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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…….
There 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.
Thank 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…..
There 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.
The 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.
Will 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.
The 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.