Articles & Discussions

Amazon’s New Reviewing Rules – Could it Affect Authors in the Future?

Sorry re-posting this had an error posting it, sorry if you saw that error 😮

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Today Amazon.com has banned all reviews for free and discounted products unless they are done via Amazon’s Vine program.  The reasons for this are clear and understandable but what implications will this have for future selling on amazon and while books are currently exempt from this, will they always be?

I’ve been reviewing on amazon UK for nearly two years now.  I started out reviewing video games and colouring books.  For those who have read more of my blog you’ll know that reviewing items on amazon gave me a way to cope with a traumatic event I suffered.  A way to keep my mind off of everything that had happened and to focus on something else.  I began by reviewing items I’d bought but once my ranking had reached a certain level I was approached by many different sellers for reviews of their products.  I’ve always taken reviewing seriously and always been honest in my star rating for a product but there has been an increase in unscrupulous reviewers and it’s because of these people that amazon has taken this drastic step.

From now on all products (except books) can no longer have reviews in exchange of a free product.  Sellers who want such reviews will have to apply to the Vine program, something which currently costs money to do.

So why are amazon doing this?

If anyone’s picked up a newspaper in the past few months you may have noticed the problems amazons been having with ‘free’ reviews.  Firstly there were the reviews where people were getting paid to review items, I myself spotted some on the site fiverr, people offering to give 5 star reviews of a product in exchange for money.  Many of these reviewers had their accounts shut down on amazon but there’s a second type of reviewer emerging, what we call the ‘coupon club’ reviewer.

What is a coupon club reviewer?  Well to understand how they operate we should first understand the correct process.  In the past reviewers have been contacted directly by companies, authors, sellers who are willing to send a free sample of their product in exchange for an honest review on amazon.  This is the right way to do things, but a new thing called coupon clubs has emerged.

What are coupon clubs?

Around the internet there are various websites where people can signup and start receiving coupons for amazon products.  These coupons are exchanged at the amazon till for part or the whole cost of the item.  People signed up to coupon clubs promise to leave a review after getting their free item.

Although we’d like to think most people are honest, the truth is that many have started using coupon clubs as a way to get free stuff.  In order to do this many people will leave 5 star reviews for items regardless of how good they are in the hopes of being offered more items, who, after all, wants to give items to reviewers who give negative reviews? – or so the mentality of these reviewers and some sellers goes.

‘Coupon club’ reviewers are rife on amazon and I’ve spotted many of them during my time as a reviewer.  These people give a bad name to all amazon reviewers and I’m not surprised that so many want to get free products for review.  Some reviews by these people are so simple as ‘works great, recommend’ which to me isn’t all that helpful.

So amazon has taken the drastic step in banning all reviews which are for ‘free’ items.  The only way a person or company can now receive reviews for their products (other than waiting for someone who bought it and wants to review it) is to go via the Amazon Vine program.

What is Vine?

The Vine program is run by amazon.  It works in a similar way to the one already described but only ‘vine voice’ reviewers are offered the chance of a free product for review.  Amazon has a set amount of what they consider trusted reviewers who can review vine products.  You may have seen some of these vine reviews while searching products on amazon.  They appear with a green text above the review stating that this is a ‘Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme’.  Vine reviews are supposed to be considered more trusted that regular reviews and only certain amazon reviewers are picked to join the vine program.

The vine reviewer program is now considered the only way to get legitimate reviews.  Rather than sellers being able to contact reviewers directly, all reviews are done through amazon, so no chance for sellers supposedly manipulating the reviewer into giving 5 stars.  But is the vine program really that good?

