Blacklisted by Amazon


Amazon have blacklisted me. I am no longer able to review on their site. As they don’t reply to my many emails asking for clarification I am posting it here.

Over the last few months, year maybe, I have been becoming more aware of how important it is for authors to get good reviews. Especially authors who are self-published and lower down the rankings. So I have been more proactive about writing reviews on Amazon, and generally rate things positively. Possibly too positively! At the same time I have realised that many authors have newsletters and by signing up you get free books. So I’ve signed up for a few for authors I like and then reviewed those books on Amazon. Of course these are books that I didn’t purchase through Amazon.

I’ve also corresponded with a few authors and been sent a few Advance Review Copies to tie in with the publication of new books. Which I’ve then reviewed soon after they were published. In order to be honest I have, for most of them, stated in the review that I got a free copy.

Screenshot_20171030-215227

And then I started being unable to review. Three times in the last three months I’ve tried to review something and got the following error message

I get this error message whatever I try to review, and across multiple Amazon sites. It is impossible for me to have previously reviewed everything they sell, and also for me to have a biased relationship with everyone on the site. NB This error message says only that my (non-existent) review of that item was in violation of their guidelines, not that there were issues with my reviews of other unrelated items.

I have contacted Amazon asking for clarification, but the first two times only received an email back saying sorry for the inconvenience we have reinstated your reviewing ability. No explanation about why. The third time I got the following email:

Hello,

We have determined that you have violated our Customer Review Creation Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post reviews on Amazon.com.

We made this decision after carefully considering your reviewing account. This decision is final.

Review Moderator Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com

I’ve looked a number of times through their guidelines and don’t understand how what I wrote was in violation of that. So I replied as follows:

Many thanks for informing me of this. I accept your decision, but I would like to understand why. Each time I have had my reviewing ability suspended I have asked why, as I didn’t want to be blocked again, and this has never been answered.

Have I written too many reviews?

Too many of books that I didn’t purchase through Amazon?

Given too many five stars?

I know some of my reviews were for books that I had been gifted by the author. As it says in your guidelines:

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

When I have reviewed these books I have stated that it was a book I received for free, as I believe in being open and up-front. I understood that this was best practise and what you recommended. Maybe I should have hidden that fact. Would that have meant I wouldn’t have got blocked? I have been in no way required to post these reviews – I have done it of my own free will to appreciate authors whose books I have enjoyed.

I know you are trying to crack down on fake reviews, and I understand why, but the use of ARC has a very long history in the publishing industry (I have previously reviewed for Reference Reviews). If you have indeed banned me from reviewing because I admitted to having got books for free, it seems that you are holding me to a standard not described in your guidelines.

As I said at the beginning I am not asking you to change your decision, just to explain exactly what I have done that is against your guidelines.

Yours sincerely,

Clarissa Gosling

If they have banned me because I included in my reviews that I was given a copy of the book then I feel really pissed off. I was trying to do what I thought was the right thing in the situation and I feel like I am being punished for being honest.

I sent this nearly a month ago and have followed up once. I haven’t had a reply.

But I am now using Kobo.

44 thoughts on “Blacklisted by Amazon

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  1. You have pinpointed the frustration of dealing with the monoliths of the 21st century: Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. There is really no way to reach a human being, or no easy way and no clear guidance on the topic. During the 2016 election fracas–Russian fake ads, etc.–I somehow got “botted” on FB. Long story for a simple comment I made “I like Bernie” (I’m not combative on social media). It wrecked my feed entirely–no more posts from people I had become friendly with over several years–only the posts of about half a dozen strangers. I am just now beginning to get it straightened out (I think), but there has been no friendly FB person to help.

    I can only say that I hope, in time, Amazon’s algorithms recognize the errors of their ways, and readmit you. Have you thought about “starting over” with your account there? If it’s a glitch, beginning again might straighten it out.

    1. Glad to hear you’ve got FB sorted out again. You’re right that it’s frustrating to feel like there’s not a real person at the other end. And yes I could easily set up another account, I’m just not sure I can be bothered!

  2. That is extremely frustrating! While trying to kill fake reviews, they are killing legit reviews … yet there are pirated e-books running amok.

  3. “We have determined that you have violated our Customer Review Creation Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post reviews on Amazon.com.”

    Amazon is sending this to more and more users, and the crazy part is they offer no proof, no justification and no ability to dispute it if it is a mistake. Users who can prove that they are not in violation have no recourse, they are attacked by Amazon for no reason and that’s that.

    1. It’s sad really that they’re cracking down on innocent users – buyers and authors – while letting the real scams through

  4. I just got this email today from AMAZON ….
    Hello,

    We have determined that you have violated our Customer Review Creation Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post reviews on Amazon.com.

    We made this decision after carefully considering your reviewing account. This decision is final.

