Amazon Bans Reviews Written by Customers in Exchange for Free Product

Amazon has decided to ban incentivized reviews, a practice in which vendors give customers free units in the hopes of a favorable product rating.

“Customer reviews are one of the most valuable tools we offer customers for making informed purchase decisions, and we work hard to make sure they are doing their job,” explains Chee Chew, VP, Customer Experience for Amazon.

“Our community guidelines have always prohibited compensation for reviews, with an exception – reviewers could post a review in exchange for a free or discounted product as long as they disclosed that fact.”

The key there was disclosure. But that part was never strictly enforced. Now it’s all to be done through Amazon Vine.

“Today, we updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program,” Chee says.

Here’s how Vine works: Amazon – not the vendor or seller – identifies and invites trusted and helpful reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release products; we do not incentivize positive star ratings, attempt to influence the content of reviews, or even require a review to be written; and we limit the total number of Vine reviews that we display for each product.

The new guidelines are in place immediately.