Offer for an Amazon Gift Card in Exchange for Review
October 7th, 2020
Companies are understandably hesitant to admit when they’ve compensated customers to write positive reviews. However, under FTC law, companies have no choice. If they want to use incentivized reviews in their marketing, they need to ensure that whatever they did to obtain the review that might affect its credibility is adequately disclosed to consumers making purchasing decisions.
Which brings us to a postcard a TINA.org staffer recently received from an Amazon seller from whom she purchased a highly rated electric kettle weeks earlier. The offer couldn’t have been any clearer: Write a review on Amazon and receive a $15 Amazon gift card.
While the seller did not stipulate in the instructions (see below) that the review must be positive, the steps to redeem the gift card showed five yellow stars as an example of a star rating our staffer might want to consider leaving.
Nothing in the instructions said she had to reveal in the review that the reason she wrote it was to receive an Amazon gift card. In fact, on the other side of the postcard, the seller advised her not to include a photo of the card in the review:
Attention: For your account security, please don’t attach this picture card when you leave product review.
But there’s another reason that the Amazon seller may have wanted to keep its “picture card” from public view: Amazon prohibits sellers from offering customers “compensation of any kind” in exchange for writing reviews, regardless of whether or not the incentive for posting is disclosed.
“We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant,” an Amazon spokesperson said in response to an inquiry by TINA.org. “We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features, and we suspend, ban and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”
TINA.org has passed along the Amazon seller’s information. The seller, Dreamy_MRD, did not respond to a TINA.org request for comment.
Check back for updates.
Find more of our coverage on reviews here.