A recent report on the Daily Background suggests that a Belkin employee has been paying consumers for reviews on Amazon.com.
The Daily Background noticed a listing on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site looking for people to write 100 percent positive reviews for a Belkin router (which had been getting pretty crappy genuine reviews), give it 5/5 and mark other negative reviews as not helpful. The request was posted by a man named Mike Bayard, who also happens to be Business Development Rep at Belkin International and in charge of “Sales of Belkin products to major .com accounts such as Amazon.com." Oh dear.
Belkin released an official statement to the Daily Background saying it was an isolated incident and the company was very surprised ("great surprise and dismay") to hear an employee may have posted a number of ads on Mechanical Turk inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment. President, Mark Reynoso, went on to say that Belkin does not participate in practices like that and has taken action removed any fake postings as well as all listings from Mechanical Turk. Amazon has also taken action to remove the postings.
Paying for reviews aside, The DB says it’s received an anonymous tip hinting Mr. Bayard might have multiple accounts on Amazon (including one under his own name) and be writing a few positive reviews of his own.
This is a story that’s getting a lot of attention from tech sites. When you’re reviewing a product, there’s nothing more annoying than someone suggesting you were paid off by the company’s PR team or the manufacturer. We’re also a little annoyed on behalf of Belkin. One look at the article listing on digg.com and you’ll see more than a few comments dissing the company itself, despite the fact that Belkin had no knowledge of the situation at all. Let’s hope Amazon and Belkin sort this mess out because paying for reviews is one of the dirtiest tricks in the book.
Check out The Daily Background for the full story.