For starters a seller can no longer pick who will actually review their product, just one of the many vine voices.  Some of the vine reviewers are great but there are a few who leave one line reviews which make it hard to give a true idea of whether something is worth buying.  Some companies might want to target tech reviewers to review a new gadget rather than have a book reviewer do it.  But with the vine program anyone can review the product whether they have a keen knowledge in it or not.  The second question is who is picked to go into the vine program?  Some people consider me an honest and trusted reviewer but I’ve never been selected.  I know of many really brilliant and honest reviewers who’ve been doing it for a lot longer than me but who haven’t been selected either. I’ve also seen people join the vine program with very few prior reviews that it makes you wonder who is considered a trusted reviewer.

So a good move?

Many people who have seen the corruption on amazon believe so and I understand the need to curb the current ‘freebie’ culture that’s out there.  However some key questions have been asked, questions that haven’t been answered.  For a start how does this impact on genuine small sellers of new items who relied on a few quality reviews of their products in order to generate interest and sales.  There are genuine sellers out there who accepted honest reviews (even if bad) and who can’t join the vine program due to the costs.  Second this whole new policy doesn’t actually stop the unscrupulous sellers and reviewers from operating in an underhand manner.  If sellers are willing to send products to reviewers (rather than using the coupon method) then reviewers could still post 5 star reviews just omit the fact they received their products for free.  There are enough sellers on amazon already not putting the disclosure that a product was free, what’s to stop them from continuing in this manner in the future?

What about authors?

While amazon is currently exempting book reviews from this process what’s to stop them implementing it in the future?  What if this new policy, while weeding out a lot of bad reviewers, will lead to amazon profiting from a rise in the use of their Vine program?  And if this happens will they one day wish to create a similar such program for authors?

Another New Rule

A few days ago I was informed about another rule to amazon’s review guidelines on the US site.  Reviews are no longer to be allowed by people who have not spent at least $50 using a valid credit or debit card.  This new rule means that for me, posting in the UK and cross posting my reviews to the US site would now be against the rules, though I’ve done it for a while now. I’ve only bought one digital item one time from the US site but it never reached the new $50 limit.  So am I now breaking the rules of amazon by posting?  If so I’ll have to stop reviewing there.  And if I do how does this affect the authors I’ve promised to review for?

Conclusion

It’s been a stressful and strange day with heavy and almost bizarre exchanges on the amazon forums .  It’s understandable that something had to change and the ‘freebie’ culture of amazon reviewing has to be stopped.  But is this really the best way to go about it?  Many reviewers believe so, but many of them are also part of that vine program that it makes you question whether they’re all that bothered as they’ll continue to be offered ‘free stuff’ to review.

I can sympathise with some of the newbie sellers out there who rely on reviews to get their products off the ground and who can’t afford to join vine.  I also sympathise with many of my fellow reviewers who will also see an end to most of their reviewing (especially heartbreaking if you knew the stories behind some of these people and their reasons for reviewing).  This policy will inevitably come to the UK, they usually do, but for some people who give genuine reviews and for whom reviewing has been a lifeline in their personal circumstances (like me) it is a sad end.

Does it mean an end to all reviews?  Of course not.  But I wonder what the future will bring to both good reviewers and those small genuine sellers.  And of course will the book industry be targeted in the future too?  Will amazon abolish all reviews that aren’t ‘verified purchases’ in future?  If so not only could small time sellers be affected but major ones too.  As someone who receives regular books from major UK publishers for review, these new rules and possible future ones do make me wonder what’ll happen.  There are a lot of questions that amazon has created with this news.  Questions that need answers, but will we get them?  Only time will tell.  To read amazon’s new policy change https://smile.amazon.com/p/feature/abpto3jt7fhb5oc

This news has had quite an effect on me, as you can read here

What are your views on this new policy?  If you are an author would it worry you about the future?  Are you a small time seller affected by today’s news?  Please do comment, I accept all views but please be civilized in any exchanges 🙂 .

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84 thoughts on “Amazon’s New Reviewing Rules – Could it Affect Authors in the Future?

