10/5/16 – My inbox was still (Surprisingly? Predictably?) full of review offers from third party sellers on Amazon, which directly violates the updated terms of service they put out the evening of October 3rd.
I responded to every single one of them directing them to the new terms and asking if they were aware of them.
A few sellers mentioned in their emails something to the effect of “because you are a Vine reviewer, we have these products for you to review”. Clearly these persons read the policy and are trying to link themselves (erroneously) to the Vine program to trick people into reviewing against the new terms, or they just don’t understand how Vine works and are only targeting Vine people with their emails assuming that anyone who reviews for Vine can review anything. Both scenarios are against Amazon’s new terms though. And, any real Vine reviewer would not believe they are associated with the Vine program, because Vine items come directly from Amazon with no middleman, and we have a portal we operate through right on the Amazon website, not via an email that gets sent to us.
For those people who emailed me referencing Vine, I took the time to reply to explain why they would still be in violation of the terms of service. Either they made an honest mistake or were trying to be a bit underhanded. It’s not for me to discern, I just passed on the information and left it at that.
I had one seller ask me to buy the product at full price, and then offer to reimburse me fully via PayPal. This too, seems like a violation that would end up getting people banned from Amazon. So, this too I had to decline.
TWO EMERGING REVIEW ROUTES ON AMAZON:
A few coupon clubs sent emails saying they were going to keep operating but not require (or ask for) reviews. Most of their items are purchased at a discount between 95% and 50% off, very few were ever free. I suspect all the free items will evaporate and the discounts will become less. In that way it’s more like a discount sale site. I think that model could work and not be a violation of Amazon’s new TOS. Time will tell with that.
I think the only recourse for individual third party sellers is to directly ship their products to reviewers unsolicited, and hope they will take it upon themselves to review it. I don’t believe that would be a violation of the new terms, since items would not be selected by the reviewer and no review was explicitly requested. How likely is that to happen? Again, time will tell.
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