(Natural News) Many sellers on Amazon pride themselves with having almost five-star ratings and almost zero negative product reviews. This is because some of them pressure disgruntled customers to revise or delete their negative feedback, with some customers receiving refunds of gift cards. However, sellers who engage in this practice violate the terms and conditions they agreed to before posting their products on Amazon.
One customer shared her experience with these kinds of sellers with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Back in March 2021, New York resident Katherine Scott purchased a $10 oil sprayer after seeing almost 1,000 positive Amazon reviews of it. When it arrived, she found that the sprayer did not work as advertised – producing a stream of oil instead of a mist.
“It was like a Super Soaker [water] gun instead of a spray paint can, which defeats the purpose of the product,” Scott said. She left a negative review of the product due to her disappointment.
Scott received an email from a customer service representative at Auxtun, the oil sprayer’s manufacturer, a week after she left the review. The representative asked Scott to “consider deleting comments at [her] convenience,” with Auxtun “willing to refund in full.” Scott asked for a refund, but did not delete her review. The Auxtun representative replied and declined to issue a refund.
A second email called on Scott to delete the bad review as it was “a fatal blow” to the company – with a $20 offer on the line. Hours after that email, she received a third message from the same email address. “It was so creepy. They emailed me directly about it over and over,” Scott told WSJ.
Scott gets in touch with Amazon… to no avail
Scott then reached out to Amazon twice about the matter. A customer support agent told her on April 16 that an Amazon team will get back to her within 48 hours and ensure “the seller will no longer be associated” with the company. However, no one got back to her.
She called Amazon’s support hotline in July after receiving more unwanted emails. Another representative told her that the case would be investigated, but Amazon would not be able to release the results. The listing for the oil sprayer, alongside its reviews, remained live despite Scott’s complaints.
It was only after WSJ technology columnist Nicole Nguyen reached out to Amazon for comment that the e-commerce giant took action. The listing for the oil sprayer disappeared, and both Auxtun and the seller HoHousstore became unavailable on Amazon. The two parties did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Amazon told Nguyen: “The issue you’re highlighting was detected by our internal process, and the appropriate enforcement actions were taken.” The spokesman added that the company does not share customer email addresses with third-party sellers. Furthermore, the Amazon platform’s terms of service prohibited sellers from requesting customers to remove negative reviews or post positive ones. (Related: Facebook, Twitter and Big Tech make their money in China.)
Harassing disgruntled customers “common practice” in China
Scott was not the only customer who received emails pressuring her to remove the negative review. The Los Angeles Times reported the case of Oakland, California resident Matthew Garrett. Back in June 2016, he purchased an internet-connected power socket from a Chinese vendor called AuYou on Amazon for $30. He noted some security concerns with regard to the device in his 800-word review of the device and left a one-star rating. (Related: Amazon now harming Americans by allowing Chinese manufacturers to sell harmful and mislabeled products to US consumers.)
A few hours later, he started to receive emails from an AuYou employee named Amy Lee asking him to remove the negative review. According to Lee’s email, she would be terminated unless Garrett removed his feedback. Similar emails were sent his way for 12 days, only ending after a final message from Lee’s colleague Neolia. Just the same, Garrett said no one from Amazon intervened.
Chinese business professor Wang Yi told the LA Times: “Chinese businessmen attach excessive importance to customers’ reviews because it’s deeply rooted in the Chinese personality that they don’t want to lose face, or be disgraced in front of other people.” He continued that many sellers do not care if the reviews are fake. “Although sometimes they know the good feedback is not real, they still enjoy the fake compliments,” Wang said.
Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba said eight percent of its complaints on its Taobao platform involved customer harassment from vendors. Because of this, the company issued a new rule penalizing vendors who maliciously harass Taobao customers — with “insulting and threatening words” now counted as harassment.
Meanwhile, the Amazon spokesman that talked to Nguyen said the company “provides a great deal of help content, proactive coaching, warnings and other assistance” to sellers, ensuring their compliance with policies put in place. He added: “We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features. [Furthermore,] we suspend, ban and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”
TechGiants.news has more articles about sellers harassing customers who leave negative reviews on Amazon.