    1. That’s terrible :(. Amazon really can be cruel. Of course there are some authors out there who ruin it by buying reviews but they are a small few and most authors only have genuine reviews on their book pages. Was it your reviews that were wiped out?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How were you linked to a Box set? And even if that’s true that’s ridiculous. Is this amazon US? I’m not sure if it works there but some reviewers do appeal to the UK amazon and have had their reviews reinstated and their accounts reopened but I guess it depends on who you are dealing with. It wouldn’t do you any harm though to appeal the decision stating why, though think carefully how to phrase your letter before sending it, some people at amazon are a bit daft when reading our emails. I’m so sorry that’s happened to you. I hope you’ll be able to get them back ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s horrible of them, I’m so sorry :(. What reviews do they think you did that were wrong? I think a lot of reviewers have had their accounts deleted unfairly. There’s alsoways some out there who are playing the system but so many nice reviewers and authors have had stuff deleted. Sorry 😦 Don’t let it get to you. It’s not worth getting upset over. Amazon isn’t the only place you can review and if you enjoy writing reviews do it on your blog/a blog. Or Goodreads if it’s books. Btw, I tried clicking on a link on your blog but it led to a blank page saying another blog’s been deleted?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ok not sure what’s happened there but I’ll check now. Might be the one I was doing with someone else as we no longer get along. I will not lie I did a lot of reviews for a free read plus did a few others with a discount but always did an honest review but there were loads that got caught up with the fraudsters.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve done a LOT of free and discounted reviews too. Did you always declare the book was free? I’ve been declaring it but not on books I’ve bought for free via some special offer. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this. It angers me more when it’s book reviews as there’s nothing really to gain from a book so why amazon is so nasty I don’t know. I hope you continue to review though. Many people review but never on amazon and Goodreads is actually a really nice place to go to for reviewing. It may belong to amazon but it’s run by different people and is much more lenient. Do you have an account there?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Do you mind giving me a link to your main blog? I clicked on your name in the notifications and it led me to there. If you don’t mind of course, don’t send it to me if you do lol? Either way please don’t let it upset you. Like I said amazon’s not worth it and there are plenty of other places to put your reviews and to talk about books, if you enjoy that. And feel free to rant about amazon to me anytime you want to ❤ 🙂 Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for posting this here. I didn’t know about the change. It definitely is necessary to protect the integrity of reviews so shoppers can still get honest feedback before plunking down cash for unseen products. But I hope it doesn’t go to book reviews. And as someone who reviews books myself, my opinions are not influenced by being paid. I give an honest review no matter how I got the product

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d just like to add to my previous comment: Just because someone receives a coupon or a free item for review doesn’t mean their review isn’t honest. It depends on whether or not that reviewer writes false positive reviews in the hopes of receiving further coupons, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Because I have an employee discount at the bookstore in which I work, I often buy physical books there. I also receive advanced reading copies (ARCs) from publishers. Were I unable to give customers advice based on their reading preferences because I got freebies and discounted books, it would be unfair. Similarly, I often receive offers of discounted or free self-published works. I am as rigorously honest in my opinion of these books as I am of traditionally published books. If not, what use would I be as a reviewer?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly right! I review is honest about a book no matter how the reviewer got hold of the book. And all reviews should be treated the same whether a bought book or not – sadly some people forget this. Thank you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this update. I hadn’t heard of Amazon’s change in policy yet. I’ve been more likely to put stock in the reviews of “verified buyers”, but if that includes people who get coupons, etc., I’ve been misled. Other than eBooks, I rarely purchase anything on Amazon. I’d rather support local businesses when possible because they provide employment with a living wage, the employees are generally knowledgeable about their products and able to advise me on the best choice for my needs, and I don’t have to pay shipping fees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It DOES include the people who have used coupons, they too count as verified purchases 😦 Like you I’d rather support local bookshops, however where I live there are barely any bookshops, there is one very small mainstream bookstore in the next town, with no others for miles!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Man, I feel for the Indie Author Community! As a book reviewer, I cannot imagine the stress they are feeling. Hopefully it will get better soon, and Amazon will find a happy medium for everyone. Wish I knew about the Vine Program, I love reviewing things, but I have no clue how one would be a Vine Member. I know the selection is tough.
    Thanks for sharing, this post is very informative!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have o clue as to how vine members are picked either :(. I’d love to be a vine reviewer, having reviewed many things (plus they have more books 😀 ). But the people they pick seems to be random, some people review a lot and get in, others review barely anything and get in. Nobody knows what the criteria is, but I hope it won’t be the only way authors can get free book reviews in the future :/

