Amazon Giveaway Contest!

11/11/16 – Here’s an Amazon Giveaway to win:

Click here to enter.

YAHEY Tumbler Cup 20 oz with 2 Cup Lid Stainless Steel Double-Wall Vaccum Insulation Travel Mug Keep Hot or Cold for Hours(Blue)

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Hurry – ends SOON

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/8d81213def5c915c/?ref_=tsm_4_tw_p_ln-l

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40% off on a digital thermometer

11/11/16 – (Valid through 11/13/16)

40% off!  USE CODE: N254SM2D

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Yoofor Digital Foldable Food Thermometer with Back Light
Valid 3 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. on 7th November.
Special 40% discount only for you on Amazon.

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Amazon vs Google

shopping-cart-148959_1280In a recent article on CNBC, 55% of people start their online shopping searches on Amazon.  Only 28% use a search engine, this number includes Google along with all the others. Only 16% of people started their searches on a different retailer’s site.

I was not in the least surprised by this, I am also among the majority that turn to Amazon first when buying practically anything.   Even on those few occasions where I do look elsewhere first, I always compare prices and options on Amazon.   More often than not I find it cheaper at Amazon, and as many of the people surveyed for the article said, the checkout process is more convenient on Amazon.  Other retailers are trying to catch up, but Amazon is still king.

This is good news for Amazon reviewers, as it means more eyes reading reviews and in turn more sellers wanting good quality reviews.

 

100% of people should check out my blog archives.

 

Bad reviewers

apple-455436_1920There are bad apples no matter where you go, and there are some pretty unscrupulous reviewers out there that make things worse for everyone involved.   What makes a bad reviewer?  Let me count the ways, literally.

  1. Grabs as many free items as possible with no real discernment, the end goal being only as many freebies as possible and the review is an afterthought, if a review is left at all.  These are greedy people, looking to “game” the system.
  2. Does not take item out of package, does not use item, but somehow is able to leave a review.  Miraculous.
  3. Reviews all items as 5 star, and will say it is the best item ever.
  4. Copy and pastes the same review over multiple items in an effort to save time, or reviews the same item multiple times with different accounts.
  5. Leaves a one sentence (or in some cases a one word) review.
  6. Does not review item, so much as copy and paste the item description from the manufacturer as the review (complete with a 5 star rating, of course.)
  7. Plagiarizes other reviews, word for word.
  8. Reviewer receives cash to review, thereby making them a paid shill.
  9. Writes reviews for items they never even received, for monetary compensation.
  10. Down-votes other product reviews at the request of unscrupulous sellers.

How does this harm the reviewing world in general?  If the average person shopping online runs into these fake reviews they very well may get the impression that all product reviewers who get product for free are of the same ilk.   I have gotten many nasty comments on reviews I have done for free product.  They all sound somewhat the same “Your review is fake” or “You can’t be honest when you get a free product” (some are worded a bit more colorfully than that).  My reviews are thoughtfully written, but these people obviously have formed their opinions based on a few bad apples and then apply that opinion broadly for all reviewers.  Is it fair?  No.   Is that how the world works?  Yes.   It only takes a few crappy reviewers to ruin it for everyone – be it buyer, honest seller or other reviewers.

There is already a large contingent of people crying foul about reviewers receiving free product, and I agree they have a point in a lot of instances.  They feel that some of the products that have massive amounts of glowing reviews from professional reviewers are  corrupting the buyer experience, and making reviews less valuable as a tool of discernment.   Let’s be honest, if I see a product has 100 reviews and all of them are in exchange for free product, and all of them seem to be 5 stars; I get suspicious.  So should everyone.   That isn’t how reality works.   Even the best products would naturally have some bad reviews.

I don’t know what the future will hold, but Amazon (or any other online entity) can’t continue to let poor reviewers keep on reviewing en mass forever without losing the customer’s trust in the review system.  Eventually I believe they will have to crack down on habitually bad reviewers, or sellers that seek out these kinds of reviewers.    I don’t pretend to know how anyone can police it, but my gut says that someday change will have to occur.