    We cannot share any further information about our decision, and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

    Review Moderator Amazon.com
    http://www.amazon.com

    Strange as I was unable to post reviews in the New Year, but had over 297 helpful votes for my past reviews from 2007,.. I sent this email a day ago which triggered the above email

    Send my unable to post review request to technical department and have someone call me from the USA side of AMAZON operations, as I had made several attempt in calling AMAZON but was always transferred overseas to costumer care handing orders. Not the correct people to be talking too…

    So I am in the dark on what happen as I have never received any warnings and I have bought and paid for all the items that I have ever ordered since 2007


  5. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsWell I just got it… Darn, darn, darn.. I spent hours writing stupid reviews to help others. Amazon should love me for thas. And they won’t even explain why I was axed. I mean really they could have given me a warning or something first.
    Unbelievable! They’re all about customer service. Well where in the heck is the customers service now? I am a good customer (spent thousands) so provide me with a reason. Really who’s idea was this? Does anybody with any reasonable authority at Amazon no what’s going on? Everyone should get together and send a request saying we want answers. They say there is power in numbers.

    1. Sorry to hear it Mark. Given their lack of ability to respond to authors complaining about the problems with page reads in KU I doubt they’ll care but if you create a lobbying group let me know. For now I’m trying not to buy things from them!

  6. I just found your posting & sad to say the same thing happened to me. Unbelievable! I am so angry about how they handled this. I didn’t do anything either to warrant this. Plus Amazon doesn’t allow me to read community questions or answers. I spoke to their “support” several times which is totally useless. What is so wrong with providing a warning & or explanation? Disgraceful.

  7. Clarissa, thanks for posting & sharing your comments. I really appreciate it. I didn’t find much on the web about this subject of their treatment of ‘loyal’ customers with years of good standing. I was never given a warning or any reason which is absolutely uncalled for by their computerized generic generated emails. Since I am physically disabled I am a constant buyer on Amazon for the past 18 years (since 2000 – spending thousands of dollars) and have loved their service. I have no idea what I did wrong if any. This automated message I received from them was so unpleasant to say the least especially as they wrote “this decision is final” – wow.
    Good luck to you all.
    Thanks again.

    1. They seem to be relying on their size to keep going and don’t care about individuals. Sorry to hear you’re going through it too. There are other online retailers – I think that’s the only way to hurt them!

  8. Yup. It just happened to me too. There are a number of ways for Amazon to make the determination. I figured out many of them, but mainly it’s most likely from a product manufacturer that didn’t like an unfavorable review that you did of their product. I have been an Amazon customer since 2000, with over 1,000 reviews, with almost 5,000 total votes. I’ve been so proud of my work on Amazon reviews that I’ve included it as part of my resume. Now this!? I can see them possibly removing a review or two, but not blocking me and wiping out all my reviews. I’m working on a post entitled “How to break up with Amazon”, because they will be getting minimal business from me from now on.

    1. Sorry to hear it happened to you too. For me I don’t think I’ve posted a review there with less than 4 stars, so I doubt that’s why they blocked me. Please come back and post your blog link when you’ve written it as I’d be interested to read it. Thanks

      1. I will do that. Thanks Clarissa. I honestly think that users need some type of Class action legal representation to protect the content that they’ve created. Looking forward to following along on your blog also.


      2. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsIt’s not about the quality of the product or he number of Stars it’s because they say you have a close relationship with the author or seller of whatever if you get something free even if you are not required to review it to get it . It’s the point it was free so therefore your review , according to whoever this community is I suppose …their handpicked reviewers ,was a lie because of that. That’s it you can’t even ask a question about a product either because you’re not in good standing with the community.

      3. Yes, the rules are slightly different for books, as publishers have always given away copies for free in order to generate reviews, but in general don’t review anything you got given for free!

  9. Hi Jim, I feel for you also since for no reason all my reviews were removed, etc. I did nothing wrong – I was always careful & mindful to do the correct thing. Amazon is powerful & especially now. Money talks. “Their revenue jumped 38 percent year-over-year. Its North America revenue jumped 42 percent to $37 billion.” Looking forward to your new posts.

    1. Thanks Judi. There is really little we can do with the exception of shopping elsewhere. It’s a process of extricating from Amazon if you’ve been a long customer like us. Gotta start somewhere, and that is mainly Walmart and Target, as they will have the resources to at least compete with free delivery and they are experimenting with in store pick up. The next level is really figuring out an alternative to their digital products. Music, movies and any digital or audio books. Finally, if you have an Amazon branded credit card it’s wise to get rid of that. I’m sure if they looked a little deeper this could be resolved, but the reality is they have more reviewers and more customers to replace us. Shopping and contributing elsewhere is the main course of action.

  10. This happened to me too with no warning whatsoever, and I have no idea what I did to “violate” their review policies. I definitely didn’t do any of the things that were listed in the email (which btw I didn’t get any communication or notification that my review privileges were gone at all until I contacted customer support after finding out the hard way).

