Amazon competitor Harassment - how can I counter bad reviews?

27 replies
Sorry if this is long - I just wanted to thoroughly explain myself!

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.
#amazon #bad #competitor #counter #harassment #reviews
  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    In your product description..... Add a section that starts with....

    NOTE ADDED BY (your name): Our products are so good, even our competition is scared of us! They have even stooped to a new low posting fake negative reviews! We are apparently driving them out of business with our superior products. Check out the following FAKE negative reviews they have posted!

    Re's
    Rob
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    • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
      Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

      In your product description..... Add a section that starts with....

      NOTE ADDED BY (your name): Our products are so good, even our competition is scared of us! They have even stooped to a new low posting fake negative reviews! We are apparently driving them out of business with our superior products. Check out the following FAKE negative reviews they have posted!

      Re's
      Rob
      THIS IS GOLD.

      It just says, "yeah we rock so hard that our competitors have to resort to immature tactics because they're complete losers".

      Awesome and I'm going to use that in the future on some of my stuff if I get a negative one.

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  • Profile picture of the author Fishing
    Rob, love it!
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    Complain to amazon and also do what the other guy said. Also, consider sandboxing the competitor
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  • Profile picture of the author markcr
    Banned
    Surely Amazon would like to know about this???? Do not fight fire with fire. Report it and see if you can him banned.

    Again, one of the joys of doing bizz on the Net.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      If you're going to invest legal fees, don't waste them tackling Amazon.

      Sue your competitor for libel. There must be a contingency lawyer out there willing to sue for a share of any settlement or award. Once the suit is filed, your lawyer will be able to subpoena things like employee rosters, purchase records, etc. This is called "discovery".

      [I'm not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice. Many lawyers will give you a free consultation to see if your case has merit, so I suggest you print out the kind of thing you posted here and invest an hour or so to see if you have legal remedies for the damages to your business and your resellers.]
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    • Profile picture of the author sharkey
      Markcr - I report every time they do this - I've sent in 12 reports. sometimes they do something and sometimes they say they are not doing anything and sometimes they ignore my report altogether. In each report I send in I give detailed information and evidence as to why and how this is the competitor. Sometimes I get a canned answer that "Amazon values a variety of opinions" - sometimes they jump and remove it right away. It may depend on the person who receives my report. They've removed almost as many as they've left up. I wonder if this other company sells a lot on amazon that amazon is protecting them. It sure feels that way. I know Amazon has banned sellers for more trivial things.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by sharkey View Post

        I wonder if this other company sells a lot on amazon that amazon is protecting them. It sure feels that way. I know Amazon has banned sellers for more trivial things.
        If Amazon was allowing phony bad reviews on one seller's products to protect another seller, it's the kind of scandal that would eventually blow up and cause them harm far beyond whatever your competitor might be selling through them.

        It would rank right up there with a news outlet getting caught selling editorial space to an advertiser.

        I know it feels like Amazon is hanging you out to dry, but I think what you are seeing is indeed dependent on who receives your reports. Some take their jobs seriously, others will do whatever is easiest and fastest in order to make their 'inquiries per hour' look good. In your case, the easy, fast thing to do is send a form letter saying they won't do anything.

        Another thing you can do is escalate your incident with Amazon. Buck it up the chain of command by sending postal mail with your evidence to the highest person you can find who deals with sellers. Since Amazon is traded publicly, if you can't find the info in their corporate docs (like quarterly and annual reports), contact Investor Relations and ask who you should bring your case to for review and action.

        You wouldn't believe how differently an incident is treated if it comes from someone much higher in the food chain...
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        • Profile picture of the author donhx
          Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

          Another thing you can do is escalate your incident with Amazon. Buck it up the chain of command by sending postal mail with your evidence to the highest person you can find who deals with sellers. You wouldn't believe how differently an incident is treated if it comes from someone much higher in the food chain...
          In my view, this is the best of all the solutions. You cannot depend on getting results from interns or low-level workers.You must approach executives with the idea that Amazon reviews are not trustworthy, and use your case as an example.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesColin
    Banned
    Don't focus on amazon, because there are many sites and free blogs out there that a retarded person can exploit instead of focusing on their business.
    So if you're in the us, and they are too, then yes I think the trials and getting settlement will calm them down.
    But otherwise you could have like suggested a pointer on your product descriptions which links to a page of your site where you make a compilation of all negative reviews you spotted even the ones deleted, if it's a very big page then it will have google love, if some potential customers are then looking online for shark harpon 4feet long, or other things mentionned in the bad reviews then your page will be number one and then they'll get the background story.
    I suggest you don't mention the name of your competitor at all, so that he will not have grounds to play the victim and sue you (not sure he would dare but you never know with retards) but make the page very clear about what it is, a compilation of fake reviews by a competitor selling inferior products.
    Use this to your advantage, write the page as funny angle, make the readers understand and laugh at the stupidity of the competitor, make the page good looking and funny to read, with nice graphics, I'm sure after a few months, seeing that your very long page get good position in google, he will stop by himself :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author sharkey
    Just an update here - it's been a few weeks and I have sent in multiple requests to have some "reviews" removed - two of them basically reading "don't buy this product" that are not verified purchases - not even reviews. I'm being 100% ignored by Amazon. I tried reporting it as a violation several times, and I also tried reporting it within the seller panel. The person who responded said that if it doesn't pertain to an actual order they can't help me or remove the review (what?) and I should report it as a violation instead (already did). Tonight on one of the bad reviews where I responded pointing out some things that made NO SENSE (I did so politely, btw) the owner of the company harassing us came and commented with their personal account (showing their name) as well saying that we are ganging up on people who write bad reviews and we have no integrity and cant be trusted and the people leaving good reviews and positive comments must be associated with our company (I don't solicit reviews or comments, so nope!)

