Remember when gadget vendors Aukey, Mpow, RavPower, Vava, TaoTronics and Choetech started mysteriously disappearing from Amazon’s online storefront, and it turned out Amazon had intentionally yanked them while vaguely gesturing to the sanctity of its user reviews? Turns out they were just the tip of the iceberg. Amazon has now permanently banned over 600 Chinese brands across 3,000 different seller accounts, the company confirms to The Verge.
Amazon says that’s the grand tally after five months of its global crackdown, and it’s no longer being shy about why: a spokesperson tells us these 600 brands were banned for knowingly, repeatedly and significantly violating Amazon’s policies, especially the ones around review abuse.
The South China Morning Post reported the numbers earlier, citing an interview with an Amazon Asia VP on state-owned television.
Amazon’s crackdown began amidst reporting by The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Ngyuen about how companies like RavPower offered gift cards in exchange for reviews.
I’ve been collecting cards like this as well. Amazon banned the practice of incentivized reviews in 2016, but it’s a tricky business: some of these offers are disguised as a VIP testing program or an extended warranty. Other companies only offer incentives after you’ve left a bad review — they’ll give you a free product or offer a “refund” of free money, no return required, as long as you’ll delete your negative review.
Banned brands are slipping through
It’s not clear which other Chinese brands might be included in Amazon’s latest crackdown — and it’s quite possible some of their products will escape Amazon’s net. Even though Aukey was one of the first high-profile companies to get banned in May, the company was still selling earbuds under a sub-brand as of July, and you can still buy a pair of them on Amazon even today. I also found a Choetech wireless charging pad, and a RavPower battery. We’ve asked Amazon to explain its policies around ban dodging, and we’ll let you know what we hear.
In early July, the parent company of Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology (more commonly known as YKS) reported that Amazon had closed 340 of YKS’s online stores and frozen over $20 million worth of its assets, according to the South China Morning Post. The publication described YKS as one of the platform’s largest Chinese retailers.
Here’s Amazon’s full statement:
Amazon works hard to build a great experience in our store so that customers can shop with confidence and sellers have the opportunity to grow their business amid healthy competition. Customers rely on the accuracy and authenticity of product reviews to make informed purchasing decisions and we have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features. We suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies, wherever they are in the world.
We will continue to improve abuse detection and take enforcement action against bad actors, including those that knowingly engage in multiple and repeated policy violations, including review abuse. We are confident that the steps we take are in the best interests of our customers as well as the honest businesses that make up the vast majority of our global selling community.