Amazon Puts An End To Incentivized Product Reviews

Sellers can no longer offer discounts in exchange for praise

Illustration: Diana Quach
Oct 04, 2016 at 12:57 PM ET

Amazon has never officially allowed paid reviews, but sellers managed to find loopholes by offering free or discount products in exchange for a positive review. Now, Amazon is officially closing that loophole by prohibiting the practice entirely.

Amazon claims the change that incentivized reviews only make up a “tiny fraction” of the reviews on the site. But the problem with incentivized reviews is that they yield skewed product review scores that don’t reflect reality. In its community guidelines, Amazon explains its new stance:

“[Content] and activities consisting of advertising, promotion or solicitation (whether indirect or direct) is not allowed, including… Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else… Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.”

It’s worth noting that his doesn’t apply to the Amazon Vine program, in which Amazon identifies good and trustworthy reviewers and pays them for their work. The main distinction here is that Amazon is the one paying these reviewers, not the seller, and Amazon doesn’t care whether they’re positive or not. So this elite squad of professional reviewers can continue to profit off their reviews, even if they’re not glowing endorsements. For everyone else, the gravy train has reached the end of the line.