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Cheating with supply of review copies - the Amazon Verified Purchase scam


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Showing 126-150 of 197 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 3:35:14 AM PDT
With Amazon, nothing is ever that simple.

For example, "Reviews from the Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary." is not entirely accurate. I post all my Vine reviews here as well as in the UK, but I add the Vine disclosure myself. Amazon don't provide it because I am in UK Vine. The green banner appears only on my Vine reviews posted in the UK.

Also "Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package" as written there, is ambiguous. In real life, if I give somebody money to buy something rather than buying it myself and sending it to them, it still counts as a gift. Hence the earlier thread. It was only as a result of people asking further questions that Amazon clarified thus ..... (reproduced here word for word as posted on the other thread)

The only form of compensation (payment) that Amazon allow is a free copy of the product (provided up front) in exchange for an unbiased review. Refunding of a product or providing funds to purchase the product are considered compensation and not allowed.

.... and further clarification followed later in bits and pieces .... (this is my version but retains the essence of what else was said)

Minor involvement with the product such as graphic design or additional notes (for example, the booklet notes for a CD or the foreword for a book) also count as compensation, unless these services were provided free of charge. Being the recipient of a prize related to the product also counts as compensation.

..... and none of that stuff appeared in any of Amazon's guidelines at the time, and I don't suppose they've modified those guidelines to add the clarifications they sent by e-mail to those who requested it.

Another guideline that Amazon usually enforce in the USA is about reviewing the product. Amazon UK appear to be more relaxed on this although they have the same guidelines. Somebody wrote a 1-star review of a CD just because there wasn't a track listing. I complained but the review stays up. I don't think Amazon USA would have kept the review.

==============

Which all goes to explain why I don't ever take Amazon's guidelines at face value. It is necessary to learn which guidelines are rules, which are merely guidelines and (if possible) which might be rules or guidelines depending on whoever is at the other end making decisions.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 3:38:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2012 4:30:49 AM PDT
"If I haven't misunderstood, then I don't understand what all the fuss is about"

Your second point about the definition of a free review copy wasn't clear a few weeks ago, which is why there's all the fuss.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 3:52:27 AM PDT
Grandma says:
I think you've likely pointed up the difference. You are in the UK and UK law can be quite different from US law. Amazon has made things perfectly clear, at least as far as things go on this side of the pond, with the all-encompassing word "anything".

As far as the 1-star because of a missing track, I've written many a 1-star review and I am reasonably sure that Amazon would indeed have allowed the review to stay up. They **might** have taken it down for something like complaining about the shipping, but even those generally stay around.

Why would you complain, though, Peter? I don't get it . . . if you aren't the artist involved, what skin is it off your nose if somebody writes a one-star review?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 4:29:50 AM PDT
I am concerned about the integrity of the reviewing system. Misleading reviews of whatever rating mess up the system, especially where there are fewc reviews.

In any case, I posted my first review because a CD I liked had just one review - a one-star review. Twelve and a half years later, it still has only five reviews but it's long out of print. There is still only a solitary one-star review, along with three five-star reviews including mine, and a three-star review. But it was ages before I posted another review. I was a slow starter.

So yes, I don't like bogus reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 4:43:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2012 4:43:50 AM PDT
Grandma says:
I don't like bogus reviews either, but perhaps we disagree on our definition of bogus. To my mind, it is legitimate to complain that a CD doesn't have a listing of the tracks. I don't review CDs, but I have dinged many a Kindle cookbook for not having a functional table of contents. As a matter of fact, I will not give a Kindle cookbook that doesn't have a functional TOC anything higher than a 2-star review under any circumstances.

To you perhaps it isn't a problem that the CD didn't have a track listing, but obviously it was a big problem to the person who wrote the review, just as some people (mostly those who don't actually cook) might have no problem with a "cookbook" where you have to spend many minutes even finding a recipe. I, on the other hand, wouldn't put up with paging and paging and paging to try to find a recipe for a half-second, never mind pay for the privilege. People have different ideas of what is important to them.