    Here are the stipulations they sent in the email that they said would result in banning, though I have not done any of the following things:
    — Elements of your account indicate a relationship to sellers, publishers, or other reviewers of the products you review.
    — Your reviews were posted in exchange for compensation, such as gift cards to purchase the product, product refunds, review swaps, or free or discounted products.
    — You requested free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

    That said, I think one of my latest reviews was reviewing the 20th Anniversary “re-release” of the Tamagotchi toy that came out in the past year, and I probably mentioned that it is a stripped-down version that isn’t actually the same as the original (this is a fact), and that if you are one of those disappointed by the “re-release” (there were many disappointed reviews) and wanted the original you should head over to eBay or another site to find one (Amazon doesn’t sell the original models, as they’re vintage items).

    I can imagine that this is the review that got me blacklisted from reviewing on Amazon. How dare I even MENTION their rival competitor (eBay). What a joke. They could’ve just sent the “your review doesn’t meet our guidelines” email if mentioning another buying source is a no-no, and given me the opportunity to rewrite it. Instead, this Draconian approach to honest reviews.

    1. Sorry to hear this. And yes, I wondered if only giving good reviews was what they were basing it on. Who knows, I doubt we’ll ever find out!

      1. Actually I reached out to Amazon, took me about 8 calls, I got with my account manager,, (I have a business account) it seems it’s slowly getting fixed. No explanation, but I see I can review again and also was barred from even asking questions. I think it’s a glitch in software. Has to me.

      2. Glad to hear you’re getting it sorted. I did try to call them, but was always told the Communities Team only worked by email. And when they did bother to reply to me it took them weeks to do so. It would be nice to have an explanation, but I’ve given up on it now. Too many other things to worry about!

      3. just received email , no real explanation –Hello,

        We have reviewed this situation and have restored your reviewing privileges, also restored your reviews to our site. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.

        Best regards,
        Review Moderator
        Amazon.com

      4. Oh yeah, I got that twice. The third time was “You violated our guidelines. This is our final decision.” No explanation any time. So I would advise you to be careful not to trigger it again! Write some bad reviews if you think that’s the problem! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you don’t lose it again.

    1. Good to know. Thanks… but my contact at Amazon got me up and running. Maybe faster because I had business account.

  11. Clarissa–I’ve got an update on this whole mess. You’ll want to read David Gaughran’s piece and maybe comment on it. Yesterday the Washington Post ran an article on Amazon’s fake review problem, which made it sound pretty severe, and shows why the Zon is cracking down so hard.

    But today industry watchdog David Gaughran offered some enlightening information that refutes some of the data in the WaPo article.
    ttps://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/psa-reviewmeta-is-not-accurate/

    It seems that Amazon is using some very dodgy data from an outfit called ReviewMeta to flag “fake” reviews. Two “proofs” of wrongdoing, according to ReviewMeta are: 1) reviewers who mention the name of the book 2) reviewers who review more than one book in a series. Their algorithm flags those as fake reviews.

    So if you’ve had your reviews removed, or your account has been deleted, it may have happened because you broke these “rules” which have no relevance to book reviewing.

    This may be why the robots are getting things so very, very wrong.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this – I probably did both of those things! And how is either of those supposed to show a review is fake?!?

  12. Happened to me too. All my hours of heartfelt reviews suddenly went to waste because amazon pulled the trigger on me. They won’t even tell me what exactly I said they didn’t like, nor did I get a warning. I suspect it’s because in a review of bubblegum, I ranked my favorite brands by taste and quality and they have a rule against brand loyalty. Pure bullshit.

    Let’s discuss amazon alternatives

      1. Honestly I see it as a good thing now. I wont be wasting my time writing reviews when I could be spending my time doing other things that are productive, like my hobbies.

        Its a blessing in disguise if you think about it.

  13. Oh, I forgot to say, this applies to you as well. You probably like to put effort into your reviews, but ultimately your efforts just benefit amazon. Instead you could just post your reviews on your blog, put ads on it, and use it to help gain a following!


  14. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsThey’ve done the same thing to me. It’s a permanent thing as in forever . You can’t even ask a question about a product u want to buy because of it. Mine was done because I got products at a discount from a review site that they allowed when I started then they said don’t write you recieved a discount for the product . First we were required to. They have their own little handpicked invitation only group of reviewers that are allowed to buy the exact same products I did from the same site but because they r handpicked it’s ok. I have never given a good review for a product that was not good or working properly or doing what it’s supposed to. Won’t ever I’m brutally honest . They even took my reviews down for every item I’ve bought ( & there r lots) at full price. But yet it’s ok for me to still spend my money there and they still provide boxes to add codes for the discounts it’s messed up to the highest degre

  15. Unfortunately, I join your ranks of being blocked by Amazon. It makes me sad because I like to support awesome indie authors with great reviews. I have no idea what I did except I did review 3 books in a row from the same series so maybe that is what caught me. It really doesn’t make any sense at all. Seems like they are blocking a lot of legitimate reviewers in their quest to stop the fake ones. 😦

    1. Sorry to hear that Wendi. I’m sure those authors appreciate it. And I agree that Amazon are being very heavy handed about this. They don’t seem to understand readers!

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