Amazon Review Policy Update Information October 2016
I have been doing product reviews for a couple of years now and I have had my blog up for over a year and it is something that I truly love to do, not just me but my whole family. We take time out of our busy days/weeks/months to test the products that we receive. We don’t just use the products long enough to film them and never use them again, we use them for as long as we can so that reviews and information can be updated over time. I’m proud of what I do and it means a lot to me when people comment on my youtube channel and on my amazon reviews that what I do is helpful to them, it really does.
So, you might be wondering what my point is. Well, as of 10/3/2016 Amazon has changed their review policy and it effects a lot of what I do (but not all of it by any means) and a lot of what Amazon consumers are going to see. For anyone who is not familiar with how reviewing works and how people start reviewing I will tell you and that will help to explain why the current terminology in Amazon’s terms of service is so important. So before I dive into all of how this all began I want to note this; as of October 3rd 2016 Amazon changed their review rules to add this important line of text under their Promotions and Commercial Solicitations section which is basically a list of no-nos:
“Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted product) or on behalf of anyone else.”
This is now officially prohibited by amazon. Explaining how reviewing works will make the reason why this effects so many more apparent.
I started reviewing products by hearing about it from a friend on Facebook. There were groups on there that sellers would ask admins to promote products and find people to review them and you had to know someone to join the group because they had to vouch for you and make sure that you did your job. Some people took this more seriously than others, I was one of those people. I made sure that my reviews were honest and well written and that I actually tested any product that I was supplied. This lead to discovering websites that did basically the same thing, sometimes you worked through the sites and never had interaction with the sellers and sometimes you would have sellers contact you directly, it really depended on the site. As my reviews got better and I knew what I was doing, being as descriptive as possible, doing video reviews, doing anything I could think of that would be helpful to the customer my amazon rank went down. This is a good thing, you see, when you start reviewing for amazon your rank starts in the millions but the more helpful votes you get and the more reviews you write and through some magical algorithm your rank will get closer to the number 1. Even once you hit the top 10,000 amazon sellers will email you directly and ask you to review their product. Once I reached the top 500 I officially left the Facebook groups and the websites because I really hadn’t used them in years and because I was receiving around 50 emails per day with product review requests. I have always been picky about the things I reviewed because I only wanted to review items that were useful and that I thought I could provide a good, helpful review for. Most of all I am honest and I have no problem giving out 1 star reviews as well as 4 and 5 star ones, unfortunately not everyone is like that. There are Facebook groups out there that want you to contact the admin if you can’t give at least a 4 star review and that is not a good thing because then you are no longer serving the public you are serving the seller.
So what does this all have to do with the recent TOS update? Kind of everything. For as many honest reviewers as there are there are just as many dishonest ones. People who just want free stuff and in return write, “it was a good product, I really like it” and then a disclaimer that is 500 words long. There are people out there who sell reviews and never even receive a product. There are endless stories of the few bad apples that ruin the bunch. Because of this Amazon started wiping review accounts which most people couldn’t deny needed to be done but unfortunately some really good reviewers were wiped (no longer able to review) along with the bad ones and there was nothing they could do about it. All good reviewers kind of lived in fear that they would be next and what they love to do, help people, test products, be honest, would be gone pretty much forever.
With the new rule, as with everything, people are interpreting it how they want to. To me it means that anything that I have received as a discount or complimentary can no longer be reviewed on Amazon and I completely understand why they are doing it. There will still be people who review as part as Amazon’s Vine program that will still review products they receive for free and that is great as these people are chosen selectively; I am not one of them but maybe one day…. 🙂
So all that long windedness being said here is what I intend to do. I will still review items on my blog and on my youtube channel and review things that I pay full price for there as well as Amazon (I already do this all the time by the way). I will keep doing what I love to do to help people who want to know about these products and I will do it honestly and with integrity and should amazon update their policy again some time I would be happy to continue as a top reviewer and if not I can only hope reviewing my full price items on amazon will help the people who need it.
This is by no means a bad thing, this is a chance to update what I do, to spend more time with my kids and focus on things that need to be done. I have learned a lot doing this, the most import thing being that I do this for the consumer not for the seller, helping out sellers trying to start a business is only an added benefit because ultimately I’m a helper, it’s what I love to do and what I will continue to do for as long as I can.
So that’s the basics of what all of this is about. Obviously to the general public it probably isn’t a big deal but if you’re in the world of reviewing your world kind of came crashing down yesterday and it is up to you to decide if you want to rebuild it into something better or if you want to walk away and say, “that was fun while it lasted”.
I hope this was helpful. 🙂