and is it fair for Amazon to change the rules?

What this does not mean is that you can only write a review if you paid at least $5.00 for the product. What it does mean is that at some time during the life of your Amazon account, you must have spent $5.00 on their website.

  • This is lifetime (of your Amazon account) total of $5.00.
  • The $5.00 can not include what you paid for your Prime Subscription.
  • The $5.00, or any portion of it, can not come from the purchase of a product that was offered at a promotional discount.
  • The $5.00 has to be paid with a valid credit or debit card. You can’t use a gift card you purchased yourself, or one someone else gave to you, to meet this $5.00 minimum.

Am I sure about this? Yes!

I was sure that I understood the new stipulation but there are always people (like me) who want to see the proof with their own eyes. Do not assume anything with Amazon. I was just getting ready to write to them for clarification when I opened an email from Rachel Michelle, Director of Relations at Launchzon.com. They are the sister site to a new review website that I just joined, Ratezon.com. Rachel knew that the Sellers, as well as Reviewers, were concerned about all of the rumors swirling around so she contacted Amazon herself and had just received confirmation of what the “$5.00” stipulation actually means. Here is the actual email response she received from Amazon.

amazonconfimation

Click here if you would like to be able to read the text of the message in an easier format.

 

thank youThank you, Rachel, for sharing your clarification email with us. If there are any quality, experienced reviewers looking for a new site, Ratezon.com has recently launched and is now accepting applicants! Head on over and sign up if you are interested. They are really on top of TOS and want to make sure that Sellers and Reviewers have the support they need.

Now, on to the question as to if this is fair? I think so. Requiring you to spend $5.00 on their site is not that big of a deal. Anyone who just goes there to order things they are going to review at very little to no cost is missing out on a lot of really great deals and quality products. I love to review things and get great deals but our family also purchases a lot of other things on Amazon. Purchasing and then reviewing those things too is also a good way to keep your account well rounded. What is a well-rounded account? More on that next week…..

great dealsThere are several people you all may know, L.j. Redding among them, who regularly post great deals. She has a page on FB, Pelican Freak Frugal Finds that always has great deals, not to mention free eBooks! If you are reading this and have a page with great deals at Amazon, let me know and I will add it to the list.

$5.00 is nothing compared to the benefits we receive as Reviewers. It is not like you are giving them the money like a membership fee and you aren’t receiving anything in return. You can purchase whatever you want with it. There must be a very large number of people who write reviews and never even purchase anything themselves from the site or they would not have put this in place. What can you do if you are one of those people? Go spend some of your own money on Amazon!

Is it legal that Amazon changed their TOS?  They are not breaking any government or state rules and/or regulations by any of the changes they have made. It is their company and they make the rules. They create the rules, enforce the rules, and answer to no one. I have talked about this a lot before, they write their guidelines and policies to be very broad and vague so that they can interpret them how they want to. Once you submit your review you agree to give up all rights to the content, both written and media. You actually agree to abide by all of their TOS when you sign up for an account.

Did they do this so that they could wipe more Reviewers? I really doubt it. There have been a lot of changes lately, not just to Reviewers, but to Sellers and regular consumers also.  I am sure there are many changes that we are not even aware of yet. Let’s face it, they could have wiped every single reviewer if they wanted to without even having to change their TOS. That is not the reason they changed the Guidelines.

why do they get wipedThe review system began as a marketing ploy created so that they could jump ahead of their competition by having the first online store where customers contributed reviews, both good and bad, on a very large scale. It helped make Amazon who they are today. People knew they could go to Amazon and read reviews written by other people just like them.

However, both Sellers and Reviewers have taken advantage of the system. The fact that Amazon is purposely vague and doesn’t have enough real structure in their guidelines has come back to haunt them. That is the reason people get their accounts wiped. There are no real guidelines and with no real direction built in, the system has become flawed. Amazon’s reputation has suffered and Reviewers are not seen in the best light either.

