Amazon sellers are begging people to delete negative reviews and offering to double refunds if they do, a report says

Jeff Bezos wearing a tan suit and pointing against a light-blue background.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chair. AP Photo/Charles Krupa
  • Some Amazon sellers beg people who leave bad reviews to take them down, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • They ask customers to delete reviews and offer refunds worth more than the product, the report said.
  • Sellers contacting customers outside Amazon’s systems is against the company’s rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some Amazon sellers are tracking down customers who leave bad reviews and begging them to remove their posts, sometimes offering them refunds worth more than the item, The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Nguyen reported on Sunday.

Nguyen spoke to an Amazon customer named Katherine Scott, who in March bought a cooking-oil spray bottle with a 4.5-star rating. The bottle arrived, but it squirted a stream of oil rather than spraying it, Scott said, so she left a negative review on Amazon.

A week later, a person claiming to work for the brand that made the spray bottle emailed her offering a full refund and asking her to remove the review.

The email also said that if Scott didn’t reply, the company would assume she hadn’t seen the email and would keep contacting her.

When Scott asked to have the refund but to keep her review live, the company said it would repay her twice the item’s value if she deleted the review.

“A bad review is a fatal blow to us,” the email said, according to The Journal. The newspaper said it reviewed the emails.

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Scott said the company emailed her about the review for months, most recently in July. Scott flagged the issue to Amazon, but it wasn’t until Nguyen contacted Amazon for her reporting that the listing was deleted, the report said.

Another Amazon customer, Ben Hendin, told Nguyen he received a similar offer after he left a bad review for a finger splint. The seller offered him a $US40 ($AU54) refund for the $US17 ($AU23) splint, according to The Journal.

Nguyen found references to similar seller tactics in the reviews under oil spray bottles on Amazon. “Seller offers $US20 ($AU27)-$US30 ($AU41) to delete negative reviews,” said one review Nguyen found. Another said, “Product doesn’t work and company will bother you till you change review.”

It’s not entirely clear how these sellers track down the customers or how widespread the problem is. Amazon forbids sellers from contacting customers outside its own messaging service.

In April, the company stopped including customers’ names and mailing addresses in its reports to third-party sellers. One former Amazon employee told Nguyen that sellers used third-party tools to match customers’ shipping information with email addresses, even though this violates Amazon’s rules.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Journal: “Amazon provides a great deal of help content, proactive coaching, warnings and other assistance to sellers to ensure they remain compliant with our clearly stated policies. 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.”

The spokesperson added that bad actors made up a “tiny fraction” of activity on Amazon.

Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.