Tag Archives: Seller

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:


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:


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.


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.


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!

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.



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.