Check out my blog archives!

Review rank stuck

Amazon9/25/16 – To anyone who tracks it, Amazon’s review ranking has stalled out for what seems like a couple months now, maybe more.   This isn’t necessarily unusual, they have never updated them consistently.  Sometimes it’s been every few days, or once a week.   Sometimes a few times a month.   This is quite a long time they have gone without updates though.

I’m stuck perpetually at 234, so in reality I could actually be lower than that or higher than that.   There is always a lot of speculation when Amazon neglects to update rankings.  Could it be they are retooling their algorithm that determines rank?  Could they be purging more reviewers for violating the TOS?  Did they fire the guy who updates ranks and didn’t rehire someone new?  It’s all speculation and no one really knows.

We just have to be patient.   Chances are when it does update there will be large swings in rank for most people.

 

 

While you wait for your rank to update, check out my archives!

Don’t be a jerk!

jerkTalking to various sellers who offer products to reviewers like me, I have learned that the majority of reviewers are not very good, or courteous.    One person in particular from a Chinese company gave me a very sad statistic.  Only 1 out of 5 people he sends free product to actually leave a review for the product they receive.   This is outrageous, and as angry as this makes me, I’m more disappointed because that stat doesn’t surprise me.  People are becoming greedy, self-entitled and lazy.

I’m amazed that any companies still offer product at all with such poor results.  I’m glad they do, but it may be some day they decide it’s just not worth it because people are jerks.

My humble plea to you, dear reviewer, is this; make sure you review everything you receive and if you can’t, communicate to the seller why.   Be up front, be prompt in your communications, and be a decent human.  Don’t be a jerk.

 

Check out my blog archives here!

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It’s the Mid-Autumn Festival

My inbox of review requests is drastically reduced this week.   Why?  China is having their annual Mid-Autumn Festival and everyone gets several days off for this extravaganza.  This festival’s dates change (kind of like Easter is a floating holiday in the US) so it can happen any time between September 8th and October 7th.  This year it is September 15, 16 and 17th.

It is an occasion for outdoor gatherings among friends and relatives.   Traditionally Chinese will celebrate by eating mooncakes and watching the moon, which is thought of as a symbol of harmony and unity.

From reading the wiki page on mooncakes, I get the feeling these cakes are not unlike the fruitcake tradition we have here around Christmastime.   People give them, but no one actually eats them.

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Posting problems

expect delaysIf you begin to seriously put time and effort into your reviews (I am speaking now about Amazon reviews), and you have started tracking your reviews you will notice that every so often reviews may fail to post in a timely manner.   Amazon reviews are supposed to post within 24-48 hours of submission, and generally they post much quicker than that.   But sometimes it happens that they fail to show up.  What then?   If it has been longer than 48 hours, then at that point you should contact customer service and have them look into the matter.  Be sure to include a link to the product page, and if you have one, your order number.   At that point, then customer service has another 24 hours to get back to you via email.  Most of the time the review posts after that.   There has only been a small number of instances where I have had to contact customer service more than one time for the same review not posting.

Since I have been reviewing for awhile I don’t get overly concerned about a delayed review.  For whatever reason it happens periodically, and it happens to everyone at some point.

 

Take a cheap vacation, visit my sunny blog archives.

Direct ship, coupon code or PayPal?

Shipping_routes_red_blackWhen you review for sellers on Amazon they typically ask to send a coupon code, ship directly, or in some rare instances – ask if they can reimburse you the cost of the item via PayPal.

The most common way sellers use is the coupon code.   It’s the easiest, most hassle-free way for the reviewer (in my opinion) to obtain review products because shipping is typically faster and you can track your orders via Amazon’s website.   The seller generates a code and provides it to the reviewer who then enters the code at checkout, and the discount is applied.    Some caveats; coupon codes sometimes have a ‘start’ and ‘end’ time that they are valid for.   If you use it too early, Amazon will give you the message “the promotion has not yet started”.  If you wait to long, the promo code will expire.   Sometimes the codes register as ‘invalid’.   In that case you have to contact the seller again and ask for a new code.   This happens quite frequently, and I don’t even think twice about it anymore.  Discounts can be any percent off up to 100%.   Discount codes work a lot like gift cards, except that there will not be a larger cash balance associated with the code than the cost of the product.  If there is, that is a huge no-no and a violation of Amazon’s TOS.

