After being urged by the media and government organizations for paid reviews on its site, Amazon is taking its fight against compensated reviews to court. On Tuesday, the company filed lawsuits against AppSally and Rebatest, companies that Amazon claims sell “fake” positive Amazon reviews.
The claims: 5-star reviews for sale
Amazon’s two lawsuits in Seattle’s King County Superior Court against AppSally (PDF) and Rebatest (PDF) provide in-depth details of fake review packages purportedly offered by the companies, both of which have been in business since at least 2018. Amazon believes AppSally and Rebatest are damaging customer trust by selling packages that allow sellers to pay for positive reviews of their products.
Amazon’s Community Guidelines say that “creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products, refunds, or reimbursements)” and “offering or soliciting compensation (including free or discounted products ) in exchange for creating, modifying or posting content” is not allowed.
But according to one of Amazon’s lawsuits, AppSally sells at least 16 different packages of Amazon reviews.
Amazon also claims that AppSally tells sellers to send it review drafts they would like to see on their products.
AppSally describes itself as “a curated marketplace for growth” that is “handpicked”[s] marketers to give you easy access to the best marketers used by the hypergrowth companies” and offers “reputation management, influencer marketing and more.”
AppSally did not return a request for comment in time for publication.
Rebatest also reportedly sells reviews. The company is reportedly demanding that Amazon sellers “refund purchases made by reviewers,” according to Amazon’s filing. The complaint says Rebatest allows Amazon sellers to “evaluate” users allowed to review their products to determine the reviewer’s willingness to provide positive reviews and to review and approve reviews before posting.
The submission also says that reviewers may no longer be eligible for purchase refunds if they don’t provide enough positive reviews.
When asked for comment, a Rebatest spokesperson told Ars Technica that the company is “deeply shocked” at the complaint. “We have not encouraged our users to do fake reviews,” the rep said. “What we do is help the merchants gather helpful opinions from our users after they use the products before the products are released to the market. … Users themselves [decide] to do the review on Amazon or not, as long as they complete the trial reports on Rebatest, they will get the discount back. We do not force or encourage our users to give 5-star reviews.”
According to Amazon’s Seller Central website, “If you decide to ask a buyer to leave a review, you may not ask for a positive review or only ask for reviews from buyers with a positive experience, nor should you ask customers to leave their reviews.” assessment, or an attempt to influence the assessment.”
Amazon wants to close AppSally and Rebatest and obtain information from the companies so it can identify associated reviews and participating parties. It also wants the companies to “spit out their profits” and pay triple damages and attorney fees.
Amazon Says Fake Reviews Are Affecting Its Brand
Amazon is concerned about fake reviews stopping people from buying and selling on Amazon. In addition to pointing out the ability of fake reviews to “tarnish Amazon’s brand,” the company’s complaints cite bad publicity it has received from media coverage of the spread of fake reviews.
The complaints refer to a Wall Street Journal article titled “Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings Are Still a Problem for Amazon.” Congress followed up the report two days later with an investigation “into the work Amazon is doing to ensure reviews are authentic.”
Amazon says it is using employee teams and machine learning to fight fake reviews, preventing more than 200 million suspected cases by 2020.
Update 2/24/2022, 10:58 AM ET: Added comment from Rebatest.