      Like

  5. I completely distrust the Amazon review sistem. There used to be a time when I would look up a book on Amazon to see whether I wanted to read it. Then there came a time I would read the negative revews first, then the good ones.
    These days, I rarely trust books that have a great majority of 5* review.
    I’ve published a book, but it isn’t on Amazon, that’s the length to which I distrust them. Besides, I don’t even remember last time I went look up a book on Amazon, I now look for my info elvewhere.

    Personally, I don’t think there is a solution. Simply too much money congregates around Amazon. Sure, Amazon is trying to make things right (I’m being very generous here, I don’t think they care for what it right and what is wrong, they only care about money) but, as we say in this part of Italy, sometime the patch is worse than the hole.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amazon cares about it’s own self first and the worry is that they will implement a new service that authors will have to pay to get reviews. I personally am able to trust some reviews on amazon but if you have to do some reading around to see if the reviews are genuine.
      You’re right about there being no solution. Amazon has done something drastic but it’s just given rise to new underhand cheating. As a reviewer on amazon I’m now getting sent emails asking me to review something but NOT state I got it for free. I won’t do this of course, but many others will and their reviews will continue to pollute the system :(.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amazon has been quietly pulling writer’s reviews off for months,.Their policy is that no one can review a book if related to, are friends with, or in any way know the author. As writers we all know each other and many belong to book clubs so of course we will know many of the authors we review. Second, Amazon puts in ‘verified purchase’ with each review, and is pulling off reviews . So far we can write in that we were ‘gifted’ the book in exchange for a review but I don’t think that will last long. I post my reviews everywhere from facebook, twitter to blogs and promo sites like ScoopIt. So far so good but I no longer write author after my name in my reviews. As for authors, Amazon seems to go out of its way to giveaway free downloads of our books with no money coming to us–by the thousands. With that and the lending library and free pages program there is no way for a good writer to make money on Amazon and being the Tsar that it is it has wiped out every major real bookstore except for B&N which is holding on my a string. Now they are going to create real bookstores across the country. Authors now can only make sales when dropping prices to 99 cents or free. Soon the ‘dime store novel’ of the past will be a reality once more.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree with the ‘tsar’ name you’ve given amazon. Having the monopoly now, amazon believes they can do whatever they like with reviews and books. I think it’s crazy that related people can’t review something especially if they freely declare the fact they know someone. I hope that a move like this might help some other retailers bounce back and give a chance back to authors. But of course we’ll just have to see how amazon plays things :/

