Ever wonder how cheap, no-name products on Amazon can amass hundreds, sometimes thousands, of nearly perfect star ratings, with just a handful of negative reviews?
Here’s one way: Some sellers are reaching out to unhappy buyers to revise or delete their negative reviews, in exchange for refunds or gift cards. With fewer disgruntled shoppers, the overall average star rating rises.
Sellers who ship products via Amazon aren’t supposed to reach out to customers outside of Amazon’s official channel—in fact, it’s a violation of the terms they agree to on the retail platform.
In March, New Yorker Katherine Scott picked out an oil spray bottle for cooking, based on nearly 1,000 glowing Amazon reviews of the product, which had a 4.5-star rating average. When the $10 sprayer arrived, she found the item didn’t work as advertised: Instead of a mist, it produced a stream of oil, she said. “It was like a Super Soaker gun instead of a spray-paint can, which defeats the purpose of the product,” she said. She left a negative review.
A week later, Ms. Scott received an email from someone claiming to be from the customer-service team of the oil sprayer’s brand, Auxtun—correspondence which I have reviewed.