Over one million writers all over the world are paid commission on sales to write reviews about products on Amazon. This trend of paying for reviews was widely used in the just concluded Prime Day sales. Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, is advocating that the Federal Trade Center looks into the matter of paid review by the e-commerce traders. The reason given by the consumer advocacy group is that paid feedbacks gave consumers falsified information which led to them buying the reviewed products. The products especially those advertised during the Prime day promotion sales a week ago benefitted most from this. A survey on social media by the group revealed that Federal Trade Centre rules are ignored by Amazon merchants who continue to peddle paid reviews without disclosure.
What are the demands of the Consumers group?
Public citizens are clamoring for a Federal Trade Centre’s investigation into whether the third-party sellers violated the FTC’s guidelines. There are also accusations that the retail giant snuck into people’s social media pages to advertise its products. This is a major violation of the laws of advertising. The President of Public Citizen, the concerned group, said that consumers should be aware of the recommendations written on products on Prime Day best buy were fabricated.
The Public citizen’s President also hinted that most of the Prime Day recommendations sent to consumers during the just recently concluded sales were paid for. Amazon has a policy stipulates that traders must indicate if the reviews on their products are paid for or free. The mode of payment for the adverts can be paid commission per click while some reviewers are paid a flat fee for the reviews they give about the advertised products. Reviewers and Amazon associates mostly ignore this declaration policy. For this cause, there are now more of the lawyers who sue Amazon.
How did Amazon respond to the accusations?
Amazon responded to these accusations in an email that all Amazon associates are required to follow all of Amazon’s legal policies. This policy includes making disclosures if there was payment for reviews or not.
Non-compliant traders on the platform often have to deal with Amazon seller account suspension which saps their time, money and energy. It takes their money in the sense that, they now have to patronize Amazon suspension consultants. Seeking Amazon suspensions help after losing selling rights are very common among sellers on the platform. Many sellers attest to the fact that, even with the help of suspension specialists, they spend a lot of time and energy trying to get back their accounts. These specialists who often carry the name Amazon sellers lawyer, guide suspended defaulters through writing a winning Amazon plan of action in the reinstatement process. Public Citizen will continue to expect the marketplace’s policy on curtailing the practice of paid reviews.
What were further steps taken by the Public Citizen group?
Public Citizen sent a letter to the Federal Trade Center demanding that the agency investigate the accusations levied against the retail giant. A representative of the Federal Trade Centre confirmed that they received the Consumer group’s complaint, but he refused to comment further on the matter. No comment was also made on whether legal actions will be taken against violators.
President Wessman of the Public citizen group sent another letter to the Federal Trade Center on the 23rd of July, 2019. This letter was to address an issue with a phrase in the disclosure column of Amazon’s legal policy. The erring phrase is “as an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases”. The Public Citizen group tagged this phrase as confusing and unclear. They demand that the terms of the endorsement be stated in simple and clear language without leaving room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. A simple sentence such as “Yes, this is a paid endorsement or I will get this much percentage as sales commission if you follow this link or use the code included in this review should be used instead”
Public Citizen research showed that fifteen websites that published adverts on Amazon Prime Day promotions did not disclose to the viewers the condition of their payment for the reviews. Eight sites contained the terms of their payments, but it was not conspicuously placed. The group further discovered that 53 Instagram adverts did not have any form of disclosure while the 22 Instagram postings had insufficient information in their declarations.
Public citizen groups, however, understand that some of the reviews might have been unpaid and disclosure will not have been needed in such instances.
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