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazon’s reviews have always had a sector of ‘paid to review’ reviews. Now Amazon is trying to clean up their act, but I think it’s too late, nobody really trusts Amazon reviews anymore. I recently had reviews taken down by verified purchasers, which doesn’t make any sense – just because we live in the same county. It’s ridiculous.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes I have heard of amazon just wiping out legitimate reviews. I have no idea what criteria wipes a review but it seems to be totally random. It makes no sense to wipe out verified purchases unless someone used a coupon code for them. The thing amazon doesn’t get is that there will always be a corrupt section of people, the trick is how you go about getting rid of them and this won’t rid the corrupt, it just stops those that aren’t from posting :/ Thank you for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the big problems is social media mad it possible to have interactions with almost any author. Now amazon is taking down reviews because of that interaction, thinking they must be friends and its a biased review.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I get a lot of the books I read on Edelweiss–my publisher has set me to automatically be approved for books from my publisher so that I can review them on my blog. I don’t know if Amazon would know where I got it–I suppose they could eventually set it to where you couldn’t review an item unless you purchased it through them. I once read they might someday even monitor your Kindle and not let you review an e-book if you didn’t finish it!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It would limit a lot of people if you couldn’t revie wnon-verified purchases. I have a majoy UK publisher sending me books to review on amazon, not sure they’d be happy if that move happened although we just don’t know what’s in amazon’s head. That kindle story sounds terrible.. I got a free digital download and later a physical copy of the same book. I never finished the kindle as I prefer paperbacks, what a prospect having to read the kindle version, or at least fast forward to the end, still a hassle. Thank yo ufor commenting 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  9. This explains why all of the books I received from the publishers were rejected and why Amazon only posted the reviews for books that I purchased on my own. Thanks for sharing this! I was so confused when I got 10 emails in a row that said they couldn’t post my review.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Book reviews are supposed to be exempt from the ban, there is likely something within your review the filter has picked up (which can be overzealous at times). If you have the review posted somewhere else post the link and I’ll see if I can identify anything it might not like.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. There are people all over the net now suggesting that you should keep words like ‘free’ out of your review. How do you declare the free book in your amz reviews? It could be the wording that amz computer system is catching you on.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a good tip! Thank you! They sent me an email that said external Amazon links are not allowed. I think it might’ve been the link to my blog that prevented it to post. They have so many restrictions now I can’t stand it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Did you try to put a link to your blog into you review? I’d just leave that blog on your profile page, although amazon is so weird now that I don’t know if it’s safe to even have a blog listed on a profile anymore 😦

        Like

  10. I understand, by reading your post, why Amazon has done this but i do worry that one day they will do something similar for books. Amazon is a big leader in getting our novels across to the public but perhaps one day authors and reviewers could set up their own review page, screened for those who just want to take advantage of course. It is a dream that might never happen but maybe……….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s certainly something that worries me. I wonder if amazon’s actions might cause a future where another site (maybe an unknown startup) might one day take on amazon for offering what amazon took away. I do hope it never happens with books but I’ve realised there’s no telling with amazon. thanks for commenting and for the reblog 🙂

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  11. Unfortunately the unscrupulous often mess things up for everyone else. I remember when Amazon had to tighten up the book review process after one particular author took to posting multiple negative reviews of a rivals book. I still see a lot of books with suspicious amounts of 5* reviews. One in particular I read (which was awful, full of errors, plot holes and bad prose) had something like 500 5* reviews and literally 2-3 1* reviews wondering which book the other 500 reviewers had been reading? From the sounds of it, you’ll soon need to hire a full time lawyer to understand Amazon’s rules…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Book reviews are still allowed so dodgy book reviews will continue, but I can’t help but think that amazon might one day follow a similar path and want authors to go through a similar program. It really sucks, as I’m sure you’ve read in my latest depressing post. Thanks again for your comment 🙂

      Like

  12. I’m sorry I’ve made a right hash of you comments section and I’ve lost track of the reply button.

    A very poignant post on the petition I thought I would share that sums up a little of my sentiment to what we do.

    “I’m signing because as an entrepreneur who is making the majority of income from FBA, this is catastrophic to my business. This limits the world from seeing innovation our company produces. With no reviews, there are no sales. I believe in FAIR and HONEST reviews in exchange for a discounted and free product. It’s a great way to get feedback from customers and learn from their comments. For lack of a better sentence, this change will kill my business.”