So why did so many people just get wiped again? There are so many reasons why people get wiped and most of them will never know why, unless they knew they were doing something wrong and took the risk. I certainly feel sorry that so many people have lost all of their hard work and effort. I never want to minimalize that. It could happen to any of us.

I do have some other things I have heard about recently and things I read while researching this article that I will share more about later, but I am going off topic now. Those accounts being wiped do not have anything to do with the recent changes to Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines.

question marksWill all reviewers be wiped? Is the review system going to away? No. It would be an extremely disastrous business decision for them to wipe all reviews ever done, or even just the ones that were done by Reviewers. For the same reason, the system is not going to go away. Remember, the review system is what made Amazon into the largest online retailer. For them to have to publicly denounce and then do away with what made them who they are would be shooting themselves not only in the foot but In the head.

If Amazon has carte blanche to do whatever they want anyway, why bother to make any changes in the TOS at this point?  Changes in the Customer Review Creation Guidelines are actually a good sign. Amazon is moving forward with changes to the way Customer Reviews should be done. This seems to be part of the needed framework.

change is goodThe constant suspensions of updating rankings and blocking API access is a sure sign to me that they are working on their internal database structure which is what supports the algorithm they use to monitor transactions, especially transactions between Reviewers and Sellers. Until they have made all of the needed changes and are sure their database structure will support what they want to implement, they will probably go forward with minor changes like this instead of a major announcement and then implementation of how they plan to reinvent their once best-in-class system.



Amazon Customer Review Creation Guidelines TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction
Most of what I have heard is FICTION (thankfully)
I hope I have cleared up the question about what the $5.00 stipulation means.

To keep your account as safe as possible, whatever you do, don’t forget to put your Disclosure in your review and don’t participate in Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, or other Special Seller Requests.

Do you have other questions about the recent changes?
What other things have you heard?
Do you have questions about the email from Amazon?

You know I always love to hear from other Reviewers or interested parties, please leave a comment letting me know what you think of the recent change, Amazon TOS in general, Customer Review Creation Guidelines, a question about reviewing, or anything else you would like to comment on.


Disclosure: I don’t pretend to know all of the answers and my opinion does have a tendency to come through very strongly in my posts, but I do state all of the facts that I know and make every effort possible to share with you the correct information. I am always very open to hearing opposing viewpoints. If we don’t share what we have learned with each other, none of us will ever make it as a Reviewer.

Reviewer Community Questions to AMZ Review Trader

Reviewer Community Questions to AMZ Review Trader


fancy questiosnThe last few months I have been gathering questions from the user community for AMZ Review Trader and working with them to help resolve some of the issues we experience.  I was very happy when they took the time to answer all of our questions and comments in my first user community questions email to them, which I shared in my post Do you have questions about AMZ RT 2.0???

In their blog post this morning, Your Reviewer Questions Answered! it was great to see that once again they have taken your questions seriously and are addressing them. I think it is a step in the right direction for them to take this upon themselves and my hope is that they continue to respond to the user community in this manner.

I am sure countless AMZ Review Trader members submit questions but their post this morning is so similar to what I submitted to them that I see it as a direct answer to many of the questions you shared.

I was actually starting to worry a little that they would not respond, beyond telling me that they were working on the list of questions I had sent and would get back to me. I hope that they will address the rest of the questions I have submitted on behalf of you in the next week or so and that in the future they are more responsive to questions people post on their FB page and blog.

I wanted to share the last email with you so that you do know that I have taken your questions and concerns seriously and am looking forward to the answers myself, but we will probably have to watch their blog for the answers instead of me hearing from them personally and then being able to share that with you and then continue the process..

blue checkmarkA blog post from them will actually reach many more members than a post from my blog and my purpose has always been to help people that are going through the same things that I am so this is actually good news and as long as they respond, this will be much more efficient than the way we have found answers in the past.



