Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Amazon Saga Continues #FTC #Amazon #saga #review #amazonvine

Remember when I ranted and raved about how Amazon took my reviewing priveleges...? Oh, you missed it...? Check out the saga here, nine blog posts worth. In short I was banned from reviewing products on Amazon because I was promoting links to a website that offered products in exchange for a review; I never promoted the products I received, didn't technically violate anything, but after many wasted attempts at resolution I gave up.. Yep, had better things to do with my time. I still do products reviews though, just not on Amazon. :)

Anywho... Amazon changed their review policy to no longer permit free products in exchange for reviews even if you leave a disclaimer. A seller can offer you a product, but it can not be contigent on receiving a review and they can not contact you directly, of course I blogged about it here. If you do get a product for free it is a courtesy to review the product on Amazon, but leaving a disclaimer stating it was in exchange for the product will get you banned on Amazon. This means that sellers can still offer free products just not ask you for a review and Amazon won't post a review for a product that was offered for free if the review says it. Confusing, eh? Basically to get to review a product on Amazon you'd have to come across one, happen to have a code to make it free or cheap, and then go ahead and leave a review out of the kindness of your heart and say nothing. Or, you could use one of the many Amazon review sites and groups to get products and the disclaimer on your review would have to be pretty simple, something like, "I got a discount on this product, the opinion is mine." Maybe? Either way, Amazon is so picky about it that they may just revoke your reviewing priveleges for that disclaimer too. Amazon has the right to revoke your reviewing priveleges or cancel your entire Amazon account if they feel you violated their rules, it's their site and yes they can do that, but wait...

The good ole Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") also requires you to leave a disclaimer on a product review if you were given the product at a discount or for free. Basically if you receive a product for free and then you review it, or if you receive a product in exchange for posting about it on social media you must tell your readers this. See my footer? It says this post may contain affiliate links, meaning somewhere in this post I may have posted a link that may earn me compensation if you click it; yep another FTC rule. So while Amazon won't let you review a product you received in exchange for a review, if you happen to get a product for free and happen to post a review on social media or Amazon and do not disclose you got the product for free than you are in violation of the FTC regulations. FTC as in Federal government.

Here's my rule of thumb...If I get a product, free or not, if I purchase a product, at a discount or not, and I like the product enough I will most likely blog about it because many products get well known by word of mouth. I just won't bother with Amazon anymore and neither should most people. Well, except Amazon Vine members, those personally selected by Amazon to post reviews about certain products that Amazon wants to boost sales on at any given time... double standard much? Nah.. (sarcasm font)

The whole reason for the crack down on reviewing on Amazon is because sellers were offering mass products for free or cheap and requesting 4 or 5 star reviews. If you didn't give it a great review they wouldn't give you more products, the incentive for more products being to increase your rating and thus being deceptive. However the more products they sold and more reviews they got the higher their products showed up on rankings and thus the more sales they got and the cycle went on and on. Essentially bumping out the legit sellers of their products getting any exposure.

Totally up to you... Do you follow Amazon's rule and just not leave a disclaimer because doing so really just gets your reviews wiped or do you follow the Federal Trade Commission and their laws? Easy choice in my opinion.

Side note: I found the pics in this post on the web.  I'm Nnt intentionally stealing anyone's pictures, just found them funny. If you want credit just pop me an email and I'll give you credit for them

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