I don’t do reviews that will cost me more than $1.00 out of pocket.   I get offered a lot of products at large discounts (70%, 80% and 90% off), but I have never accepted those.  I have made it a personal rule that I only accept 99% and 100% off codes.  I don’t want to go broke just to review items I don’t actually need, so having this rule in place helps me to keep things in check.  There is nothing wrong though, to accept reviews that cost more money if you can swing it – especially if you think you will like product.

The next way that a reviewer can receive product for review from a seller is via direct ship.   This occurs (for me) in about 30% of my interactions.   You will be required to give the seller your address and sometimes your phone number.   At first I was hesitant about giving that information, but now it seems routine and I have never had an issue with it.  The advantage with direct ship is you know you will get the item for free, but you never know for sure when it’s coming unless the seller gives you a tracking number.   It just shows up whenever it shows up- sometimes in a few days and sometimes in a few months, sometimes it never shows up at all!  This is why it’s key to have a good method to track your review items!

The last way is when the seller says they will send money to your PayPal account (or some other method of sending you money).   I have had this offered to me only twice.   The first time I did it, it ended up being kind of a mess.   They were a seller from China, and so the money conversion rate was different, and there were fees taken out… so the money that landed in my PayPal did not cover the cost of the item.   Then they added more money in to cover the shortage but it still didn’t cover the item because the conversion rate was off again.     The second time it was offered to me to use this method, I declined.   It just didn’t feel right even though the cash amount was only to be the amount of the Amazon transaction.   I will never accept another PayPal request, it’s just not for me.   It doesn’t come up a lot anyway, so it won’t present an issue I am sure.

I have only had a seller send me an item unsolicited one time.  It was a pair of earrings.   I have heard (anecdotally) that some reviewers have this happen to them all the time, that companies send their products out unsolicited just hoping they will be reviewed.   That would be kind of cool, but that has not been my experience.  Of course, I don’t publish my address anywhere either, so that may be a factor!

 

Come down to the cellar, check out my blog archives.  Vintage!

Strange requests

Sometimes I get strange requests.   I decided I should start saving these and chronicle them here.   This one arrived this morning and I opted not to reply at all:strange requests

It reads:

Would you willing to help us to avoid fake prodcuts??‏

Hello, my dear friend,

We’re Amazon sellers and would like to establish a business relationship with you if you’re interested.

Currenly we’re suffering lots of sellers using our Brand selling their fake products.

We created the listings in Amazon and our customer usually are very fond of our products.

However, Some other sellers also selling under the same listing using a lower price to attract our customers to buy a different product, which might be  bad quality or a fake one.

To avoid such problem, we need evidence to report them in Amazon, but we cannot buy one from other sellers coz we’re overseas and have no local Amazon account to buy one from them and tes and submit evidence to Amazon.

Would you willing to buy one from other sellers and take some clear pictures and send to us?

We will tranfer the amount thought Paypal so that you could buy it for free.You could just just keep it but take some pictures for us.

How do you think about that??

We really hope you could help us if you’re willing to.
Looking forward to your reply.
Best regards,
Kate

You should have nothing to do with requests like these.   Something is clearly fishy here and although you may be thinking “Hey, this is free stuff and I don’t even have to review it”, it’s best not to involve yourself in something like this.    If and when sellers have real issues on Amazon, they take it up with Amazon directly.  They would not email a random stranger.  This is just common sense.

I am not sure what their end goal is, whether it is to rise in the search rankings at Amazon with lots of verified purchases that don’t show up as discount or review items, or if they are out and out scammers.   It doesn’t matter.  Stay away!

Check out my blog archives, they are totally legit!

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