At some level, we all instinctively trust and put stock in Amazon's customer reviews when researching a purchase. The average star rating matters — and the leading online retailer wants to keep it that way. This week, Amazon filed a lawsuit against several websites that it accuses of gaming the system and publishing paid-for reviews. "While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand," the suit claims. The websites, Amazon says, promise to write bogus five-star reviews for customers that pay between $19 and $22 per review.
We put a lot of trust in those reviews
Amazon is going after numerous websites, according to The Seattle Times, including buyamazonreviews.com, buyazonreviews.com, and others. It's hitting all of them hard, claiming that each is guilty of trademark infringement, false advertising, and disregarding various consumer protection laws. Mark Collins, who runs buyamazonreviews.com, told the Times that he's done nothing wrong and runs a wholly legitimate business. "We are not selling fake reviews," he said. "However, we do provide unbiased and honest reviews on all the products. And this is not illegal at all."
This is the first time Amazon has pursued legal action to protect the integrity of its reviews system. And to be fair, these operations sound pretty shady. Amazon's lawsuit claims that Jay Gentile (owner of buyazonreviews.com) told his customers they could simply ship out empty boxes to trick Amazon into thinking that reviewers were trustworthy, verified buyers. It would seem that's not the case, and now Amazon wants King County Superior Court to stop the websites from using its name and profiting off of dishonest reviews. They'll also have to pay triple fees and cover Amazon's legal expenses if found guilty, according to the Times.