Amazon has been dealing with dishonest and fake reviews for a long time now. In the last two years alone, the e-commerce giant has sued over a 1,000 people who were paid for writing reviews on any of its online shops. However, another huge part of this issue is the phenomenon of incentivized reviews prompted by heavy discounts which sellers were handing out to buyers in exchange for what they deemed were honest reviews. With time, this practice evolved into quite literal handing out of products in exchange for reviews. The fact that someone who got something for free in exchange for a review may not write an honest piece is pretty self-explanatory and while Amazon has so far been dealing with this issue on a case-by-case basis, the company is now seemingly done with half-measures.
Namely, Amazon has just announced a huge overhaul of its Community Guidelines which now almost completely forbid this practice. Namely, incentivized reviews will still be allowed within Amazon's own Vine program but will be fully managed by the online retailer and not individual sellers. In other words, only Amazon will have the ability to label reviewers as trusted and will also soon implement certain practices designed to eliminate any semblance of bias from reviews. This move represents a significant change to Amazon's policies. You see, despite the fact that Amazon always frowned upon heavily incentivized reviews, it still permitted exchanging products for reviews in principle as long as reviewers disclosed their affiliation with the seller to other users and only occasionally dealt with obviously shady practices.
Nonetheless, this change to community guidelines suggests that customer happiness is still Amazon's primary goal. Namely, implementation of the aforementioned practices will definitely cost the company a lot of money so from a purely financial standpoint, Amazon would be better off leaving things as they are, at least in the short term. A recent study conducted by Reviewmeta.com illustrated how necessary this change was. Namely, the said website found that the average product rating for incentivized reviews was significantly higher in comparison to regular reviews, TechCrunch reports. The difference amounted to 0.38 stars and the researchers also concluded that incentivized reviewers are four times less likely to write anything critical about the product at all.