Some "Amazon’s Choice" Sellers Are Bribing Customers For Good Reviews

Products labeled “Amazon’s Choice” are what Amazon considers to be “highly-rated, well-priced products”. With this label, products usually see a threefold increase in sales.

However, some Amazon’s Choice products that are sold by third-party sellers are misleading. As it turns out, some products have inflated ratings and glowing reviews from customers who were promised gift cards or free products in exchange for five-star reviews.

For example, Sean, a longtime Amazon Prime member, bought a $19 waterproof case on Amazon for his Samsung Galaxy. The “Amazon’s Choice” case had over 100 positive reviews by verified purchasers which led him to purchase. However, the product turned out to be terrible because the buttons were difficult to press and the reflective screen protector made the phone unusable in daylight.

Soon, he realized why the bad case had good reviews. There were instructions in the product’s packaging to redeem a $19 gift card but proof of a five-star review of the case was required

In August, an Amazon customer named Anna ordered an Amazon's Choice probiotic supplement. When the product arrived, she saw a “free refill” sticker on the bottle. Anna told BuzzFeed News that, after trying to obtain the “free” refill, the seller asked for evidence that she had left a positive review.

These are just some of the many stories of "Amazon’s Choice" sellers bribing customers for good reviews. An Amazon spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that incentivized reviews are against the site's policy. In fact, the sellers who violate the rules are suspended or banned and the spokesperson stated, “when a product we identify as Amazon’s Choice does not continue to meet our high bar, we immediately remove the badge.” However,  the spokesperson didn’t say whether the company would investigate the seller of Sean’s phone case.It is important to note that incentivized ratings aren’t new. For years, third-party sellers have been compensating people for positive reviews. The important current distinction is that products with inauthentic reviews can be marked “Amazon’s Choice,” which is a problem for customers who trust the label as a signifier of quality, but sometimes end up with poor products. As someone who uses reviews to make my decision on purchases, I guess next time I’ll have to take another look at the reviews and hope they weren’t procured by bribery!