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Amazon: No More Incentivized Reviews

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Heads up Amazon shoppers!

Have you ever been shopping on Amazon and clicked to read the 5-star product reviews only to find that many reviewers received the product FREE in exchange for an honest and unbiased review? As of October 3rd, Amazon announced that they are now prohibiting incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program (see details on this program below).


Hopefully, this means that reviews now left on Amazon will be from customers who purchased the product and are leaving an honest review – not from customers who received the product FREE or by businesses who pay for fake reviews. Please note that product reviews made prior to this policy change are only being retroactively removed if they are excessive and donโ€™t comply with Amazon’s prior policy.

*Go here for more details regarding this policy change.

What is Amazon Vine?

Amazon Vine is an invitation-only program. Vine Voices are selected based on several criteria, but primarily on the helpfulness of their reviews as judged by all other customers and by their demonstrated interest in the types of products that are featured in the program. Customers who consistently write helpful reviews and develop a reputation for expertise in specific product categories are most likely to be invited into the program.

Join The Discussion

Comments 137

  1. Trish

    It’s sad hearing all the time that everyone fakes their reviews and “oh yeah right unbiased and honest reviews”. I have been a reviewer for about 7 months and if I didn’t like a product it got a 1 star review. It is not said anywhere that we must leave a 5 star review in exchange for the discount like people seem to believe. We are also not paid to leave a good review, we are simply given a discount to test it and review it honestly. The people who think otherwise is the reason for the change which has screwed people like me who relied on these sites to get things we need that we otherwise can’t afford. I tested every product before reviewing it honestly and just having that disclaimer does not change the fact that it was my honest opinion.

    • RD

      Right there with you Trish – Honest, unbiased review is what I left – if I liked it or if I didn’t. I agree that some of the products, unless able to purchase at a discount, I wouldn’t be able to afford them either.

      • Trish

        Guess we’re part of the select few lol but glad to see someone who agrees!

    • Georgia

      Exactly! I love getting good to try new products for free and I’m very sad that this is going away. I usually only accepted the product free if I needed it or would use it but regardless I ALWAYS left home estate feedback. If it was a terrible product I reviewed it as such.

      • Trish

        I agree, very sad :/ There are always complainers who ruin it for everybody.

    • Ang

      same, but i have received products before oct 3rd to test out and now i need to review them. does this mean i dont have to now? im so confused.

      • Joanna

        You still do the review. The difference is that you’re no longer required to include the “I got this product at a discount in exchange for my review” disclaimer. So now people have no way to know whether you got the product at a discount in exchange for your review. At least that’s how I understand it, based on feedback from the product group I follow.

  2. meme3


  3. Mary Wilson

    I am part of a group and was HIGHLY disappointed by the “excellent” reviews given regarding a specific product. The product did NOT perform as other reviewers stated, which is sad. The product that we received was a “thank you” for going into the field and rating a specific service. Once we had done that and completed other tasks, they sent us an item. They did ask us to let them know what we thought of the product. It retailed for $100 – I wouldn’t have given $10 for it. I use it for another purpose – which it suits that purpose VERY WELL ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, I’m still very disappointed in the fact that people lied about the experience using the item. I had used it in the same exact ways and did not even have the same outcome. Ok, a lousy pillow! Anyway, it did not do as was stated it would do – I use it as a body pillow instead of for my head. Long story short, in a way, you really can’t rely on online reviews NOR reviews collected from some sort of store front business – either people will exaggerate the truth or lie BIG TIME ๐Ÿ™ Best bet is to hopefully no of someone whom has used something that you are interested in or have a friend whom can way in on it. Some people think that good reviews garners them MORE freebies – don’t know about that, I just know that I can’t lie about a product – even when I’m selling something for someone else – if I don’t like it, I’ll tell you.

  4. Mary Wilson

    There is one other thing to think about – it costs money to give this stuff away – even if it’s at 10 to 20% of the regular retail prices. I like free stuff, BUT, if I can’t get it and I really want it, I’ll come up with a way to get it at a better price or just say forget it – because, usually, that kind of stuff isn’t necessary in my household. That incentive program was nice while it lasted.

  5. Aileen G

    How have so many people signed up with these companies for free stuff? Like I’ve never heard of any of these companies or seen any articles about them?

  6. Melissa

    Thank god! I never trust those reviews. They seemed more like spam than honest reviews.

    • Trish

      Mine are always honest, if it stinks it gets a bad review. I type it all myself, not spam.

  7. Carol_R

    While some of the reviewers may give honest and unbiased reviews, I totally discount any reviews that are not from people that actually purchased the product. And I recently reviewed a product that have a ton of the Vines reviews on it and decided not to purchase it because of that. I consider them fake reviews.

    • Mouni

      completely agree!

    • Nicole

      I agree with you Carol. Although some reviewers might leave an honest opinion, I think a lot are swayed to give positive feedback in order to keep getting freebies. I disregard those comments from people who have received a product at a “free or discounted price for their honest opinion”.

  8. MommaV

    I was never part of a group but left a negative review about a product. It was a fake lifeproof case and did not even come with the features mentioned. Amazon contacted me and offered me a credit to my account to delete my review. They would only credit my account once they confirmed it was deleted and told me then locked me out from entering anymore reviews about that product. So it doesn’t matter if people are being paid for good reviews because Amazon will fix it themselves.

    • mary

      Wow, that is messed up

      • Mandee

        I left a positive review for some Bluetooth headphones then updated my review to 1 star after they broke within a month & customer service refused to help me. Amazon pulled my review & threatened to kill my account the day after I left the review. Not cool Amazon! They were writing to me in a bullying way, I was a bit surprised. I haven’t purchased from them since. I’ll take my money elsewhere ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ

    • Happymama

      wow! I’ll stop trusting Amazon reviews if they are fixed like that.

    • Kim Hatton


    • Mouni

      Was it Amazon that asked you or a third party seller? I never experienced this with Amazon.

  9. Mouni

    I am so glad to hear this! We’ve been raising concerns about this problem for a while. I’ve been burned so many times by these fake reviews that i’ve come not to trust Amazon reviews anymore and not bother searching for products on their site. It was really hurting Amazon’s credibility. Whenever I searched for a product I would get these new products that had thousands of reviews from people who received it for free and when I buy it I realize that it’s absolute junk! The better products get drowned by junk from these greedy companies looking for a quick buck who instead of working on a making a good products they prefer to bribe people in order to get good reviews. I’m not saying all those companies are like that but I prefer to read unbiased reviews from people who actually paid for their product.

  10. Joe

    Don’t let these people fool you. If you write to much of the truth then you start getting shipped less and less stuff for free. Seeing just about all of them said they depend on the discounts and free products shoes bias. If they want ppl to test products for free then label their reviews.

  11. Katrina Weiss

    Does this include book reviews? If I get a free book on Goodreads or a site like that, can I still rate it on Amazon as long as I say I got it for free?

  12. Joanna

    The review group I have followed for a while sent out an email today stating they’re still offering the discounted items service but that you’re no longer required to include the “I received a discount in exchange for a review” statement in your review. So the scenario will probably still happen, since there’s no indication they plan to stop providing discounted products in exchange for reviews. Those reviews just won’t be required to “identify themselves” like they once were, which doesn’t exactly solve any problems at all.

  13. Lisa

    You can go to the website Fake Spot and enter the amazon address for a specific product (copy/past the address). It will tell you the probability of fake/honest reviews. Not foolproof of course, but it has changed my mind a few time.

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