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Dirty dealing in the $175B Amazon Marketplace (theverge.com)
68 points by juokaz on Dec 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 6 comments

This is just depressing. Here on HN and elsewhere, I often see people wondering why Amazon isn’t cracking down on obviously fake reviews, and it seems like at least part of the problem is a lot of those fake reviews are false flags to get a competitor shut down. So Amazon can’t just nuke them from orbit. I understand the motivation... but I’m still stuck unable to find any useful reviews.

Are we ever going to have a review system on the internet that isn’t gamed to the point of uselessness? I’m beginning to seriously doubt it.

Couldn't Amazon just require all reviews to be Verified? That would at least cost a competitor a little bit of money in buying their competitors product...

They already found a way around that one: https://www.businessinsider.com/people-receiving-amazon-pack...

tl;dr: They pick an address, order their own products, ship junk in its place (cheap goods or even just bricks), and leave a verified review.

The Performance workers’ incentives favor rejection. They must process approximately one claim every four minutes, and reinstating someone who later gets suspended again counts against them, according to McCabe and others.

So the system is set up in an extremely rigid way that prevents much thought on the part of the human cogs, and if something goes wrong in the future with that seller it hurts their metrics. Seems like everyone's incentivized towards punishment here. It's not that surprising, most call center type jobs seem to have stringent to the point of absurd metrics, but this seems like a poorly balanced system.

Wow! These stories sound like nightmares. My company manufactures and sells one product on Amazon, and we've thankfully never run into these sorts of issues. Some of the dirty tricks described sound like outright fraud to me.

Having run into some of these issues I can confirm that Amazon's appeal process is very accurately described as Kafkaesque

Sampling of situations that either happened to me or I have direct knowledge of:

Suspension for listing an authentic product, because the brand was listed slightly differently (think "acme products" vs "acme"). Took a week and two appeals to get reinstated

Suspension for changing bank account information (have heard many such cases - they flag it as fraud but instead of just putting payments on hold, they block all listings until resolved)

Suspensions claiming account is related to another account that's blocked. No information is given and seller is unaware of any other accounts it might be linked to

Suspension for inauthentic product. Even after invoices showing all products in question were provided, Amazon decides to ignore everything, steals the inventory valued in the 7 digits and keeps the money as well

Suspension for selling expired product. Turns out Amazon had found the product in their warehouse and decided to add it to sellers inventory, sell it, get complaints and then blame it on the seller. (Seriously. Ask anybody selling volume groceries on Amazon. Amazon is shockingly incompetent at tracking dates).

Product blocked due to false complaint by brand owner. Reinstated after sending an invoice proving authenticity. Repeat a few dozen times (sending the same exact invoice each time).

Plus one not directly related to performance but scummy behavior anyway: Amazon starts selling a product and all of a sudden blocks third party sellers from selling it. Sometimes I've had 5-6 figures of inventory get blocked this way. Makes it really difficult to run a business when they act capriciously.

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