    (https://www.change.org/p/petition-amazon-to-allow-incentivised-reviews-and-3rd-party-review-sites/c)

    This puts things into perspective, for us it is a hobby, a creative outlet and a rewarding way of spending our free time. To others, it is their very livelihood at stake…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t ever apologise. The comments are the fault of WP, it only allows you to comment a certain number of times and then doesn’t show the reply button anymore. The best way to keep commenting is just to use the box that appears in the notification on the top right of the screen:). I’m not having a good day. Amazon has deleted John Ryan’s reviews. I never really knew him so not sure if his reviews were good or not but I thought amazon weeded out all the remaining bad top reviewers after the last few weeks. The whole thing’s got me feeling depressed today. Though you might not want to read my new blog post, I’m just rambling on about how bad I feel :(. Not sure if I can continue reviewing products at all anymore and I’m nervous of the last few items I’m expecting delivered home which I got via coupon :/

      Like

      1. I have to admit to not having opened up any review related emails now since Friday and I doubt I’m going to. Sadly, I can empathise all to well how you are feeling, I’ve been quite unwell recently and I have been struggling to care for mum…. yesterday was my birthday and the entire day I just felt numb until I took a deep breath and came to your blog to vent.

        I guess if UK follows USA I’ll have to just post on my blog my only concern is that I’m almost out of space and I can’t justify upgrading my account indefinitely… as such what’s the point of posting more on my blog if when I stop paying for premium it will all disappear.

        Given that your blog isn’t image or space heavy my advice to you is to ignore the fact Amazon USA is out of bounds (by this I do not mean ignore the ban by trying to post there obviously), this is beyond our control and it is not your fault that you can’t post there and suppliers will have to respect that.

        Amazon UK is still open for business and until there is official word and not rumour then continue business as normal. What if’s and what might be’s are unhealthy.

        If Amazon pulls a fast once on UK without notice and we are prevented from fulfilling our obligations again it is not our fault. Do not dwell, put your reviewers cap on, make a cup of coffee, keep calm and carry on.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi, I’m on my phone now but have an idea of what you can do with your blog to not lose content. Don’t give up yourself and happy birthday. Will send you another message privately, should I use your email on your amazon profile?

        Like

  13. Sorry to spam your blog, but some additional info that I stress has not been substantiated. (http://gizmodo.com/amazon-finally-bans-shady-practice-that-messes-up-revie-1787368927)

    “*Correction 10/3/16 7:05pm ET: According to an Amazon representative, “Reviews that were received prior to this policy change are being retroactively removed if they are excessive or do not comply with the then policy.” ”

    I do hope excessive does not mean long otherwise I am doomed to extinction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds terrible. The ‘then’ policy was what? If reviews are to be removed then it’s not really clear what will and what won’t be removed. I think excessive stands for the amount of reviews (I write long ones too so I understand your worry) but how many again is excessive? :s

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lol. Probably right there. If they had planned it better it wouldn’t have raised all these questions, they’d have been clearer in their policy info. 🙂 Sorry if I put typos in replies, I type replies too fast to see if I wrote them right, lol And I’ll be going offline now , but if you want to say anything else feel free, I’m often on my phone, though typing on it is slow 🙂

        Like

  14. There have been some real chestnuts doing to rounds tonight of suppliers clearly trying to find loopholes around the system PPS076 and AMZ sent me a few earlier and I have received one myself just now check this out…

    “We are looking for vine reviewers
    in order to get free products and post a review on Amazon.
    If you are a vine reviewer and want to get free products to review, please send me an email to”

    They clearly seem to have interpreted the fact the ban does not apply to Vine members and so are seeking to send samples to them directly cutting out Amazon, going to be interesting to see how it pans out over the next week or so.

    As for your post happymeerkat, I would have struggled for a day or more to articulate myself anywhere near as well as you have and you should be very proud.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words on my post. I wasn’t sure if i’d made it clear enough or not, been typing it while checking the forums fornearly 3 hours lol. I’ve thankfully not received one of those offers but sellers just don’t get it. Either that or the Chinese language barrier for some just makes it too hard for them to understand. Maybe amazon should re-write their info making it really clear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Believe me they could write it in every known language in a font the size of a bus and they will still seek a means of a way around it. No matter your perspective on the situation the fact is without a withdrawal of this change the Amazon marketplace and FBA products will virtually vanish, Eb*y will pick up the slack and people will end up buying blinding without the information they are privy to on Amazon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with you on that, I could see people turning to ebay or maybe a new market will open for them to do their business, and the legitimate small sellers will also have no real incentive to trade on amazon. And FBA products are safer in my opinion as you are buying in a sense from amazon and it’s easier to give back a defective item than dealing with a dodgy seller.

