Amazon sellers beg and bribe customers to delete negative reviews, report says
Some sellers reportedly offered refunds worth more than the original product if a customer deleted or revised a bad review.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Some Amazon sellers are reaching out to customers who leave negative reviews on their products, according to a Monday report from the Wall Street Journal. Some sellers have reportedly gone a step further and offered a refund worth more than the original product in return for revising or deleting the bad review.
Contacting a customer outside of Amazon's messaging service violates the terms merchants agree to on the e-commerce giant's platform. Amazon's messaging service doesn't display a customer's personal email. In addition, sellers aren't allowed to request that a negative review be removed or a positive review be posted.
New Yorker Katherine Scott purchased an oil spray bottle for cooking -- sporting a 4.5 star rating average on Amazon -- but when it arrived, the bottle didn't work correctly, the Journal reported. After Scott left a negative review, she reportedly began receiving emails from someone claiming to be with the product's customer service team. The representative offered Scott a full refund and asked if she would delete her negative comments, according to emails reviewed by the Journal.
Amazon told CNET that the company doesn't share customer emails with third-party sellers.
"We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies," an Amazon spokesperson told CNET via email. "Bad actors that attempt to abuse our system make up a tiny fraction of activity on our site and we use sophisticated tools to combat them and we make it increasingly difficult for them to hide."
Customers who have been contacted by a seller about a negative review can report it to Amazon via email, the Report Abuse link available on published reviews, or directly in the messaging system.
Fake or "="" reviews="" are="" a="" problem="" on="" amazon"="">"incentivized" reviews are a problem on Amazon, according to a blog post from the company in June. In 2020, the company removed 200 million suspected fake reviews before they could be posted to pages for products listed by one of 1.9 million third-party sellers on the platform, CNET's Laura Hautala reported last month.