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How my Amazon reviews got DELETED FOREVER!

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In yesterdays post I talked about how you can get started in the endless world of product reviews, and I had mentioned that there are some things that you should avoid along the way. Well... This is a story about one of the things you should 100% avoid, and how it ultimately led to Amazon Canada banning my user profile from community submissions. Again, for those TL;DR readers out there (I see you lurking!), make sure you stay 100% honest, don't be scared to provide negative feedback, don't allow yourself to get bullied, stay ethical in your decisions and negotiations surrounding your product reviews, watch your volume of reviews, and READ THE TERMS OF SERVICES on the platform you are using to publish your reviews. Now, on with the story!

 

Back when I first began writing Amazon Canada reviews, I applied all the methods mentioned in my last blog. I started by looking around my home for things that I had previous purchased from any retailer, and if the product was available on Amazon Canada, I would simply review it there. Before long, my review count was soaring close to 50 reviews! Around this time, I began receiving emails from companies asking if they could supply me with coupon codes or direct shipment to my door of their products in exchange for reviews, which would effectively discount the item to $0 using either method. Free product? Sure, send it on over and I will write a review on it! This was an exceptionally slippery slope that I was not even close to being prepared for.

 

Before long I was receiving products, sometimes in multiples, almost every single day. I think at one point I had actually logged somewhere around 80 products shipped in just one calendar quarter (3 month window) from Amazon, and that's not even counting the items that were directly shipped from the vendors warehouses. Everyday would be the same routine. I would receive one or more products in the mail, snap some photos of the exterior packaging, open them, snap some more product shots of the item itself, then go about my testing. Once everything had been thoroughly tested, I would write my review, attach my photos, and submit it for processing. I was exceptionally proud of my reviews, and in my opinion they were pretty high up there on the quality scale, especially compared to some of the one to two liners most other purchasers were writing. I think this is what led to more and more resellers reaching out to me to supply free product, and it just kept going from there.

 

I was on cloud nine! I was so caught up in all this "free" stuff coming in, that by the end of it I didn't know what to do with it all. Now, it wasn't all stuff that I would consider useful either, or at least not in the volume I had been receiving. In fact, I think I've lost count of how many dehumidifiers and essential oil defusers I have in my storage closed. I had gotten so caught up in my climb to the top of the Amazon Canada leaderboard that I didn't really care what I was receiving. If it was reviewable, I would review it! Now, I think we need to stop for an ethics check here for a moment. I DID NOT give everything I received a 5 star review, and at times may have been a little too brutally honest when it came to the poorer quality of some of the items I would receive. I remember some pretty heated email chains between myself and some resellers who would demand a 5 star review because they had provided me their item free of cost, and some would even go as far as to try and pay me to append my review. With an exceptionally large volume of reviews and a high level of user likes thanks to the quality of my reviews, I had hit the Top 100 on the leaderboards in less than one year. This was a HUGE deal to me as there were MILLIONS of unique users writing reviews on Amazon. Then, everything changed...

 

Remember in my last blog post when I said that Amazon had changed their review policies? Well, that happened while I was actively reviewing. You see, Amazon realized that not every reviewer on the platform was honest (Shocker!), and many people were trading free product and/or payment for 5 star reviews. If you search for a product on Amazon, their algorithm will rank product results based on purchase history and review ratings/volume. This lead to most of the top suggested products on Amazon simply being utter junk with large volumes of purchases ($0 after coupon was still considered a purchase) and exceptionally high average user scores. So, what could Amazon do to fix this issue? Well, a couple different things. To start, Amazon cracked down on the reviews that would actually become published and displayed for potential buyers. If the review happened too quickly after receipt, was "purchased" using 100% off coupons, or had no purchase history at all, they simply would not publish your review. This drove a steak directly in the heart of some resellers, especially those who seemed to rely solely on paid reviews. Before long, people found a way around this policy, a loop hole hole if you well... And everything started up again right where it left off.

 

Resellers were offering PayPal refunds in exchange for the reviewer purchasing the product with their own money for the purpose of a "Verified Purchase" review. This created a seemingly untraceable system of back end compensation that Amazon could not see. So, the reviews continued on. Purchases would be made out of pocket, with refunds coming in via PayPal within a short time after the review was audited and posted by Amazons community team. Was this system perfect? No, of course it wasn't. Some resellers would simply cease communications and ignore reimbursement requests if the review was not up to their standards. Before long, I had found myself almost in debt as I would buy a large volume of products, to then only receive partial reimbursement from a handful of resellers. Not only that, it was also becoming very hard to track the financial volume of purchases compared to the trickle in effect of back end reimbursements, causing credit card billed to skyrocket without knowing how much was actually received back to pay off the growing debt. But, I was still in it to win it and was forever shooting for that top 50, top 25, top 10, then maybe someday the very top Amazon Canada reviewer. 

 

Then one day, it all came CRASHING down :(

 

You see, not only was Amazon tracking the verified purchase volume of users, they were also tracking the types of items purchased as well. Honestly, I should have known better looking back on it now. Who in their right mind would buy such a large variety of stuff (And sometimes junk) in such short bursts? Camping tumblers, a dehumidifier for the 6th time, 2 bluetooth speakers, and a manual blood pressure cuff? What is this man doing with his life?!?!

 

Then it happened...

 

One day I opened my email inbox to a notice from Amazons community team letting me know that my community involvement had been officially and irreversibly terminated due to suspicion of paid reviews. Is that what I was doing? Accepting money for 5 star reviews? Absolutely not. In fact, I believed that I had actually been performing a justifiable service to the platform. I was taking time out of my life on an almost daily basis to either create orders or write honest reviews to help supply accurate feedback for the potential buyer in order for them to make the best educated purchasing decision with their own money. But, can I actually prove this? Nah, not really. Not without willingly admitting that I hadn't actually read Amazons community involvement terms of service and had been unknowingly skirting the line this entire time.

 

In the end I accepted my termination from the platform... Mostly because they even locked my ability to appeal the reason for my dismissal. Let's just chalk that up to being one and the same shall we? Thankfully this ban was only against community involvement, so I can still purchase from Amazon whenever I want... I just can't comment, rate, or review anything, and EVERY SINGLE REVIEW I wrote over the course of 2 years had been pulled down and my ranking or reviewer score was stripped from my account :(

 

If you are considering taking a stab at the world of product reviews, then please learn from my mistakes. Be sure to watch your review volume, make sure what you are reviewing makes sense to your niche or knowledge base, and never accept payment in exchange for unearned reviews or publications. Remember, what you are doing will directly impact the financials of the potential buyer, and this is a responsibility that you should not take lightly. 

 

Let's get some comments on todays blog! Have you found this post useful in any way? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, if you are new to this platform, what brought you to the blog? I am always looking for new ways to get this seen, and would love to know what brought you to my little corner of the internet.

 

 

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I'm sorry to hear this!

I get why Amazon do this, it sucks you got caught into the mix.

I still enjoy your reviews though!

This was an amazing read.

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20 hours ago, lucwolfe said:

I'm sorry to hear this!

I get why Amazon do this, it sucks you got caught into the mix.

I still enjoy your reviews though!

This was an amazing read.

Thanks Luc! If was fun to vent the experience down in written form, and to help prevent this type of thing happening to other honest reviewers out there.

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