UPDATE: Are Amazon Seller Ratings Trustworthy?

 If you haven't read the original post about my experience with posting a negative Amazon Seller Review, you might want to check it out.

Apparently Jeff Bezos does care. I just got off the phone with one of his assistants, she read my blog entry and here is roughly what she had to say:
  1. The person who originally took down my review shouldn't have done so. He is a newer employee and was unfamiliar with Amazon's Feedback Removal Policy. She apologised for this and took full responsibility that, as a company, this shouldn't happen. The rep in question will receive additional training to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. She was very clear that, except in the cases outlined in their policy, Amazon does not remove consumer feedback, whether positive or negative.
  2. When I called yesterday and was told my feedback violated their policy, the Seller Department did not actually look into the specifics of my file, despite being asked to do so by my customer service representative. They looked at the notes written by the person who had removed the feedback and assumed he'd done everything by the book. She was very clear that they should have looked into things in greater detail, she said that they intend to address the issue and will do their best to ensure that processes are reiterated so that this kind of situation is avoided in the future.
  3. They were already aware that there was a glitch in the system and that instead of receiving an accurate message saying "Amazon has removed your feedback" it currently implies that the customer has done it, which is what made me think that my account had been hacked. They have now escalated the issue and hope to have it resolved quickly.
Because I've never had a bad customer service experience with Amazon before, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this really was a calamity of errors and that Amazon is acting in good faith. If nothing else, the power of the Internet (and the fact that my original blog entry about it has had nearly 2,000 page views in less than 24 hours) makes me think there is some security in knowing that if they are misrepresenting their policy, people will speak up and call them out on it.

So despite absolutely and utterly flubbing my case, here's what Amazon did right in the end:
  • They paid attention to social media and took my complaint seriously. They took the time to read about my experience and they had someone personally respond to me who was actually in a position to speak with authority about the situation. 
  • They apologised and admitted they were in error and hadn't followed their own policies and procedures. Although they gave a few reasons for the errors, it didn't feel like they were making excuses. They also told me that they are taking steps to correct the problem with their process and that my unfortunate experience was being used as a learning opportunity.
  • They clearly stood behind the importance of consumer reviews, particularly of third party sellers. The person I spoke to understood the policy inside and out and spoke passionately about how important it is to Amazon. 
Maybe I'm naive, but I believed her. Hopefully Amazon doesn't prove me wrong.

Thanks to everyone who commented, shared the original post and Tweeted about this. It was heartening to get such a supportive response.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous said...

i am actually not impressed by the actions of the ceo's office in response to this mess. you'd expect an action warranting his intervention would result in a more serious/drastic action, but instead this sounds like no different from what you after asking "can i speak to the supervisor", which is really just an art in circular verbiage. i'm so not impressed there was no outrage and tangible empathy with your pain in any of that, to the point that they would actually do something tangible if not radical about the original problem, and all the time and heat you wasted over this. and everyone else's - mine too.

so, did you get your money or kindle bag? a truly customer-focused operation should wash your feet for this - i would've given you a generous voucher to make up for this, and a card to truly say sorry. really sad. few things irk me more than soulless orgs with customer service designed to rival a neo-colonial dictatorship (and i make no apologies for this analogy). shame on you, amazon! sigh.

so sorry to read what must have been a painful, circular ordeal - i truly feel your pain.

customerspecifics said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy Thibodeau said...

@anonymous Thanks for your comments. Yeah, on a lot of levels you're right. Too little too late. Still, I'm trying to look on the bright side and hope that they are genuine about learning something and improving their customer service.

If anything like this happens to me again, you can be certain Amazon won't be able to count me as a customer anymore.

Anonymous said...

Any Amazon reseller who hassles a buyer to remove feedback is violating 'community rules,' and you should report it immediately to customer service. Sellers lose 150.00 for each negative feedback, so it's costly to them. Most customers, of which I am one, are pretty easy but if stiffed by a third party seller can be brutal.

teddie said...

I found your blog post after googling "ratings on amazon."I've been starting to lose a little faith in the amazon ratings as well, but more on the book side. I've read a few things here and there about negative book comments being taken off by authors. It may have only happened in a few cases, but I am starting to jump to a few other sites to find reviews as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I wish I had seen all these comments before I placed my order on AMAZON recently. Similar to the others, I've had a terrible experience with their seller RED TAG SALE.

I've ordered specific dental items in bulk because they advised as it being much cheaper than the others. They were selling 640 items for nearly $500. When it arrived, I only received 480 items - which is a significant reduction (25%) of the goods (i.e. missing 160 units)!!

In the mean time, I've been charged tax & handling fees and exchange rates for the almost $500 worth of goods. When i contacted them, instead of being apologetic, they were very rude in their reply, not taking responsibilities for the error and said it is the manufacturer's fault because they did not inform them of the change in product. And their approach to the situation is that basically it is the consumer's bad luck rather than an error that they've made in causing this problem. In fact, I've helped them in identifying the error -- and their false advertisement on the AMAZON website. This is not an insignificant error and cost to me as the consumer. It is appalling that they still allow to operate like this online.

I urge all consumers not to use this company from now on because I don't want you to go through all this.

Matt Black said...

Hello there, I too have had a terrible experience with amazon and their third party sellers. I received faulty goods at xmas, returned them in january and to date have had no replacement nor refund. Negative feedback was put up about the sellers service and immediately emails were received stating how I'm messing with their livelihood. They promised me the world if I removed it (against the rules) and like I say still have not sorted it. After numerous emails between myself, Amazon and Aspyre it has been made clear that Amazon accept no responsibility for third party disputes after 14 days and they cannot compel the seller to do anything they don't want to.
This is a link to the Sales of Goods Act 1979
http://www.parliament.uk/Templates/BriefingPapers/Pages/BPPdfDownload.aspx?bp-id=sn02239

As Amazon are just a 'host for sellers' it seems I have no rights to any claim. Is this correct?

I thought Amazon had a legal obligation to the consumer more than the seller, apparently not.