I think that we might also disagree on what we think the purpose of a review is. To my mind, a review is for the benefit of the potential buyer, not the seller. Buyers are entitled to know things like the fact that a CD doesn't have a track listing or a cookbook has no way to find the recipes. It doesn't bother me in the least that a CD would have but five reviews and two of them are less than 5-star. In fact, those two are most likely the reviews that I would read and I certainly wouldn't consider it my look-see to make sure that an item had only positive reviews.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 5:45:02 AM PDT
We are having a discussion (on the MOA) about the Guidelines (which have been updated recently) and authors reviewing books in the same genre they write in.

Promotional content:
* Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
* Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
* Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
* Solicitations for helpful votes

New or revamped Gudelines:

Promotional content:

Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
Solicitations for helpful votes

So has this been changed to reflect the fact that authors, who are also customers can review all products including competitors books?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 6:41:53 AM PDT
Grandma says:
This has not changed - the words are identical, only the beginning * has been left out. And did you actually READ this - including the part where it says -

Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product ****or a directly competing product**** (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)

This is pretty clear that authors cannot review competitors books - which is a pretty cheap and cheesy thing to do anyway

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 6:52:35 AM PDT
But they have left out authors and artists. Do you think the reason for that is that authors are customers too and are allowed to post reviews?

This has become quite a hot topic on the MOA. Most of us thought it was against TOS for authors to review competitors books. Including myself (not an author just a reader). There are others that say the Guidelines are ambiguous and open to interpretation, ergo it is allowed.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 6:53:00 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 30, 2012 6:53:16 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 7:24:07 AM PDT
Grandma says:
The operative term is "directly competing product" - "including" only lists some examples.

Authors have always been allowed to post reviews as long as they are not posting reviews of a competing product, something from their own publisher and that sort of thing.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 7:36:06 AM PDT
Pete Morin says:
This doesn't address WHY Amazon would have removed "author" and "artist." Words are used or deleted for a reason.

I submit that a Cuisinart coffee maker directly competes with a Mr. Coffee brand, but Reed Farrel Coleman's crime novels do not "compete" with Nick Harkaway's.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 7:48:37 AM PDT
Grandma says:
Not everything has to have a reason PB. Maybe it got left out in copying and pasting.

I do understand what you are saying, but I've certainly seen cases of authors trying to savage another author's book. If it is such an issue, why not write to Amazon and ask for clarification?

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 7:51:05 AM PDT
Grandma says:
You might find this thread interesting -

http://www.amazon.com/forum/top%20reviewers/ref=cm_cd_et_up_redir?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2Z5LRXMSUDQH2&cdPage=1&cdThread=TxFALVPDRNWOR5&newContentID=MxJI38CWYYM2AE&newContentNum=3#MxMOQQY1TANK6E

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 10:55:48 AM PDT
I have to give a correction. Amazon did not change the guidelines -- yet, anyway. I am 100% sure of that after quoting the guidelines 100 times! The wording has always been different in the customer review guidelines reached from the create a review page vs. what is shown at Author Central under "Customer Reviews".

At Author Central, it has always said and still does say:

<<Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product) >>

So I hope this doesn't get turn into an urban legend.

https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?ie=UTF8&topicID=200649610

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 11:02:36 AM PDT
Oh ok. Sorry I must have thought I was C&Ping it from the same place.
Thanks LG

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 11:41:17 AM PDT
Pete Morin says:
Well then, that's clear as mud, isn't it???

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 12:00:12 PM PDT
Pete Morin says:
Sent to customer service:

Greetings:

We are having a spirited (and so far, respectful) discussion with regard to the customer review guidelines as they relate to a customer/author who wishes to review a novel that is in that customer/author's genre.

We note that the review guidelines for CUSTOMERS differ from those posted in AUTHOR CENTRAL relating to disallowed "promotional content," i.e., "Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)"

Some participants believe this language is intended to disallow an author from writing a review on a book in his genre. Other participants believe that one mystery novel is not a "directly competing product" of another in the same manner as, say coffee makers.

