• Holly Sloan

Major Amazon clampdown on fake reviews

Amazon’s clampdown on the practise of fake reviews has reached a new level with the closure of 50,000 stores operating in the “made in China, sold on Amazon” market.

The move has led to a group of more than 20 mid-sized and large companies considering legal action, although that has not yet materialised, with the group unable to reach an agreement about their strategy. The main issue for companies has been that not only has Amazon removed them from the platform, but they have held their goods and capital.

Hannah Zhang, a London-based lawyer at Intelink is representing one seller that is contesting the suspensions and told the South China Morning Post: “Amazon required that the frozen funds be held up for 90 days, which completely paralyses the operation of my client’s business.”

The crackdown on review abuse and other violations has hit some of the most well-known Chinese sellers. Since May, the company has banned some of the biggest Chinese brands on the platform, including Aukey, Mpow and 340 stores owned by Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology Co.

The move has made national news in China and prompted take of government help and intervention. Recently Li Xingqian, the director of the Foreign Trade Department at the Ministry of Commerce, said the cross-border e-commerce industry is “going through some growing pains” as a result of Amazon’s decision, but added that China would help its companies comply with international standards and protect their “legitimate rights and interests”.

In a statement in June, Amazon said that well-known sellers had been removed for “review abuse”.

Shenzhen-based Sunvalley revealed then that three of its brands – RAVPower power banks, Taotronics earphones and VAVA cameras - were suspended for offering gift cards to customers willing to write positive reviews about their purchases.

But while back then, negotiations took place to allow shops to have their stores restored after making changes and paying fines, early suggestions are that Amazon is handling these new cases more firmly.

Thompson and Holt senior case manager Holly Sloan says the move underlines Amazon’s growing desire to stop fake and manipulated reviews on the site. She said: “We have long spoken at Thompson and Holt about Amazon’s approach to this practise, and how they are consistently stepping up their processes to stop it.

“This is the latest, and arguably strongest, move in this policy. By taking on some of the best known Chinese sellers in America, knowing that it could potentially have an impact at government level, Amazon is making a statement. If anybody was under any illusions that they will just allow fake and manipulated reviews to continue as a practise on the site, that should now be shattered.

“Whether a legal case from the group of sellers materialises will be interesting to watch - the freezing of assets and funds is another major move in all of this. But the bottom line is that Amazon is determined to stamp out this practise as far as is possible.”

Worried about an Amazon suspension?

If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.

Thompson and Holt are also offering a free month’s trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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