All over Facebook the last couple days I have noticed a TON of people complaining that Amazon was rejecting their reviews as well as deleting their entire history of reviews! Today when I went to share my review for Solace of Water I received this message right after clicking the rating:
I have 3 things with this:
1.) I have never previously reviewed this product
2.) I have never previously received ANY communication from Amazon that any of my reviews didn’t meet their guidelines
3.) How is Amazon to know if I have a relationship to the product and/or seller and why use the term “may be perceived…”
After seeing this message I went to my profile page where I was able to see that my entire history of reviews has been removed as well.
Just seeing how many other people have talked about this in the last couple days has me pretty upset. I can only imagine how the authors feel! This is how I look at things too. We are required to share that we have received a free copy but not that we had to share a review. I can at least understand this. But look at it this way too: Say I walk into the library and pick a book I want to read, then go online once I’m done and share a review for it. Because I don’t own the copy I don’t need to share that I received it for free. Another scenario is that I go to a store and see a book I like so I buy it. When I finish reading it, I leave a review for it. Now the final scenario is that I go to a publishers page willing to give out copies of a book hoping for reviews. I pick out the book I want, and when I’m done reading I write the review. What’s the common denominator here? I picked the book I want! Regardless of how I got the book, whether borrowing, buying, or receiving, I chose the book because it was one I wanted.
Another argument I’ve heard is that Amazon doesn’t like reviews if you haven’t purchased the items directly from them. To this I would add, what difference does it make if you buy the same exact item at walmart or Amazon if you are reviewing the PRODUCT. A review will not cross-post to different sites. They are not connected. If you enjoyed a product you should be able to share that anywhere regardless of where you actually purchased (or received) that item from.
I’m curious to hear if anyone else has received any different messages than I have and/or had the same issues? Anyone receive a response directly from Amazon about it? I attempted to call Amazon tonight but was told by the person I spoke with that they could only write down my issue and forward it to a “more specialized team” to look into. I will try to keep this post updated as I can if I get any more information to share. I was told I should hear a response within 1 to 2 business days so hopefully I’ll get a response.
The advice I’m hearing/sharing is to call Amazon if this is happening to you and complain! Don’t be silent or they won’t see a reason to change! Reviews help authors and other sellers on not only Amazon but other sites as well!
A fellow reviewer shared this response she received from Amazon:
We have determined that you have violated our Community Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post community content on Amazon. This includes Customer Reviews.
Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any accounts and reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will be removed.
Your community privileges may have been revoked for one or more of the following reasons:
— Elements of your account indicate a relationship to sellers, publishers, or other reviewers of the products you review.
— Your reviews were posted in exchange for compensation, such as gift cards to purchase the product, product refunds, review swaps, or free or discounted products.
— You requested free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.
We made this decision after carefully considering your account. This decision is final, and your community privileges will not be reinstated.
To learn more about our policies, please review the following on Amazon.com:
— Community Guidelines (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html…)
— Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html…)
— About Promotional Content (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html…)
We cannot share any further information about this decision, and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.
Review Moderator Amazon.com
I clicked on the links and I have to say I really don’t like how they worded some of their policies, and in truth their wording could (and should) be argued.
This happened to me too. I was going to put in my review for a book a received for free. They wouldn’t accept it not unless you bought the item from them.
That’s what I’ve heard several people say. It shouldn’t matter WHERE you got the item from because the review is for the ITEM and NOT where you bought it from! 🙄
Exactly! Amazon’s really disappointing right now.
I had this happen a few months ago (although I never received the letter stating I was completely banned.) I contacted customer service by email and chat daily. They kept passing it off to someone else. After about 2 weeks, my review privileges were restored, as were all of my prior reviews with no explanation.
Rumors I’ve heard in some of the PR rooms on Facebook are:
– that you need to spend $50 a year on Amazon to be able to review anything
– that you can only post 5 unverified reviews within a week
– any wording that includes the words “arc” or “in exchange for a review” flag the review
– if you follow authors on amazon and are also friends with them on Facebook or follow their pages, you magically know them and are therefore biased
I’m sorry this happened to you – I know I was completely devastated when my reviews were removed. I’ve started reviewing on Bookbub since then for authors who list there as an alternative to Amazon.
I heard the $50 thing for the first time last night but I heard that was “ever” not each year. The other things I’ve heard repeated quite a bit though. Thanks so much for sharing!
Amazon have recently changed the $50 rule from “ever” to per year. I explained the background in a recent blog post: http://christianediting.co.nz/fake-reviews/
That was very helpful! Thanks!
I don’t write reviews on Amazon but I do purchase books for my Kindle. Amazon would only be hurting their business by blocking reviews. It doesn’t matter to me how the reviewer received the book, I just want to know the person’s thoughts so I can decide whether or not to purchase it.
A few thoughts–some that I’ve shared on Facebook, in case anyone happens to notice some copy-and-pasting. 😀
Because a lot of the recent review abuse/fraud at Amazon has legitimately violated their policies, Amazon has been cracking down to catch violators. But I’m sure a lot of it is done by computers, not by human eyes checking every single review or customer account. I doubt they’d have the manpower for that. It seems whenever Amazon makes changes to how they run things, there are technical glitches and hiccups in their automated efforts. While the glitchy computers are catching violators, non-violators also get caught in the fray, since glitchy computers can’t necessarily tell the difference.
Like many authors with books at Amazon, I’ve been losing reviews on my books for some time now. (Maybe a couple years?) But apparently, it’s glitchy. Sometimes the reviews that disappear for a while suddenly reappear.
