Looking for a discount on Amazon? Try a little underhanded quid pro quo with a shady merchant.
The New York Times has the story of a merchant named VIP Deals that was selling a Kindle Fire case worth $59.99 for under $10. Each package came with a letter telling customers that if they posted a review on Amazon, the $10 would be refunded, essentially making the product free.
In case you had any doubts about what kind of reviews VIP Deals wanted, the Times quotes the letter: “We strive to earn 100 percent perfect ‘FIVE-STAR’ scores from you!”
It worked, too, with 310 of the 355 reviews boasting five stars and almost all of the rest four stars. When presented with the evidence, Amazon promptly took down the product page.
It’s hard to stress just how valuable product reviews are. With editorial coverage difficult to obtain and bidding for top keywords expensive, a five-star review is a cheap and easy way to get your product to the top of Amazon’s search results. Many times, they’re the only meaningful information available about a product, making bribing people for good reviews a pretty sound financial decision if you can get away with it.
The moral of the story? Read the reviews carefully. If every single one is effusive, you might want to keep looking.