    We are speaking with someone who works with amazon to see if we can get some of this resolved. They are a seller liason and are looking into it. I've recently been getting people on our FB page saying "it looks like the trend on amazon is that you guys are cheating consumers. what do you think about these reviews?" UGH!
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  • Profile picture of the author bluez
    Sometimes stiff competitions are good but destructive competitions ( most of the times, they are losers who focus most of their time on slandering people. ) like the ones you've been facing can be rather energy straining and causing you unnecessary mental stress. You have mentioned that you did not do any harms to them other than focusing on selling better quality products. I will say you are on the right track, do not feed what those losers want and in this case they merely want you to give up and shut down your business.

    Forget about believing Amazon would do you justice most of the times since their main focus is to generate sales for themselves. Put faith and trust in your business and products if they are indeed of good quality. I believe there are always 2 types of potential customers, 1st, they would simply believed in what they read on the reviews, 2nd, they either dont bother to read reviews or would make positive judgements on whatever they read. Take Warrior Forum for instance, there're a handful of WSO that are out to cheat your money for good . How did they do that? they would get new or old but stagnant accounts giving untrue positive reviews, or give you the most unimaginable guarantees. They do so just to get you hooked. But if you belong to the group of potential buyers who can make good judgement from whatever you read, chances are you are not going to take into believe so easily. On the other hand, if you are able to gather enough evidences proving that the people who post negative reviews against your products are indeed your aggressive next street competitors, get your lawyer to give them a warning or something like such.

    In the internet world, you aren't merely exposed to Amazon to sell your items, some warriors here have already told you that you can sell your products elsewhere too. If you are a technie, the best investment is to invest in a brandable domain and sell whatever your quality products on your own brandable site.

    Last but not least, do not give up hope coz by giving up fighting and having faith in your business/products, you are simply giving in to those losers.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesColin
    Banned
    If you had made the page I told you about before, you could simply link to it from your facebook page to those who are wondering about the amazon reviews.
    Did you do it? Have you at least started it?
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  • Profile picture of the author sharkey
    I made the page actually - it's not live yet. I'm trying to make it funny. I haven't run it by my business partner yet - I want to show them when it's done.

    FYI we do sell on our own website and in brick and mortar stores, but surprisingly a lot of people check amazon for reviews no matter where they buy.
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    • Profile picture of the author timmyd
      Sharkey,
      This thread is almost a year old but we are facing the EXACT same problem. We have had some pictures posted by someone with the same picture on the competitor site, only our site the put a quarter BEHIND the product to make it look huge and on theirs they placed the coin in FRONT of the item to make it appear small. Bogus 1-off reviews. I am ethical and can not bring myself to return the same treatment but I need to deal with this.

      How did you effectively deal with this. I do believe making light of the bogus reviews as one poster suggested seams like a good plan. Did that work for you?

      Thanks,
      TJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt59000
    Just delete the review if it's your website, or do the same give and give him bad reviews
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    • Profile picture of the author timmyd
      This is referring to Amazon.com product reviews. I was in error when I referred to "our website". I meant to say "our product" and the "competitor product"

      Originally Posted by Matt59000 View Post

      Just delete the review if it's your website, or do the same give and give him bad reviews
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  • Profile picture of the author AffiliateBob
    Banned
    File a complaint with amazon and then do what Rob suggested above
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  • Profile picture of the author ElijahM
    This is exactly the same sort of thing that has been happening to Ebay retailers for years. It's terrible and has to be so frustrating. If you're able to track them down "locally" a cease and desist order may be enough to sway them or to move them on to their next victim. Although it's doubtful you're their only victim now ... Parasites ...
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    That really stinks this is happening. Your competitor must feel threatened by your product if they have to sink low enough to write fake reviews.

