Behind the Prime is my new series where I want to expose you to the dark side of Amazon. These posts will do everything from talk about the dirty review tactics being used, to telling you how to protect yourself and shop smarter, to exposing the brands who are doing this. When so many people Google these Amazon brands for research, all they get are bought and paid for shill blog posts raving about how awesome they are (after being paid to say so) – I want Google to start returning search results that show the truth about how these companies are approaching people. I’ll join the blackmarket communities, get myself on the underground mailing lists, and show you the dark side of Amazon Marketplace.
I haven’t even finished writing my article about Soundpeats trying to bribe me for reviews, before I already ended up on their underground mailing list for Muson – a sister company to Soundpeats!
I woke up this morning to this kind email from Ivy, who offered up some [junk] products that I could buy (from my own money), leave them great reviews for on Amazon, and then have my money slid back into my PayPal like we never did any sort of illegal review manipulation in the first place!
I replied back to Ivy with the goal of stringing her along and getting as much information from this offer as I could without actually accepting. As I say time and time again, I have no desire to tarnish the reputation of my lifelong personal Amazon account for these reviews. I string them along as far as I can to get information to publish here, and then leave the decision with you folks as to whether you want to support unethical and manipulative companies like this or not!
It didn’t take long to hear back with their list of requests! So we start by searching some keywords, a common tactic for these companies to ask “reviewers” to help inflate the ratio of people who search, and then buy, their products on Amazon. This helps their product placement in search results in a very illegitimate and dishonest way. Then I buy the product from them like a normal customer – wait, isn’t this a “review” ask from them? Technically (and legally) I should be being given the product for evaluation. But wait! Then I sent them my order details and PayPal details. Now, I write my review for them, and only then will I get my PayPal return once it’s published. It’s well known that if I weren’t to give a favorable review here that my money would simply be used as a bargaining chip and held hostage until they get the five stars they obviously want here.
There you have it. The Muson product pages on Amazon Canada are already being littered with five star reviews just in the few days it took me to wait for the email reply and type up this piece! The usual tell is that these reviews all contain very nicely staged photos of the products (well beyond what any normal Amazon reviewer would do who maybe includes one or two photos every so many reviews), and they just ramble on and on (these slimy sellers typically ask for so many words or paragraphs – does that help inflate their ranking somehow? I don’t know). Sometimes the reviews hardly even talk about the product at all, as people take free things they don’t even know how to use and just ramble out some five stars for their free product to sell on Marketplace later.
I’ve done the baiting here, now you can do your own decision making. Are you going to support a company like Muson who will use scam PayPal bought reviews to make their products seem better than they and to sway your hard earned money into buying their product ahead of a more ethical brand?