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Many factors can impact and influence success as an Amazon seller, perhaps none more than customer reviews. Negative and fake Amazon reviews can be such a problem that sellers have resorted to extraordinary tactics to combat them (some in violation of ‘Amazon’s Selling Policies’), including offering refunds in excess of the original purchase price to remove or revise a negative review.
Like most e-commerce platforms, Amazon has developed community guidelines which, among other things, provides that “contributing false, misleading, or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.” Amazon offers two methods by which a seller can report and remove a questionable Amazon review:
On the product details page, click ‘report abuse’ next to the review; or
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and include a detailed description of the review and your concerns.
If a review or a series of reviews gives cause for serious enough concern, Amazon sellers should consider consulting with an attorney who has experience assisting clients with negative online reviews. At Minc Law, our experienced Internet attorneys have helped hundreds of individuals and businesses remove negative fake consumer reviews from a variety of online marketplaces and review websites.
In this article, we discuss the importance of Amazon reviews and why you may wish to remove negative reviews. We provide information on what types of reviews Amazon will remove, how to identify inauthentic reviews, and how to properly report those reviews which violate Amazon’s policies.
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Considered an integral part of the customer shopping experience, Amazon actively “encourages buyers to review the products they like and dislike to help customers make informed decisions about the products they purchase.” Customers can also publish “feedback” about sellers, positive or critical.
Most articles you read about Amazon reviews discuss the importance of generating positive reviews. But the average online consumer is very aware that product reviews and ratings can be and regularly are artificially inflated. Amazon itself recognizes the need to create a more trustworthy review experience. A consumer review is supposed to be a “true and authentic reflection of customers’ experiences with the products.”
Due to the prevalent and growing distrust of positive reviews, negative reviews are typically given more credence by online shoppers. No matter how many positive reviews are assigned to a product selling on Amazon, a small amount of negative reviews can significantly dissuade purchasing decisions. Competitors or others with an improper purpose know this and can too easily manipulate and adversely affect your reviews and ratings for their own benefit or malicious enjoyment.
There are several reasons a seller may want to remove a review on Amazon. Below, we discuss a few of these reasons and how negative reviews can hurt Amazon sellers if not addressed.
What Are Some of the Reasons to Remove a Review on Amazon?
In the digital age, online reviews are extremely influential in consumer purchasing decisions. Roughly 94% of all consumers read online reviews as part of their decision-making process before settling on a product or service. An estimated 91% of those coveted consumers between 18 and 34 years old say they trust online reviews at least as much as recommendations from family and friends.
Amazon is growing at exponential rates and has assumed a dominant position in the e-commerce industry. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Amazon will be responsible for more than 40% of Americans’ e-commerce spending in 2021. For context, Walmart has the second highest volume of e-commerce sales—and its market share is only 7%.
Various studies consistently suggest that upwards of 80% of Amazon shoppers are influenced by product reviews. Considering these findings, there can be little doubt that customer reviews are critical to the success of most every Amazon seller.
Negative Amazon Reviews May Lead to a Loss of Customers, Sales, & Revenue
An Amazon customer review can include both commentary and a rating. While the commentary in the review is important and the potential impact on sales obvious, the importance of star ratings cannot be understated. A product’s average star rating is the “curb appeal” for a product selling on Amazon or any other online platform. A good rating and the consumer doing market research will move on to the commentary in the reviews. A poor rating and the product is dismissed without further consideration.
Indeed, once a seller’s average drops below a certain threshold—such as 4.0 stars—consumers often do not even take the time to read the reviews.
Due to the reliance of consumers on Amazon reviews to make purchasing decisions, negative reviews in whatever form will inevitably harm a seller’s sales volume.
How do Negative Reviews Affect a Product’s
Although it is easy to take a single case of negative or nasty feedback personally, it is actually normal to have a few negative reviews on Amazon. In fact, negative reviews (in moderation) can bolster a product’s profile on the platform by adding the perception and feel of authenticity.
