A Belkin representative apparently was paying $.65 for 100% positive Belkin router reviews to be published on Amazon.com, NewEgg and Buy.com amongst other shopping sites which offer consumer generated product reviews to assist with purchasing decisions and internal site search rankings.
It doesn’t matter if the reviewer doesn’t own the product or has never tried it– the requester has helpfully written, “Write as if you own the product and are using it.” It even goes a step further, asking the Mechanical Turk user to “Mark any other negative reviews as “not helpful” once you post yours.”
Users are paid 65 cents for every positive review they leave. There are dozens of these requests from this Mike guy on Mechanical Turk.
Sounds like somebody reallllllllly wants this item to get high ratings. So what is the product? The link is to an Amazon.com listing for a Belkin router which has consistently gotten bad reviews in the past from users who say that the product is “loaded with Bugs, goes on & off whenever it feels like, and comes at a hefty price.”
Any lessons to be learnt here?
One, is bad reputation management can backfire against a company. In an effort to generate false reviews and increase their standing within shopping sites and also within search, Belkin has made a critical decision of publicly breaking business ethics laws and Amazon Terms of Service. Not only do they now run the risk of having their products banned from sites like Amazon and Buy.com, but are also currently experiencing a negative backlash by the tech media outlets which are covering this story including SlashDot, Digg, Gizmodo and other sites … and it’s a Federal Holiday today.
Expect this story to grow more and more, and Belkin search results for a large amount of their products to include these negative reviews, stories and blog posts covering Belkin’s questionable business tactics. The Google search results for Belkin are already reflecting this, with half of the results showing coverage of this story.