Amazon hosts millions of different sellers on just one website, making it a hotspot for buyers looking to weigh their options. The one-stop online marketplace allows shoppers to compare reviews for similar products, which generates high competition among sellers who want to come out on top. That’s why some brands go to surprising lengths to make sure they secure good reviews—including taking part in some questionable practices that Amazon is cracking down on. In fact, Amazon just banned three popular brands for apparently violating policies to increase positive reviews. Read on to find out which sellers you now can’t find on the site.
Amazon has removed three different brands from its marketplace, the company confirmed to The Verge on June 17. Products from RavPower, Vava, and TaoTronics are no longer allowed to be sold on Amazon. RavPower is an electronics brand that specializes in charging devices such as power banks and car chargers. Vava and TaoTronics are also electronics-based, with Vava selling dash cams and TaoTronics selling a variety of items from earbuds to mini fridges.
The Wall Street Journal reported on June 13 that RavPower was in violation of Amazon policies. Reporter Nicole nguyen said she received an insert offering a $35 gift card in exchange for a review when she received a RavPower charger she had bought from Amazon. A spokesperson for Amazon told the news outlet that the insert violates the company’s policy.
“Violations to Customer Reviews policies include … a seller [offering] a third party a financial reward, discount, free products, or other compensation in exchange for a review on their product or their competitor’s product,” Amazon states on its customer product reviews policies webpage. According to The Verge, all three brands were seemingly banned for violating this policy.
All three of these brands come from Sunvalley, a Chinese electronics manufacturer that maintains U.S.-facing brands on Amazon. According to Nguyen, the Chinese parent company recently issued a statement, confirming that the brands had been banned from the marketplace on June 16. According to Sunvalley’s statement, the affected Amazon stores account for 31 percent of its revenue, and the manufacturer also suggested that the brands were banned for the gift card-review scheme.
“We want to see how people like it,” Donny Dong, vice president of sales at Sunvalley, explained to the WSJ. He added that the company did not mandate that customers leave five star-reviews in order to claim a gift card.
Amazon customers often rely on reviews when buying products from the marketplace. Unfortunately, many reviews on Amazon might actually be fake. Fakespot Inc., a market monitoring service company, found that around 42 percent of the 720 million reviews it assessed on Amazon’s website from March to Sept. 2020 were fake, Bloomberg reported. And that percentage is rising. The year before, only 36 percent were deemed fake in the same time period.
Amazon disputed this claim, however. “Companies like Fakespot and ReviewMeta that claim to ‘check’ reviews cannot concretely determine the authenticity of a review, as they do not have access to Amazon’s propriety data such as reviewer, seller and product history,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to Bloomberg.