According to customer engagement and research platform Reevoo, more than two-thirds of consumers trust a profile with a mix of positive and negative reviews more than one that has no negative reviews at all.
A smattering of negative feedback demonstrates that real customers have interacted with your product. Negative reviews in moderation shows a true image of the product’s weaknesses and creates the impression that readers can trust the qualities outlined in the positive reviews.
However, once a negative review tipping point is reached, sales begin to be affected. The number and quality of reviews factor into Amazon’s A10 algorithm, which takes the product’s feedback and conversion rate into account when determining its ranking. Too many negative reviews can affect the product’s search ranking on Amazon and, ultimately, the seller’s credibility in the Amazon marketplace.
Grounds For Product Review Removal on Amazon
To remove an Amazon review, the review must violate Amazon’s community and customer review guidelines. Below, we discuss the various types of reviews that are not allowed by Amazon, and we also clarify the difference between Amazon seller feedback and product reviews.
What Are the Grounds For Product Review Removal on Amazon?
According to Amazon, customer reviews are intended for genuine product feedback—and the platform has a zero-tolerance policy for misleading or manipulative reviews.
Amazon’s Community Guidelines prohibit reviews that are defamatory, obscene, sexually explicit, or harassing. Reviews also should not invade others’ privacy or engage in spamming or commercially unethical behavior. And of course, posts should not engage in or advocate for illegal behavior.
The following is a non-exhaustive list circumstances that provide grounds for review or feedback removal by Amazon:
A review by someone with a financial interest in the product;
A review by someone with a close personal relationship with the product’s seller;
A review by the product manufacturer posing as an unbiased shopper;
One customer leaving multiple negative reviews for the same product;
A review left in exchange for payment;
A positive review of a game in exchange for bonus in-game credits;
A negative review from a direct competitor; or
An exchange of positive reviews by peer creators.
What is the Difference Between Amazon Seller Feedback & Product Reviews?
While the two terms can understandably be confused, seller feedback and product reviews are not the same.
Seller feedback refers to the buyer’s experience with the seller; for example, how quickly or thoroughly the seller answers questions about the product, or what the shipping process was like. Product reviews relate to the purchase of a specific product; for example, the quality or usability of the product or how well it matches the product description.
Why is Amazon Seller Feedback so Important?
Seller feedback on Amazon can help buyers determine whether or not to make a purchase based on the seller’s average feedback score rating. Seller feedback differentiates a seller from its competitors and promotes customer confidence.
Good seller feedback can also lead to a seller’s ability to win the Buy Box. The Buy Box is the section on the right-hand side of a product detail page where customers can quickly begin the purchasing process by adding items to their shopping carts.
There are two types of Amazon sellers: Amazon itself and third-party retailers. On products that are sold by several sellers, the Buy Box will include an “Other Sellers” section that lets users choose which seller to buy from.
82% of Amazon sales are facilitated through the Buy Box, with an even higher percentage for mobile purchases. And only businesses with excellent seller metrics can typically win a spot in the Buy Box.
Minc Law Fact: Positive feedback on Amazon can lead to increased sales, but the opposite can also be true. Negative seller feedback can cause a seller to be suspended (or ‘wiped’) by Amazon—and it also may be a ranking factor in Amazon’s product search algorithm.
Tips For Handling Negative & Fake Reviews on Amazon
Because reviews are so consequential for a seller’s success on Amazon, it is important to understand how to handle negative and fake reviews. In this section, we break down how to spot fake reviews—and then craft a strategic response plan to deal with them.
Learn How to Spot Fake Reviews on Amazon
Spotting fake reviews is crucial in safeguarding your e-commerce business. While platforms like Amazon allow for a certain amount of anonymity in reviews, there are a few red flags that can alert the practiced observer to a fake review.
Follow the steps below to determine whether a negative review came from a real customer or not.