The issue is further confused by the fact that many Amazon authors are also verified purchasers, and the review guidelines for customers differ slightly from those posted in Author Central (i.e., the words "author, artists," are not included).

Personally, I would applaud Amazon for doing all it can to prevent authors from using the review feature to attack or discredit other authors. I am less enthused about being discouraged from praising a particularly good novel just because it is in the same genre as my own.

Your guidance on this subject would be welcomed!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 12:00:16 PM PDT
Does Amazon reserve the right to determine bias? Who is to say a review unbiased? Does their complicated computer algorithm electronically remove biased reviews? How is that done? I know of reviews that are removed for no apparent reason.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 1:34:15 PM PDT
Pete Morin says:
Response from Amazon, just received. (Impressive response time, no?)

Hello Peter,

Thank you so much for your inquiry regarding customer reviews and their guidelines.

You are allowed to review books in the same genre as your books, but we do not encourage nor allow authors negatively review this books as a way to increase sales.

Here is a link to our Review Guidelines for more information about acceptable review content:

http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines/

I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3GBV4YT967G87&k=hy

If no, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3GBV4YT967G87&k=hn

Best Regards,

Kaylee M.

Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
http://www.amazon.com/your-account

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 2:34:54 PM PDT
Grandma says:
Wonderful! I'm so glad you took my advice and wrote to Amazon. Now we all know the answer -

Authors can review, but don't review negatively.

Note you'll also still want to watch those author-circle "you review mine and I'll review yours" reviews. Those fall under "anything other than" and I've seen Amazon remove some of those.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 2:57:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2012 4:17:29 PM PDT
"Authors can review, but don't review negatively."

That is *not* what they said!
"allow authors negatively review this books as a way to increase sales."

See that second bit? They mean, no *trash* reviews. Not just ordinary lower than 5 star reviews.

Trash review example, provided funnily enough by the OP of this discussion (edit, not the OP of this discussion, my mistake - MT Dismuke who started the other mega thread in MOA whining about ungrateful readers)
http://www.amazon.com/Lindira-ebook/product-reviews/B006N2NOZW/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0

(original version for clarity of purpose: http://logophilos.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/dismuke_review11.png)

Ordinary non-trashing negative review, by yours truly, on a book I bought:
http://www.amazon.com/review/R2H962GTWY4NTH/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

I wil fiercely fight for my and any other author's right to leave honest, negative reviews, as we are readers and customers too.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2012 4:23:50 AM PDT
All reviews are biased to the extent that they include the reviewer's opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2012 4:30:42 AM PDT
"To you perhaps it isn't a problem that the CD didn't have a track listing,"

Normally, I include track listings where none exist, but this CD was already OOP when I reviewed it. Being a TV-advertised compilation, I didn't ever expect it would be reissued, and with 50 tracks (it was a double CD), I decided not to type it in. Many years later, it was reissued, initially just on MP3.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2012 7:57:42 AM PDT
"'Authors can review, but don't review negatively.'

That is *not* what they said!
"allow authors negatively review this books as a way to increase sales."

See that second bit? They mean, no *trash* reviews. Not just ordinary lower than 5 star reviews."

With all due respect, this is a difference without a distinction. I'm not saying they intend to imply that authors must rate all books they review as five stars (or even four or three). I *am* saying that, as an author, I would be wary of posting a strongly worded negative review of any book in my own subgenre based on this injunction because Amazon could easily perceive such a review as an attempt on my part to boost my sales. How do they KNOW that is my intent? They don't, and that's the problem: I don't know how they distinguish an honest negative review by an author from a negative review that is intended to boost sales of the author's competing titles. It's all in the eye of the beholder, it seems to me, which means it's by definition subject to arbitrary application.

Posted on Oct 31, 2012 8:41:38 AM PDT
F. Fairfield says:
To P.D. Harris, and others: Thank you for the information. I already suspected that reviews from non-verified purchasers might be less reliable; now I know that even the AVP tag was not always was I thought it was.
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