User Community Questions Submitted in February

Hello Nav A and to whoever else is reading this email.  If you are not Nav, could you be so kind to forward this to Nav or anyone else who may be able to continue this discussion concerning 2.0 and RT in general, I would greatly appreciate it.

I do have some follow-up questions that I have compiled for you from the FB groups and from my original blog post.

1. You stated: We can boost those reviewers to the next tier especially the ones who do great video reviews and are top reviewers.
How does a reviewer request that someone consider their account for a boost?
Is this just for video reviewers?
Can quality photographers who include more than one or two images request this also?
What about someone who’s word count is above and beyond what you consider A+?

2. Leave Product Review Button: When you click this button on the Dashboard, why can’t you link directly to the product so that we don’t have to search? Just like you do for the link when we click to purchase the product.

3. Seller Feedback Button: Same issue here, how come it doesn’t link directly to the Seller for that product.

4. Word Count: How many of our last recent reviews is this based off of and is it still off of all of our Amazon reviews like you stated in your last email to me? I thought I read in Self Help that is is based on only AMZ RT reviews so I am a little confused about this.

5. Confirmed Reviews: How come you are only counting AMZ RT Reviews here whereas in other metrics you are counting all Amazon reviews completed?

6. Metrics: When will your systems have all of our reviews counted and our word counts accurate? I know you are probably chasing a running target here. What is taking so long to get caught up? Human Resources? Computer Systems? Capital Funds? Restrictions from Amazon? I am sure you did not expect to have these problems and delays. (I have deleted some parts of the email here that were just theorizing about technology related issues)

I have noticed that in emails we get, it says things like if you have reviewed this item, please ignore this email. Were you not tracking that before? I think I read in something on Tracker that before there was no way for a review to be verified except by the Seller tracking their own reviews.  Is that correct?

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Issues with Sellers

1. Is there going to be an enforcement of Seller TOS that states that Sellers should not be involved in any kind of manipulation? This includes keyword searches, wishlisting, and requiring us to ask questions along with our review. A Seller should only ever request that a reviewer leaves an honest and unbiased review. I recently wrote an article on my blog about this that goes more in depth and includes screenshots from Seller Executive Relations and Amazon Seller Support. Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and other Seller Requests  No one knows exactly why so many accounts are being wiped lately but we all know that the data between a Seller and Reviewer is easy to link. Sellers should not be breaking these rules in the first place, putting their accounts at risk and thus potentially ours since we all follow under the general Amazon TOS. Often you don’t know until you are accepted whether or not the Seller has these conditions. A Reviewer could report the seller at that time, but the seller should never have been able to do that in the first place and there seems to be no one stopping them from doing this over and over. It is hard enough to interpret the Reviewer TOS but now we have to try and understand the Seller TOS as well. It would be great if AMZ RT would enforce this up front with the Sellers.

Do you agree that this is manipulation?

2. AMZ RT’s Role in Seller TOS Violations: There has also been a lot of discussions lately about AMZ RT letting Sellers continue to violate Amazon’s TOS. Reviewers are concerned it is putting a lot of scrutiny from Amazon on them. I have read many posts about whether people should continue to use your site and I have received even more private messages about this. Every website strives to follow Amazon’s TOS and I have every confidence you are not letting this just slide.

What actions are you taking to combat this? Many websites, not to mention FB groups, have publicly stated they will no longer participate in seller manipulation activities and have stopped doing that. Will this be something you make an announcement about soon?

How are your Sellers educated on Seller TOS? Is it their responsibility? I have been reading more and more on AMZ Tracker and there are several things that are questionable things that they are teaching their Sellers. I know that Tracker is not Trader, but it is the same parent company.