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  15. The happymeerkat is already more than aware of my views on this subject as we cherish the same values (although I do not claim to speak on her behalf).

    People who review freebies also review their own purchases, however unlike the average customer the hobby reviewer as some call us puts a significant effort not just into their so called “paid” reviews but also their purchase reviews.

    For myself 95% of my most popular reviews are for my purchases no my freebie and the fact is if there were no reason to go the extra mile with my reviews they would likely be no different than the plethora of other very short, uninformative reviews on Amazon lacking picture or videos.

    I have no wish to pick fight with any Vine members, I in fact salute their accomplishment, but the fact is there is neither such incentive for Vine members to go above and beyond once they have achieved Vine status.

    There are two points of evidence that the Vine system alone does not entirely provide the function suppliers require from it. The first is even browsing though a rough sample of products sold by Amazon with Vine reviews the majority of the highest ranked reviews are from “top reviewers” and not Vine members or casual reviewers.

    The second is that suppliers have no say nor interaction with the Vine program, they cannot pick and choose who writes the review or whether if pictures or a video will be added, they are simply granted a review by a Vine member on one Amazon store.

    Because of this an increasing number of mainstream suppliers and distributors are contacting top reviewers independent of the Vine program as this allows them to pick someone who they feel has the right knowledge for the product concerned and that they will get better value for money being able to pick someone who will also post the review on a blog, YouTube or even multiple Amazon sites.

    I do, however as a freebie reviewer always have my hat of neutrality upon my brow and I can see strong arguments both for and against the process, Amazons reaction to the current state of affairs however is nothing short of a gross overreaction.

    Over the years I have reported many email offers I have been sent that clearly go against the ethics or terms and conditions surrounding the review process on Amazon and I strive to abide by the rules laid out before me.

    Despite this, Amazon has in the past seemed content to allow automated proves to simply police and enforce its rules as numerous times I have reported emails specifically requesting a 5* review and low an behold a dozen 5* reviews showing up a week later, despite having the evidence Amazon should have clearly deleted these reviews yet never actually seem to do so.

    That said, I do not blame Amazon entirely, at least for this move as the truth is it is those motivated by greed and greed alone with little care for their fellow customer that has resulted in all hobby reviewers being tarred with the same filthy brush.

    “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” T Pratchett.

    (in other words read both sides of the story and come to your own conclusion rather than believing everything are told).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment :). I wanted to try and come at this from my point of view as well as make clear that I do understand the need for change to the current ‘coupon club’ reviewers out there. I still hear nobody ever talk about the concern I brought up about the fact that unscrupulous reviewers and sellers will still happily cheat the system and just avoid the problem by not disclosing the product is free. It sems that it’s perfectly possible for this policy to have it’s own twists and it can result in further bad behaviour which amazon is yet to deal with. I wouldn’t have thought a better process is to more diligently police the system but I suppose in some ways this is easier for amazon as they retain control over vine stuff and they also don’t need to employ as many people to go about checking reviewer accounts. I hope my post came out well, especially to you who shares the view of amazon overreacting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I hope they do not implement anything like this on books. I love finding a free book and then reading it and reviewing it. that was what first drew me into reviewing. There are some excellent and terrible free books out there. I hope they allow free books to remain and reviews to remain as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It won’t affect revies for books you’ve found on offer for free, but the ones where people approach you directly for review. And while it’s not done on books yet, I could see amazon getting greedy and charging for the pleasure in the future :(.

      Liked by 1 person

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