1. Consult Your Customer Records
If you keep detailed business records, they can be the first place you turn when you encounter a reviewer claiming to have had a terrible experience with your product. Check to see if the supposed customer’s story matches up with any transaction history or complaints filed in your business records.
If there is no similar username, transaction, or complaint in your files matching the description in the review, the review may be falsified.
2. Investigate For Signs of a Suspicious Reviewer Account
Next, take a closer look at the reviewer’s profile. Look for red flags such as:
An Amazon account that has left no other reviews;
An account that was created on the same day as the review;
Names that are difficult to trace such as “John S.” or “Mike R.”; and/or
Sarcastic or obviously fake names, such as “Seymore Butts” or “Ben Dover.”
Minc Law Tip: Another way to evaluate the authenticity of a reviewer’s Amazon account is to conduct a reverse image search of their profile photo on Google. To conduct a reverse image search, upload or drag and drop a picture into Google Images, or you can search with a URL. This technique lets you know if the account creator simply used a stock photo or stole a photo from someone else.
3. Analyze the Review’s Timing
One or two occasional negative reviews are probably nothing to worry about; but if you are used to mostly five-star ratings and suddenly begin seeing several one-star reviews in a short time frame or other suspicious manner, you may be a victim of an organized attack against your business.
Or if you see a negative review being posted every day, week, or month, this regular interval could also be a sign of suspicious activity.
4. Examine the Review’s Language
Another way to determine if a negative review is fake is to analyze the language itself. Many false reviews seem “off” in one way or another; for instance, the review may describe the product inaccurately or contain inflammatory statements meant to cause outrage.
Of course, if the review’s language directly or indirectly promotes your competitor, that should be an immediate red flag.
Learn How to Respond to Bad Amazon Reviews
Responding to a negative review should be done with caution. If you do decide to respond to bad reviews, remember that your response should be used as an opportunity to show potential customers that you are honest and that you care about your customers.
And if the review was left by a legitimate customer, keeping your response professional and constructive may even convince the original author to remove the review themselves.
Keep the following tips in mind when responding to negative reviews on Amazon:
Act quickly. Try to respond within 48 hours (as long as you do not act so quickly that you respond defensively or angrily).
Use the customer’s name. If the customer has included their name in the review, use it in your response; this helps them feel heard.
Strive to understand the customer’s point of view. Avoid getting defensive or making excuses; instead, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and focus on solving their problem.
Thank the customer. While you may not like complaints, feedback is always helpful.
Apologize and offer to resolve the issue. Make your apology sincere, and be sure to offer a solution to the customer’s problem.
Ask the customer to contact you privately. Invite them to message you via the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service to help resolve their issue.
Know when to let the review go and move on. If the customer responds angrily or with new accusations, it is best to avoid replying a second time.
How Do You Contact a Customer Who Left You a Bad Review on Amazon?
Amazon provides an option for sellers to reach out directly to customers who left a negative (1-3 star) feedback rating on a product. You can access this feature by navigating to your Amazon Seller Central dashboard. In your Brand Registry, select “Customer Reviews.”
You will then be directed to a page where you can send messages to customers who left a 1-3 star rating. The templated responses provided by Amazon let you either offer a full refund or send a customized email directly.
Report the Review For Abuse on Product Details Page
If warranted, the review can be reported for abuse on the product details page. The review must violate Amazon’s guidelines in an extremely obvious way to be removed by the platform.
To report the review, click ‘Report Abuse’ in the bottom left of the review itself.
Then, you will see a popup window asking you to confirm the report. Click “Report” to finish reporting the review.
Unfortunately, there is no option to explain what you think is abusive or inappropriate about the review. And once submitted, the review is unlikely to be deleted by Amazon unless it is explicitly in violation of the platform’s terms of service and Community Guidelines.
Minc Law Defamation Law Fact: Just like any other online review platform, Amazon does not like to play referee. Because they are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they do not feel it is their responsibility or role to determine what are true and what are false/defamatory statements in a review. Section 230 protections are also the reason that, in most cases, you can not sue the platform where defamatory statements are published.
