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.
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:
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
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.
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.