    On that note, as someone who buys A LOT on Amazon, fake reviews are pretty easy to spot, and i report them whenever I see them. It happens a lot with books, especially ones espousing a political or religious viewpoint. People will give it a bad review just because they dont agree with it.

    Hopefully most of your customers will recognize this and still buy from you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Go sell on Ebay, or your own website (best option). Don't contact Amazon support.
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  • Profile picture of the author clever7
    Amazon is indifferent in many aspects. You depend on who will receive your message. Sometimes their answers are obscure and vague, as if they couldn't understand your problem.

    Besides doing what was already suggested in this thread, you can ask your friends to buy your products and post a positive review under the fake negative one, showing to the public that the negative review was ridiculous and should not be taken into consideration.

    This is a simple step, which will probably be more effective than writing that your competitor is posting negative reviews. Some people can believe that this is how you are defending yourself.

    Products with negative and positive reviews show to the potential customers what they should expect to find. For some people this product is good, for other people it is not.

    You have to do everything you can to show to the public that the truth is that your product is excellent but some people are retarded, or they are your competitors, and this is why they write ridiculous reviews against your excellent product.





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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    Amazon let's product manufactures reply to reviews so see if you can become a verified manufacture.

    You can also reply to bad reviews using a normal account and mark them as "no". Just make sure your reply is professional and doesn't sound like a seller crying. I'd actually do it from another customer perspective.

    Garrie
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Luck
    NOTE ADDED BY (your name): Our products are so good, even our competition is scared of us! They have even stooped to a new low posting fake negative reviews! We are apparently driving them out of business with our superior products. Check out the following FAKE negative reviews they have posted!

    I've tried this on some of my Amazon products for one of my businesses and Amazon actually went in and REMOVED this excerpt without my consent.

    It's insane to me that they don't stand up for sellers on protecting their business with fake negative reviews.

    The best advice I have, is to turn your head away at the negative reviews and focus on getting MORE positive reviews.

    Here's a trick...

    Step 1
    Put an insert in your product packaging with a phone number for the customer to call and get a free product from you.

    Step 2
    Setup a phone number with either Google Voice or Grasshopper to sound ultra-professional and have a voicemail (or messaging system via: grasshopper) explain to the caller to leave their information for you to call them back about their free product

    Step 3
    Have a sweet southern sounding girl be your customer service rep and call (ALL) people that have taken the time to leave a voicemail or message.

    Step 4
    Simply have your girl tell the customer that you're calling them back to give them a free product that they requested. And AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CALL be sure to have her ask the customer about how their (buying experience) was with ordering their product on Amazon.

    Step 5
    Since the customer is ordering on Amazon, of COURSE their buying experience was fantastic. Especially if you're doing FBA, then you know they're getting their product shipped and packaged to them faster and better than anywhere else on the planet.

    Step 6
    Have your girl give a coupon code for 100% off their next product they buy from you, and tell them that you made it especially (FOR THEM) so they feel warm and fuzzy.

    Step 7
    Now that you did something good for the customer, with giving them a free product, and listening to them tell you how great their buying experience was... it's time for your sweet southern girl to ask the customer if they could please leave a review for your product when they're going to get another one for free.... it would be a huge help.

    Step 8
    When doing this, explain to the customer about how the competition is fierce on Amazon and you're being bombarded by false reviews, and their positive review (about the buying experience) will help you out more than they can imagine.

    WHEW! Ok, that's the trick!

    When you get this system setup and automated, a few things will magically happen:

    1) Your sales velocity will increase on your product, from all the 100% off purchases

    2) Your positive reviews will skyrocket, making the negative reviews irrelevant

    3) Your customers will love your personal touch with calling them on the phone

    IF you try to do this (without) the phone approach, the results will not be the same. Because then, you'd be dealing with emailing... optin forms... etc... YUCK!

    Treat your customers like they're gold... because they are.

    Enjoy!
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Chris, that's a clever strategy.

      I've tried this on some of my Amazon products for one of my businesses and Amazon actually went in and REMOVED this excerpt without my consent.

      It's insane to me that they don't stand up for sellers on protecting their business with fake negative reviews.
      The trick here is telling the actual fake reviews from simple bad reviews that a vendor wants removed. They have to balance protecting sellers from fake reviews and protecting buyers from buying bad products.

      Sometimes Amazon does stick up for sellers. For one thing, in the Kindle marketplace, bad reviews by authors of competing books are often removed.

      Have a sweet southern sounding girl be your customer service rep
      Much as I love a sultry southern drawl, most companies, especially the larger ones, go for the mid-western accent (actually, it's more like a lack of an accent).

      Other than those two points, great post...
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