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Awesome Post on the New TOS Changes!

edited October 2015 in General
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.

Posted below:
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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:
  1. 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.

  2. 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.
Example: 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.
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Comments

  • Very interesting with more juicy information than other more speculative posts... While this points to the fact that "free product for reviews" system is still allowed, it does not answer the question of using Super URL, as it maybe interpreted as manipulation of sales rank and they do talk about manipulation of BSR. What is nice is that seems Amazon is targeting something different from what we are doing here... again "seems".

    Thanks, @Travis_Jamison for a great post.
  • As it stands, I believe all my promotions are fine using single promo codes; however I'm still not clear about the Super URL. The super URL is a great tool. Do I have to stop using it? I've read the new TOS and it is not clear. Any thought?
  • loops77loops77
    edited August 2015
    Did Ilovetoreview ask directly about superurls though? I'm sure he didn't...

    It seems like the original message was clear, but we sellers were hoping for a different interpretation. I'm trying to think of a reason why a seller would give several coupon codes to one person and I can't think of a good reason. Sounds like maybe Amazon is backtracking a little? Not sure. As of now, 4 sellers have been suspended for "overuse of coupon codes" from third party sources. No one has directly said "hey I was banned for using too many coupon codes".

    Anyway, I'm still going to use Amztracker for reviews through superurls.
  • sophieosophieo
    edited August 2015
    I read that you should stay away from review services in which the seller chooses the reviewer as this would be deemed by Amazon to be biased as you could choose only 5 star reviewers?
  • Hmm, it's know fact that a lot of Amazon terms and guidelines contradict within itself.. So only time will tell how this new updated TOS will affect sellers promotional campaigns. I will keep an open mind on this.
  • By any chance to you know if those 4 suspended sellers sending out coupons for FBA or FBM products?

    We all know it is possible to send out 100% off coupon code for FBM product and mark it shipped without actually shipping anything. Not something I would ever engage in but I can imagine there are people who would.

    Also I actually listened to SellerLabs webinar and it seems the biggest issue with super URLS is that they dynamically change qid value in the link.

    So we could use new No Link functionality and provide potential reviewer with specific instructions or search for the product ourselves and email that link to the reviewer.

    I just created promo for one of the products I am marketing and used new "no link" option. Will see how it works.

    L

    PS the more i think about it the more I am leaning towards conclusion that all these new Amazon's policies (unofficial $1 minimum charge, weighted sales rank based on how many people found the review useful and prohibiting excessive use of coupons) may be tied to the lawsuit that amazon filed against buyamazonreviews.com
  • nfarrar said:

    As it stands, I believe all my promotions are fine using single promo codes; however I'm still not clear about the Super URL. The super URL is a great tool. Do I have to stop using it? I've read the new TOS and it is not clear. Any thought?

    If you are not sure if you should use it, then ask Amazon. Get on with them. Show them the tool and ask them. The worst they will say is NO, don't use it.
  • Can someone please send a link where this can be found, the full TOS

    Thanks
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