How Can You Avoid Negative Amazon Reviews?
Of course, the best way to avoid receiving a bad review is to provide the best service and customer experience you can for every customer. Below, we list a few ways to earn as many five-star ratings as possible.
Offer a High-Quality Product
It should go without saying, but the product you sell on Amazon should be of good quality and condition. Receiving a low-quality or damaged product is the primary reason why legitimate customers are incentivized to leave a poor review.
Provide Accurate Details of the Product
When writing your product description, do not mislead potential customers or make claims that are too bold about the product. Also, avoid listing product features that are not included.
Provide Stellar Customer Service
Offer speedy shipping options and ensure deliveries are mailed out promptly. And when customers contact you, answer their questions in a timely and friendly manner.
Include a Handwritten Note in the Product Package
Something as simple as a personal, handwritten note can remind the buyer of the human element behind your brand and product. Receiving a note in the product package makes the buyer feel a closer connection to you—and therefore, they may be less likely to write a negative review.
Listen to Honest Feedback From Customers
No matter how much effort you put into your product and service, no business is perfect. When you inevitably have a dissatisfied customer, listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly.
How to Contact Amazon to Remove a Review
Having a meaningful conversation with a platform like Amazon can be incredibly frustrating. Complaints and concerns too often fall on deaf ears. In some cases, an experienced internet attorney can help navigate the process.
How Can You Contact Amazon to Remove a Review?
To contact Amazon about an inappropriate review, you can send an email to email@example.com. Be sure to include the following in your email:
The ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) of your product,
The date and time of the review in question,
The account name or pseudonym of the reviewer, and
The URL/slug of the review.
Providing a detailed description of how the review violates the review guidelines may help increase the chances of removal. A screenshot—especially a timestamped screenshot using advanced preservation technology such as PageVault of VisualPing—may assist as well.
However, keep the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in mind; be careful not to overuse the email option and bulk report every bad review you receive. Save the reporting option for the truly harmful and potentially fake incidents.
Negative Feedback May Be Removed If the Feedback is Related to Fulfillment by Amazon
For seller feedback (as opposed to a product review), Amazon can choose to remove or strike through it if it meets certain criteria.
Amazon will remove feedback if the comment uses obscene language or contains only feedback about the product instead of the seller. The feedback will also be removed if it includes personally identifiable information, such as:
Full name(s), and/or
And although it is not guaranteed, Amazon may strike buyer feedback if the order was fulfilled by Amazon (since in that situation, Amazon takes full responsibility for the experience). Amazon may also strike feedback that was shipped using the Buy Shipping Service.
How Important is It to Have Legal Representation When You Are the Target of a Fake or False Amazon Review?
Disputes over online reviews present many complex and novel legal issues. American jurisprudence is still adapting to a world in which the Internet is such a major player in so many aspects of life, retail certainly being no exception. Many assume that nothing can be done about online reviews if a platform like Amazon refuses to or is generally disinterested in playing referee.
The ability to pursue relief in court is limited, but available. The time window is short and, for several reasons, there is a need to act quickly. An experienced Internet attorney can advise you of available recourses.
How Minc Law Can Help You Remove an Amazon Review
Because of how influential reviews can be in the digital age, negative Amazon reviews can have a noticeable impact on your overall business success. Therefore, it is critical to take the quality of your Amazon reviews seriously.
At Minc Law, we have proven experience in assisting online retailers who have been victimized by fake customer reviews.
“Minc Law did an outstanding job on our case, particularly Daniel and his team. They guided us through the entire process of unveiling the individual who was defaming our business online, and then all the way through to getting a satisfactory settlement. They always returned calls and offered sound advice for whatever came up during our case. If I ever need these types of services again, I will definitely go to them first.”
Jason M., May 12, 2021
To learn your options for removing a negative Amazon review, reach out today to schedule your free, initial no-obligation defamation consultation with an intake specialist by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a chat representative, or filling out our contact form.