I've been having a problem with a competitor on amazon lately. Every week they post a scathing one-star review on at least one of our products. Before you start telling me my products suck, I know it's them for a number of reasons. One of the people that continually posts is using a name that I see elsewhere on the internet heavily promoting our competitor's products in blog comments, etc. I used to work with this competitor and this person has a very distinct writing style which is reflected in every review. Every bad review that goes up immediately gets 2 people who mark it as helpful, and if I respond offering them a free product or easy refund, that immediately gets marked as unhelpful. They never contact me for a free product or easy refund. Once in a while the person will contact a reseller who contacts me and they say they are sure it is a competitor.
The bad 1 star reviews make no sense whatsoever and take small trivial things that don't matter and blow them out of proportion. I never listed the products on amazon and I don't sell on amazon - they were listed by a reseller, which we have many of. The reseller did not list every minute detail of the product, so these reviews exploit that saying that we (the manufacturer) are lying by omission of details that don’t matter.
let's say I sell sharky's shark harpoons -
these reviews read like: "the amazon description says my shark harpoon is 7 ft long. when I received my harpoon it only measures 6' 15/16" - I am EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED that this company would completely cheat and lie because I will NEVER be able to harpoon a shark without the extra sixteenth of an inch. BUYER BEWARE!!!! I hate to hassle with returns!!! How extremely underhanded and awful this company is!!!
Every review like that is on an account where there are little to no other reviews for other products.
I first figured out it was them when they posted set-up customer photos of my product on the same background they use to photograph their own products. The set-up photos were supposed to defame my products and didn't resemble the actual product, though the packaging looked like it was my product's packaging. Amazon removes the photos sometimes, and then the competitor just reposts them. This has been going on for 4 months. The competitor also runs a website that slanders my company with things that just aren't true. They invent standards on their site that apply to their lower quality product and then write massive paragraphs about how my products will disappoint consumers. Everything they write about on the page usually gets brought up in an amazon review.
like someone will write in a review: "It says the shipping weight is 5 lbs on amazon, and when I ordered it the actual product weight was only 4 lbs. I can't believe this company cheats so badly! if I had known it was only 4 lbs I wound't have purchased. I hate to hassle with returns but I won't be cheated!! I've read elsewhere on the internet to beware of companies who sell 4 lb harpoons! I am KICKING MYSELF. I will NEVER be able to harpoon a shark with this!"
and then of course on the competitor's page it has a paragraph to beware of companies selling 4 lb harpoons and beware of sneaky tactics like only listing shipping weight which is sure to result in a disappointed consumer. The competitor went as far as to list these same nonsensical reasons to not buy our products in their own product descriptions on Amazon - which amazon has done nothing about despite my pointing it out to them.
With my product, neither the length or weight or other measurements have anything to do with the use of the product at all whatsoever, although their slander site states that measurements are an extremely important part of harpooning sharks (and lets people know about their own dimensions for their products as being the only correct dimensions). I can’t imagine a real customer acting this way. I sell consumer goods that you run out of and need more of -- like would you write a one star review on amazon because your cheap pencil was 3 millimeters shorter than you expected and you feel cheated? do you measure your pencils? Would you count the sheets of toilet paper in your roll and devote a one star review on how you don't think 600 sheets constitutes a "super roll"? Yes it’s that ridiculous. Same deal.
I am worried that people who may not know much about proverbial harpoons may be turned away from our products.
We sold many tens of thousands of units in the past 6 months and more last year, and we've never had a single complaint like this. No one ever calls us or writes on our facebook page or emails about these things. The complaints show up on amazon though, and when I respond and let them know to please contact us, or that the description of our product that they are saying doesn't sound like what we sell and we'd love to send them a new one for free directly from the company, they never respond directly, but the response gets marked as unhelpful.
Then I finally got in touch with some resellers who were in touch with the people who left reviews for returns and things and the people writing these reviews all live in the same state and most live within a few miles of our competitor! It really looks like people from the company are buying my products on amazon, leaving a bad review and returning the product in an attempt to hurt my product's reputation, affect our rankings, and hurt our retailers.
Anyway, Amazon has removed 7 of these reviews, and then they suddenly started giving me a lot of trouble and wont remove any more of them as they come up. The most recent review which particularly makes zero sense and doesn't read like they even tried the product and made up a bunch of stuff, the person lives literally down the street from my competitor (according to the reseller whom they contacted) and Amazon said they won't take it down. Amazon says that they value different opinions, despite the fact it's against Amazon's TOS for a competitor to post reviews on other products.
Also the other day we had another one star review on two different sizes of our products by the same account. These two reviews are both different but read similarly “I ALMOST bought this product, but then I noticed that this company LIES and CHEATS - I’m so happy I didn’t purchase! BUYER BEWARE “ And then they list nonsensical reasons why they think we are lying and cheating – all having nothing to do with our product, its use, or its ability to harpoon sharks, and everything to do with the made up standards that apply to our competitor’s second rate product listed on their website.
I am thinking that my competitor thinks that if there are enough one star reviews and a website all saying the same thing, and a warning in their own product descriptions that people will think it's true.
I reported this new review 5 days ago, and Amazon has yet to get back to me. Here’s someone who is stating they didn’t even buy it, but they have to leave a 1 star review to warn customers? It’s written in the exact same writing style as every other bad review. If you don't look at the fact there are different authors it all reads exactly the same - you'd never know it was different people posting it.
I am amazed at how easily some vindictive person can succeed in hurting a competitor on amazon and how little recourse I have as a manufacturer.
And by the way, we’ve never done anything against this competitor other than sell a higher quality product. I don’t harass them on amazon or do anything to them elsewhere on the internet– I am busy marketing my products. Maybe they are not doing so well so they have a lot of free time? I don’t know.
SO my question is, how do I manage this? do I have my lawyer write amazon a letter? is this going to cost me legal fees every time my competitor decides to do this to continually write amazon letters?
Are there ways to counter these bad reviews? We have lots of good reviews on many products but I'm a little upset that it's this easy for my competitor to keep doing this and Amazon won't do anything. There are a couple of products that have very few reviews so it seriously hurts the rating for those products.