An actual honest review :-D. Actually, just a funny amazon review I spotted on Reddit that got me thinking back to my own review trials and tribulations.
I chanced upon the Amazon Review Trader (amzreviewtrader.com) website half way through last year. Basically it works like this, Amazon sellers offer products they are interested in promoting and you can apply for more and more of these once you get the ball rolling by reviewing the items. If you’re accepted to review a product you then receive an Amazon promotional code, which is typically but not always around 90% or even 100% off the cost of the product. Once you review the product you’ve basically completed your part of the agreement and get to keep the product (the value of which I found usually fell within the £7 – £20 range in actual value, when you factor in that some of the prices stated seem kind of inflated). I’m UK based, but most reviewers are based in the US I believe.
Sellers on the site can see selected stats from buyers/reviewers, such as the number of reviews they’ve completed, their Amazon rank and so on. When I started reviewing I found myself reviewing lots of pairs of headphones (you can never have too many pairs, right?) and other little items that I knew I’d get use out of eventually. It certainly saved me a good amount of money. As my Amazon UK rank rose I started to be accepted for more and more products as sellers saw that my reviews were generally pretty favorable and complete a couple of days after the product arrived. I added an email address to my Amazon profile which increased direct contacts as, funnily enough, did the hacking and leaking of the entire amzreviewtrader email database at one point (I was alerted to this on the reddit product testing subreddit – hi guys!). Thankfully I used a separate email address so it didn’t cause me as many spam problems as some.
Eventually I started to receive products that were a level up from before. Dehumidifiers, Portable Car Jump Starters, Water Flossers, decent Go Pro alternatives, enough random outdoors stuff to become a survivalist .. you name it, it was winging its way to me. Including images or videos in reviews was encouraged, though in my experience if you couldn’t muster the motivation to take pictures, as long as the ‘verified purchase’ review was positive, that was primarily what mattered. Companies such as Etekcity and EasyAcc have relationships with Amazon reviewers, even Anker, though the criteria to review their products is much more stringent and they tend to be on the look out for reviews on other platforms too (blogs, social networks, youtube etc). Companies couldn’t give stuff away fast enough to exchange for a ‘fair and honest’ review. I was on the brink of entering the top 1000 reviewers on Amazon UK. A conveyor belt of goodies surely awaited?
Only, no it didn’t, as my reviewing privileges were suddenly suspended. That’s right, it’s now impossible for me to leave a review on Amazon and my previous reviews have all been removed. I appealed but to no avail and for a couple of days I was really disappointed about it. In a sense it was also a relief though as I was genuinely running out of space to store things! Well that and the postman had started to get a world weary ‘here’s another 7 parcels for you today, sir’ look on his face. I had reviewed over 500 items up to that point at the cost of maybe a hundred pounds in total. There are many theories as to why reviewing privileges are removed, because believe it or not some reviewers are into the thousands of products reviewed and are still going strong. Theories range from forgetting to leave a ‘I received this product in exchange for an honest and unbiased review’ type disclaimer which Amazon rightly insists you leave (I did include this) to having multiple Amazon accounts (I don’t), or more than one person reviewing the same products in the same house / on the same IP and so on (nope!).
It could be that it’s something of a numbers game. I reviewed many products over a short time period and for each one had to submit a promotional code through the Amazon interface, so it can be no mystery to them that I’m suddenly leaving a large number of product reviews. Moreover, even when you are leaving honest reviews, no matter what people say, it is easy to find yourself somewhat skewing towards the positive (as in more 4 and 5 star reviews) for several reasons: expectations from the seller, the desire to be given more products to review (more likely with a generous/forgiving reviewing attitude), the tendency just to agree with a seller not to review a product should it be so terrible that you want to give it one star out of five. I had also been in touch with Amazon support over an unrelated issue, which I feel may have also alerted them to the fact I’d turned into a non stop product reviewing maniac overnight. So it could’ve been flagged for that reason. If you’re a reviewer on this kind of scale contacting Amazon is a big no no so I should’ve known better.
So all in all my Amazon reviews journey as an interesting one. I’d say that I definitely take some ‘honest reviews’ with a pinch of salt, but then again I take ‘all’ 5 star reviews in that same vein anyway and one star reviews too (as I feel they’re often from competitors). That’s not to say there aren’t 100% ‘honest to a fault’ product reviewers on Amazon, there certainly are, but due to the shear number of these promotional code reviews and review sites now, eventually I feel that ‘something has to give’. For now though, if you have time on your hands, grab some freebies while you can!!