Amazon Sues, Alleging Firms Charge For Positive Product Reviews

Amazon has filed a suit in King County Superior Court against websites it said promise to slip biased reviews onto its site. According to the Amazon suit, the defendants Jay Gentile, operator of buyazonreviews.com, and the operators of buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com are charging to place positive reviews on Amazon.com.

Amazon also is asking the court for relief against the defendants using its trademarks on their sites.

In the complaint, Amazon stated:

  • “A very small minority of sellers and manufacturers attempts to gain unfair competitive advantages by creating false, misleading and inauthentic customer reviews for their products on Amazon.com. While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand. Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews. Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews. Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.”
  • “During conversations with a customer, defendant Gentile (the ‘CEO and Marketing Specialist” of buyazonreviews.com) promised to provide as many five-star reviews as the purchaser wanted, promised to ‘slow drip’ them onto the product pages so that Amazon would have a more difficult time detecting them, and suggested that the purchaser “do a few verified purchase reviews … so as not to raise any eyebrows with [A]mazon.” Gentile further explained that the reviewers at buyazonreviews.com do not actually need to receive the products they are reviewing, and the purchaser could simply ship empty packages in an effort to fool Amazon into believing the reviewer was a ‘verified purchaser,’ saying, ‘Note: You do not have to actually ship the item unless you want to. We suggest that for tracking purposes is that you just ship out an empty box or envelope, this will show [A]mazon that the item was actually shipped.'”
  • “…the defendants at the unambiguously named ‘buyamazonreviews.com’ promise, ‘You can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week.’ The defendants operating ‘bayreviews.net’ use Amazon’s logo to advertise ‘a unique system that generates high quality 5 rating reviews to your Kindle eBook.’ And the defendants at ‘buyreviewsnow.com’ claim, ‘never has it been easier to get multiple 4 and 5 star reviews on your product page.’ Defendants are misleading Amazon’s customers and tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers.”

Amazon is asking the court for compensatory damages, triple damages and disgorgement of profits as well as costs and attorneys’ fees.