For over a year now we have been discussing the unethical behavior of hundreds of thousands of 3rd party sellers on sites such as Amazon, Walmart and eBay who pay large scale review companies to post fake 5-star reviews on their products (and fake 1-star reviews on their competitors products) to improve their chances of fooling the average person into believing their products are better than they actually are.

This outrage has continued largely unabated due to the extremely large number of 3rd party sellers involved. When you have millions of products to watch, an automated review checking system is really the only affordable option. However, automated review checkers can be fooled, and they often are. Even when fake reviews are identified, with corroborating evidence as we have done in the past, sites such as Amazon still don’t remove them.

We identified hundreds of fake reviews on products on Amazon, published them on this news site, and submitted them to Amazon’s executive support team– and they refused to take down the reviews.

In the past we have have instead chosen to focus on the dishonest 3rd party sellers, seeing as they are the ones really breaking the law. All Amazon was doing wrong was being overwhelmed, and it’s hard to blame them for that. However that has now changed.

It’s no secret that there is real money to be made by driving reviews to products and Amazon, seeing an opportunity, decided to take action. They have a program called the Early Reviewer Program that is all about paying Amazon customers to place reviews on products that do not yet have any. To be completely fair to Amazon, there are some differences in how Amazon operates as opposed to review farms.

  1. Amazon does not guarantee 5-star reviews on the products. The reviews will most likely be good scores because the reviewers know that companies do not want to pay for bad reviews and that companies won’t use the service again if they give bad reviews. So without having to actually guarantee anything, a situation is created where reviewers will feel pressured to give good scores.
  2. Reviewers are paid with gift cards, not money. This prevents people from living off of review income, and the rewards do not cover the price of the product, something review farms require.
  3. There is no way to tank a competitor’s reviews. This is really the only really good thing about this program, while it can help the 3rd party seller, it cannot be used as a weapon to demonize honest competitors with fake negative reviews.

You can read about Amazon’s new program for yourself here.

One of the more troubling things we found while researching this issue is that Amazon doesn’t want people talking about it. At this link you can read that Amazon’s policy includes a restriction that if you use their Early Reviewer Program, you aren’t allowed to advertise it.

Why all the secrecy? Why wouldn’t Amazon want you to help them do their job by raising awareness? Well that’s an easy answer: when something you are doing is in the gray area of the law, it’s better not to talk about it.

That’s why we spend so much time talking about the companies that are doing things the right way. Honest companies such as our friends at Numbify.com. When you buy a Numbify product, you can rest assured that the reviews you read are honest, and from real customers (the positive reviews anyway, their competitors have been known to buy fake negative reviews). So if you are in the market for a great numbing product, from an honest Amazon seller, check out their products on amazon at the following link. Stay safe!