2. Sellers Who are Habitual Offenders: I know we are able to use the Report a Problem with a Seller but it seems like the same Sellers are the ones being reported over and over. There are endless reports of Sellers doing the same thing to multiple Reviewers over and over again. Not only during the same promotion but in promotion after promotion that they list. Some are notorious for having codes that don’t work. I know you teach them how to create codes in your AMZ Tracker course, how come they have so many problems with it? We also encounter Sellers who change the prices of their items all of the time or “run out of codes.” Just today I saw a letter from a Seller stating they had 50,000 reviewers apply for their product. Since it was so in demand, they decided to raise the price and just send everyone a 50% off code instead of giving it to those that were approved for Free. I have attached a screenshot of that letter.

3. Confidentiality: Some users have seen a correlation to some recent Sellers and the amount of spam mail they have started receiving. It seems all of these Sellers have listed products on AMZ RT, but no codes are ever given. I did not think that they had access to our emails, has this changed After we apply for a promotion, are they able to our email address then? Over the last 2 weeks, this seems to have really increased.

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Recommendations

1. The product listing on AMZ RT, sellers should list any special requests and the number of codes they have available. That way, if Sellers are going to continue to disregard Amazon’s TOS and your TOS, we can, at least, avoid them and help spread the word to new Reviewers. Seller Dashboard: It was so helpful for you to list what sellers can see in their Dashboard. I see that you provide a direct link to our profile but they would have to go to your profile to see our current Rank correct? Would you consider showing our rank right before our profile link? That would be very helpful to both the Sellers and to the Reviewers who are working hard to continually improve their rank.

2. User Emails and Feedback on FB page: I see so many complaints from people that you do not reply back to them or answer their questions on FB. I explain that everyone should consult the Self Service area first and then the correct way to contact you through email with the word DESK in the subject line. Users who continually use this as their first avenue of support do not realize that they area clogging up the system, making it that much harder to for you to get to the real problems.

How come you don’t send out email updates with feature releases or other educational materials to users? Usually, when there is a major software release by large companies, users are notified of the changes and any new changes explained. How come this isn’t done? It would be so helpful even to pick a section from your Help Section once a week and email that to users so people who refuse to go through there will have a glance at it and start to understand how valuable it is.

What other improvements and/or features have you added since the initial 2.0 release? What about your next major release. I know you have told me before that you do not have plans for an Android app, have you changed your mind at all on that?

Is there anything else that you would like to share about at this time?

Thank You!
Lynn Marie White


Here  is a copy of their last reply to me, the second email that I got stating they were working on it and would get back to me.  

AMZ Review Trader response to user questions



Remember, life is about the map we follow
and the treasures we find along the way. 



Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and Seller Requests + Special Valentine’s Day Treat

Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and Seller Requests + Special Valentine’s Day Treat


As a product reviewer, what do you need to know about Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and other Seller Requests?

Where does all of this fit into Amazon’s TOS (Terms of Service)?  

Even if you have been following this discussion in any of  my usual hangouts, I hope you take a few minutes to read my new article Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and other Seller Requests.
TOS Blue
I have a few more additional thoughts on the subject, imagine that! As always, feedback is welcome, both positive and constructive.

For those of you who have wondered if it is okay to do this, I hope I have given you enough information so that you can make your own decision.  Of course, I hope you agree with my thoughts on this but there are those who still disagree.  I am always willing to discuss this further. If you have questions or comments, please leave them on the page in a Reply. Thanks!



valentines day scroll heart

I have a special treat for all of you as a thank you for following my blog and other social media accounts. I appreciate your comments and questions, keep them coming! Most of all I appreciate those of you who have encouraged and inspired me in my endeavors.  Be sure to check back on Valentines Day for all of the information, it involves 3 GIVEAWAYS that have something to do with (though not exactly) the image below. I also have compiled a great list of free downloadables and printables that would be perfect to go with one of these great prizes that are being sponsored by the lovely ladies of CulaLuva!
color my life

 

flowers gels pens forest gel pens trees blue sky flower gel pesn mandala gel pens

 

As always, thanks for coming by!  I hope you take something away with you from the article this week so that you can make your own informed decision regarding Seller Requests that are required for you to complete as part of your bad luck Amazon statistician analyst buttonreview process.  I wish I had all of the answers for you, but hopefully, this will bring you one step closer to the goal of keeping your Review Account TOS Compliant, safe from the data warehouse algorithms and out of the spotlight of the seemingly arbitrary Amazon “analyst.”

Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and other Seller Requests

 



Life is about the path that we follow and the treasures we find along with way. 



Writing Disclaimers & Easy Contest to win a $10.00 GC to Amazon

Writing Disclaimers & Easy Contest to win a $10.00 GC to Amazon

Disclaimers are the second most important thing you need to make sure you are doing right as a reviewer.  

 

disclaimer with magnifying glassThis morning a friend and I were discussing disclaimers, then right afterward I saw a post in a great new FB group that I have recently been invited to about the same subject.  A follower of my blog has also posted some interesting questions, one of which was about disclaimers.  So I realized I need to get back into gear and start sharing the gems of information I have learned about reviewing, especially about disclaimers.

To read the whole article about Disclaimers and to enter my very first contest, please click here: Disclaimers? Disclaimers! Disclaimers?  Also, there is a contest on this page.  LOL, yep, you have to come read the article to find out what the contest is.  It’s very easy and you could win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card.

10 AMZ GC

Thanks,
Lynn Marie White

Missing Reviews? Affiliate Links?

Missing Reviews? Affiliate Links?
Missing Reviews? Affiliate Links?

I just read a very interesting post in the Top Reviewers forum on Amazon. Have you been missing some reviews you wrote on Amazon?  Have all of your reviews been deleted? Reviews deleted by Amazon? Here’s why by Maine Colonel

I completely agree with the good Colonel.  Vendors are manipulating the system but so are the people out there who call themselves Reviewers but are only interested in freebies.

As a serious Reviewer though, the most interesting part was about bloggers.  I had never thought of this before but I think it is something bloggers should be aware of.   “Some people post reviews on Amazon and then link to the review on a blog. If someone clicks through to Amazon from the blog review and buys the product, the blogger has it set up so that they receive affiliate pay from Amazon. Reviews like this are also being removed by Amazon, because its terms for reviewers do not allow reviewers to receive any payment for a review other than a free copy of the product.”



What are your thoughts on this?  Do your reviews link back to Amazon? Would love to have some feedback from the blogger community. 



 

A Treasure Chest of Serendipity

A Treasure Chest of Serendipity


Serendipity 2

Serendipity… the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something truly wonderful, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.

 



As I have jumped into the Reviewing community feet first, it has felt so good to connect with people again. That is something I have really missed in the years since I have no longer been able to work.  As it became more and more necessary to spend most of my time in bed, I cut myself off from the friends and colleagues I did have, trying to deal with the grief I still continue to feel over losing my independence and developing some really complicated health problems.

That is something I have really missed in the years since I have no longer been able to work.  As it became more and more necessary to spend most of my time in bed, I cut myself off from the friends and colleagues I did have, trying to deal with the grief I still continue to feel over losing my independence and developing some really complicated health problems.

I hope as a reader of this blog you are able to experience Serendipity and not only discovered wonderful things about shared interests, but also things about yourself, that you didn’t even know you were looking for.



At first, I thought I would only share about my reviews with you and show how you can do reviews yourself.  But then it occurred to me that just reviews can be very boring at times.  I like to get to know other people and so I hope you do too.  In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more about what is going on in my life right now and my current health, but more importantly, sharing the jewels of inspiration I have been finding as I rediscover my life.

Please keep checking back, I never expected to have so many new friends and followers and am looking forward to sharing this journey called life.  



Topics I would like to share include:  Inspiration, Family Dynamics, Aspergers Syndrome, Adoption, Grandfamilies, Friendship, Essential Oils, Recipes, DIY,
Health (Dysautonomia, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Hypoxia, CFS/ME)
and of course, more about my favorite new activity Product Reviews!