I’ve not had to contact Amazon about my customer account, but it’ll be interesting to see how contacting them might help others. I imagine it more or less feels like a personal attack to have your reviews erased or your reviewing privileges suddenly revoked when you’re a non-violator. 🙁 But for most customers it’s happening to, I’ll bet it’s glitchy computers, not humans, that are punishing them, and Amazon isn’t targeting those customers or their accounts on purpose.
With however many millions of customers, Amazon has probably been getting a whole lot of account inquiries and complaints. I figure that to address so many complaints, they send back a standard reply to as many people as possible. (While behind the scenes, they may be scrambling to figure out how to fix the widespread issue.) In my experience with issues I’ve contacted Amazon about as an author, I’ve found that sometimes you have to contact them more than once about the same problem to get it resolved. And I’m pretty sure it’s a different support person dealing with it each time. I expect a lot of the Amazon support people are just busy employees trying to do their jobs (maybe rushing to keep up), and one employee doesn’t necessarily know all the answers. So they just send back a standard reply that seems like the closest fit, and they hurry on to the next customer’s problem.
Seems there have been a lot of changes with Amazon’s review policies over the past few years, and there may be more as they continue fighting review fraud. A lot of rumors go around about the rules and whatnot, but I think the best thing to do is to stay familiar with the source. Get your information directly from Amazon. Their policies, which differ a bit by country, are always laid out on their website(s). From time to time, as a US customer, I recheck their review policy information on the US site by going to “Help” and searching for “Customer Reviews.” Whenever something changes, more of the he-said, she-said starts circling around the internet. But again, I check a source directly from Amazon, like Googling for an article to see what an actual Amazon spokesperson has said about the changes.
I also bear in mind that Amazon is a commercial retail company, not, I don’t know, a public library or a government agency or something. 😀 I don’t always like Amazon’s rules, but at the end of the day, they’re a company with the right to make their own policies for their store. (You know–as long as they’re not breaking the law or something.) So, both as an author and an Amazon customer, I try not to put all my eggs in the Amazon basket. I make my books available at other retailers that are open to me, and I also post book reviews in other places.
As an added two cents as an author–have the disappearing reviews on my books at Amazon hurt me? In all honesty, I don’t really know. I can’t say that my sales have plummeted due to review problems. As an independent author who’s already on an uphill climb to build an audience and whatnot, I don’t sell tons of books yet anyway. 🙂 Disappearing reviews are just another obstacle on a hill of other publishing and marketing challenges. So I roll with the punches and keep working, since I believe my books are meant to help people.
And ALL of that to say–I hope Amazon gets this latest problem figured out soon, and that the customer experience will improve for as many folks as possible. 🙂
Thanks for sharing all of that! Good points 🙂
Becca, I’m sorry you’ve lost your Amazon reviews and reviewing privileges. Amazon deleted all my reviews last December, and I remember the horrible sinking feeling when I found out.
But I never got any email notification that they’d deleted my reviews, and the reappeared a couple of days later. I figured it was a computer glitch (especially as they deleted only my US and UK reviews, but not my Australian reviews).
I’d like to echo what Nadine says above. Amazon update their reviewing guidelines regularly, and it’s worth re-reading them every few months to see what’s changed (like the $50 ever purchase which is now $50 per year).
I’m intrigued by the email you’ve posted from another reviewer. It says:
“Elements of your account indicate a relationship to sellers, publishers, or other reviewers of the products you review.”
Relationships with other reviewers is new to me. I’m going to have to muse on that …
The other two points were things I’ve seen before, especially the rules about not receiving free books or products in exchange for a review.
If you want to better argue your case with Amazon, I’d suggest updating your Legal page. You clearly say you review books “in exchange” and that’s now an Amazon no-no. You might also want to delete the logos relating to publisher blogger programs. Amazon might see them as proving a “relationship” (compared, say, to using NetGalley).
Wording can be everything in acknowledgement of a few product to Amazon. Pay close attention when you hear of special wording no-no’s. I now say something like this:
”I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinions. I was not required to leave a positive review.”
Also, put out the money to buy a book every so often from Amazon. It will put your review higher on their list as a verified review( win for you) and keep Amazon off your back(double win for you).
Sorry this happened to you, I can only imagine what a shock and bummer it was! I’ve only done reviews on Goodreads, for books I’ve gotten from the library. The difference is Amazon is a merchant, not just a website to post reviews. Most reputable merchants only allow you to review if you purchased from them, that is the only way they can tell it isn’t tied to something else, even though there are other good reasons, but since they can’t be proved, they can’t be used. When I buy a coffee pot, etc, I typically can only leave a review if I purchased it from that merchant. I can’t leave reviews if my neighbor gave me her coffee pot new and unused. The reviews were being taken advantage of by some, and that is the only way they can ensure a review is unbiased and legit, even though that also cuts off many innocent. This is one thing about blogging, you can’t always foresee where something could happen that wipes out a good chunk of your efforts.
This post was from a long time ago. My rights have been reestablished and I can share reviews on Amazon again, however I know some people have still had issues getting it fixed. The bigger deal was that Amazon was trying to block fraudulent reviews– where someone was given something for a 5 star review or friends/family would create dud accounts and share multiple reviews on items. Amazon made changes because of the level of fraud not just because of someone buying an item from another location. Thankfully I haven’t had any issues since they fixed my account.