If you read my previous article, “My Trip to The Dark Side of Prime: Amazon Paid Review Scam EXPOSED” you already know that paid 5-star reviews is an entire industry, but did you know that paid BAD reviews is also an industry? Yep, you read that correctly, and this isn’t only happening on Amazon, it’s also happening on Yelp and other sites.
As you know, Amazon is the current “Big Deal” marketplace to sell on, which creates a lot of competition amongst sellers. Unfortunately not everyone plays fair and some sellers, instead of focusing on themselves, will do whatever they can to destroy their competitors business. And, what is the easiest way to destroy a business? Answer: Bad reviews. The competitor knows that if they can knock your item down to a low-star rating nobody will buy it from you and will instead buy the identical item from them. So the competitor hires the evil deed out; they literally pay for people to leave bad reviews.
I know what you’re thinking, “How on earth does someone hire someone to leave bad reviews? Is this seriously a thing?” - YES. These “jobs” are found on Craigslist and similar sites under the “temp work” / gigs section and are listed as “Ghost Writing”.
Next you’re wondering how much these villains get paid: Pay is by word count because if the competitor paid by the review the evil-doer would just write “it sucked” and click Submit then collect pay, so instead the pay is based on the quantity of words typed. The minimum (fake) bad review length is 300 words. For reference, this blog post, as of right now, is 262 words, so as you can see, a 300 word review looks legit.
When it comes to writing the review the fake-reviewer simply reads other peoples reviews then extracts the couple things REAL reviewers said they dislikes and proceeds to create 300 words emphasizing how absolutely terrible these imperfections are and why the prospective buyer should avoid this product at all costs. In the end the review ends up looking legitimate and the buyer never knows the difference… then proceeds to buy the competitors listings.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE A VICTIM OF PAID FAKE BAD REVIEWS
First of all, let's be very clear: A single bad review doesn't mean you are a victim; it's possible the person just didn't like it and people are indeed entitled to have their opinion, even if their opinion is utterly idiotic and completely illogical.
But if you are getting nailed with multiple bad reviews that don't make sense, here's what you need to do:
First, Use FakeSpot.com. It’s a FREE site that allows you to analyze reviews for legitimacy. You can also use ReviewMeta to verify FakeSpot’s determination. All you need to use either site is the URL of the product. These two free tools should help you PROVE that you are a victim of a paid bad review scam.
Next, immediately reply to the bogus review directly on the Review page and also contact the customer directly. Remove emotion from the response and remember that Amazon can see all forms of communication between you and the buyer on their site. If you do not have an order using the screen name, be sure to point out that this person must be confused because they have never purchased this item from you. - We once had a lady freak the F out on us because her order still hasn’t shipped “and it’s been 3 WEEKS!”, within a short period of time we were able to discover that she never ordered through us; she had placed an order with a different wholesaler but when she Google Searched their company name our company results were provided for unknown reasons so she falsely accused us. When she realized the mistake she felt awful and immediately apologized; we told her if she orders through us next time she will never have to worry about slow shipping because she ship same-day (gotta turn lemons into lemonade, right?)
Next, ThePennyHoarder suggests that if you are getting nailed with bad reviews, use the Timestamp Filter. A company will typically recruit a bunch of people to write fake reviews for a product at the same time. While Amazon typically shows you its top reviews first, you can switch to filter by most recent. If you find a flood of five-star or one-star reviews that were left within a window of a few days, chances are those reviews are fake.
Once you have absolutely determined via Timestamps and FakeSpot the next step is to start reporting these buyers to Amazon. Amazon CAN and WILL remove a buyers ability to write reviews and when the buyer is banned 100% of their reviews disappear.
On the Report Page, to facilitate an investigation, be sure to include the information as described for the following fields, as applicable:
- Please describe your issue:
- The names of the buyers.
- The marketplaces for which the violation has occurred.
- A concise explanation of the violation – based on the policy.
- Order number: The order numbers pertaining to your reported violation or relating to the buyer in question.
- Add attachment: Attach supporting documentation (for example, contracts, related messaging, or receipts) - here you can also include screenshots of the proof you obtained earlier proving these reviews are 100% bogus.
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