This is a great post from ilovetoreview
explaining the new Amazon TOS changes (tl;dr, don't worry!).
This is more or less my direct thoughts as well. This just isn't going to go against anything we do. The review club is completely within the TOS.
As most of you know, over this past weekend of 8/22, Amazon.com quietly updated their terms of service in regards to Prohibited Seller Activities specifically around manipulating sales rank.
The update has caused lots of conversation and even more speculation as to what it means. Both are understandable as the added sections are vague and very open to interpretation.
As a service provider working with hundreds of sellers from all over the world, we have been thoughtful this week and didn’t want to publish our interpretation of the new terms of service until we had enough confirming points of data. However, we now have 5 different seller support conversations (phone calls and emails) saying the exact same thing. Literally, exactly the same thing…and it’s vastly different from most of the stories circulating.
Even with that and what we will share here, we still encourage you to do your own due diligence and determine what is best for your business. The TOS Updates
The line that was added and has caused most the controversy is outlined in red.
Providing products for free or at a discount in exchange for an unbiased review is a core part of many seller’s business strategy and this new line has caused many sellers to believe that is no longer within the rules.
However, if you look above the red box, you’ll see the rules a seller needs to follow when providing a product in exchange for an unbiased review.
Nothing in the new update changes that.
Regardless of what you have heard, providing products for free or at a discount in exchange for a review is within TOS and encouraged by Amazon. (see screenshot below)
The question everyone has had was about the word “excessive.” I’ll get to that in a minute.
The 2nd update of the TOS is in this next red box is entitled “Misuse of Sales Rank.”
There is a lot packed into this one. For the most part, this paragraph is pretty clear.
You should definitely check your headline, bullet points and descriptions to make sure you aren’t using phrases like “Best Selling,” “#1 Rated,” or anything like that.
The rest of this paragraph is pretty straightforward.
The Seller Support Conversations
We haven’t taken this news lightly. On Monday, we sent the updated TOS to all of our clients so they were informed. While we were gathering information and clarity from Amazon, we also required a written re-confirmation from our clients in order to run a campaign.
On Monday, the feedback from Seller Support was all over the board. No one gave the same answer.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, a unified story started to emerge. I personally have had phone conversations with 3 different Supervisors. We have also been forwarded multiple emails from our clients with their support tickets.
This is their story.Sellers are doing 2 things Amazon wants to eliminate:
- When providing a product in exchange for a review – some sellers are providing additional products (same or different) to try and turn negative reviews to positive. This is manipulation of both the review and potentially of sales rank.
- When providing a product in exchange fro a review – some sellers are providing many additional claim code coupons to that same person in order to manipulate sales rank.
: A buyer agrees to provide an unbiased review for your product, you provide them 20 discount codes. The buyer get 20 units of the same product, while they only can leave 1 review, the additional or “excessive” units manipulate sales rank.
I literally was given this exact same example from 3 different Supervisors and again through two of our clients.
I asked Support specifically if I could run a promotion of however many units I wanted to give away in exchange for unbiased reviews and was clearly told that I could.
The screenshot above is Amazon’s written response to my question about running larger promotional campaigns.
In their words, the word “excessive” in the new line in the TOS refers to “excessive number of units to the same person.”
Does that make it true?
It’s Amazon, so only time will tell. Everyone knows you can get a variety of answers from different people. Amazon is still growing as a company and like any large company, the human factor is at play.
We really encourage you to do your own homework. Call seller support and have a specific conversation with them about what your plans are for promotions.