Attention U.S reviewers:
Can I as a U.S reviewer still review on Amazon ? Effective as from Monday the 3rd October 2016, Amazon.com no longer allows sellers to give out products for free or at a discount in exchange for reviews. Sellers can still give out items for free or at a discounted price, but they may not ask for a review on Amazon in return. Reviews may still be posted on a reviewer’s blog or social networks, but leaving reviews on Amazon for any product got on a discount of any percentage and not open fully to the public, may not receive a review on the Amazon site. Despite what many review groups are saying, you must never leave a review on Amazon for an item you got at a discounted price not available to the public, whether or not you were asked to by the seller. If you do take this chance you risk your reviewing privileges and having your reviewing account wiped. The seller could also lose their Amazon store if found to be allowing this to happen.
At this moment in time, this only applies to Amazon.com. The TOS hasn’t been updated for any other countries yet, which means reviewers in places like the U.K, France etc… can all still review items given away at a discount or for free in return for a review on their countries Amazon site. There’s no word on when other countries will see this happening, but the chances it will happen are 99.9%. I’ll be sure to update this page when it does.
Quite recently a lot of reviewers on Amazon have had their accounts wiped, this means they lose all of their reviews and their review privileges. It’s possible to appeal this if it should happen to you, but it’s very rare from what I have seen recently that many people are successful in their appeals. There are many reasons you could get your review account wiped. Since Amazon is a huge business with millions of active users, it would be impossible for a few employees to sit down and catch people out, so instead they rely on a virtual system to monitor people for certain activities. This list will show you, what you MUST and MUST NOT do to stay in the good books of Amazon. As this is a virtual system it does make mistakes and if Amazon believes the system has made a mistake they will likely re-instate your account.
Always be honest
I have put this as number one as it is quite important that as a reviewer you take your role seriously. You shouldn’t think or be led to think that receiving a product for free or at a cheaper price is the deal that seals a company four or five stars. If you truly don’t like a product enough, so you give it one star explain why you gave it one star, list any positives and negatives and the same goes for any of the ratings up to five stars. Remember you are giving your opinion on the product, not what the company wants you to say. Also, if a seller ask you to remove negative feedback, do not at all. You can, however, update feedback by increasing or decreasing a star in the future, for example, you may increase a few stars if a firmware update makes your phone better or decrease a few stars if a products quality is starting to show wear after little use.
Use a disclaimer
A big part of reviewing products for free or a discounted price is informing the readers of your review that you were sent a product in return for your review. Not only is this an important bit of information, it’s also a required bit of information and if you don’t notify people of you receiving a product for free or a discount in return for a review, you can either end up with that review deleted or your whole accounted suspended from reviews. I personally put the following at the end of every review ”I received this product for free (Or discount, write as required) in return for my honest and unbiased review. This has had no effect on my overall opinion of the product”. Also do note this must be written at the beginning or very end of the review. it must not be written in a manner where it looks like you have tried to sneak it in. For example, ‘This is an amazing hat, which I’m so happy to have been sent for free for a review, I just love it so much’. I’m not trying to scare anybody here, but just be wary that a select few people on Amazon, don’t like seeing this disclaimer and might leave snarky remarks or downvote you, however, it has to be there whenever you receive a product for free or a discount for a review.
Never review an item without testing or receiving it first
Of course, this sounds so obvious and that’s because it is, but, unfortunately, some people still like to think this is acceptable. I always leave at least three days or more to review items, if the item is something advance or that requires longer, I test it for a week and then review it. I don’t think I need to explain why you shouldn’t review an item you haven’t received yet.
Voting is a crucial part of the Amazon review system, it helps make a reviewer and even helps get them up or down in the rankings. However, too many people are knowingly or even unknowingly violating the voting system by voting on other reviews in a product listing they themselves are writing a review for. This is frowned upon by Amazon and can lead to a ban. You should also not downvote or upvote because a seller has asked you to, this is manipulating the system and again Amazon doesn’t take to lightly to this. You must also never ask for people to vote for your review either. This includes dropping hints such as ”Please let me know if my review was helpful by pressing the thumbs up button”.
In the world of Amazon reviews, the only thing you should get in return for a review is a single copy of the product only. No money can be exchanged to you in return and that means in the form of a cash transfer, an Amazon gift card or any other type of money exchange. The only thing a company can do is send you a promotional code that can knock off up to 100% for that product. A company can also send you the product directly without sending you a code at all. This also means you can’t ever sell the products you review. You can give them away to family or friends, but you mustn’t sell them at all.
Review items you buy personally
What I mean by this is mix it up a bit and review any items you personally purchase at full price. This isn’t something that will get you a ban definitely, but it certainly shows the Amazon system you are a real customer and aren’t just reviewing free items. So every so often buy something at full price and review it, even if it’s a piece of paper.
As a reviewer one thing you are going to want to do with remove any connection to Facebook or Twitter from your Amazon account, you don’t need it. The reason for this is rather unfortunate as it appears Amazon seem to be reading connected accounts and making connections between reviewers and companies. This can often lead to mistakes been made by Amazon, which ultimately could lead to a ban. To ensure your account isn’t connected to your social network accounts, simply go through the following, Your account> Personalisation (Community tab)> Your social settings. Once here you will see a box like the one below, if your account details are here such as your name and profile picture for each site, you need to disconnect the accounts, as you can see from mine I’m not connected at all.
Family and friends
If you live in a house with another reviewer, it’s important you don’t both review the same items from the same seller, this is a big no in Amazon’s books and is counted as manipulation. If you and one or multiple other people in your house review the same item you will likely find both of your reviews will be removed and should it carry on you will most likely lose your reviewing privileges. You should also be aware that reviewing products for a family member who sells on Amazon as a store is also forbidden and if the link is made that you and the seller are very close, you will either lose your reviewing privileges for that seller or lose them altogether.
Enjoy your reviewing
The last thing to do is simply to enjoy yourself and make the most of what you do as a reviewer. At times, it can be frustrating as you might find yourself overwhelmed with items, but just carry on and understand that your opinion is valued highly not only to customers but sellers too.