cash for reviewsI recently purchased some teaching products via The order arrived last week and everything was fine, so I didn’t pay too much attention to it, and did not realize it had come from a third-party seller until I got a curious email from them this week.

The email said that their records indicated my order should have arrived by now, they hoped I found everything satisfactory, and they suggested that if I indeed did find it so, perhaps I could leave them a review for it. Fair enough so far, I guess. But then I got to this little clincher:

“If we were able to meet your expectations, then we kindly request you to provide us with a 5/5 feedback.  You could WIN $100 for providing your feedback. Every feedback provided will enter the next four weekly draws for $100 Amazon gift card. That is four chances to win $100!!. We will also give you $5 off your next purchase from our store by providing us a feedback.”

And it concluded with a request that I please contact them for ‘help’ before submitting a review with any score lower than a 5/5 so that they might have a chance to ‘resolve’ my concerns and ‘meet [my] expectations.’

So…am I the only one who finds this a bit of a slippery slope here? They spied on my shipment. Okay, well they do have a tracking number for it, and I guess that is their right. They hope I am happy? Great. They kindly suggest that perhaps I may leave them a review if so? Fine, I can see it. But the bribe to do so, and then the veiled threat about leaving one that’s less than perfect? Is this really the common practice these days?

I do think they are within reasonable grounds to suggest that customers who are not satisfied should contact them so they can resolve the issue. That is good customer service to me. But the bribe for leaving them not just a good but a PERFECT review seems a little much to me.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I’ve gotten a couple of emails like this after making a purchase from an Amazon vendor. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I probably just read a little way and deleted it.

    It just occurred to me that there’s probably a pretty reasonable way to deal with this kind of thing and I think this is what I’ll do when I get another one. I’ll leave a review explaining the follow-up email they sent me and questioning the validity of all of it’s 5/5 reviews, and suggest others who get these emails do the same.

    I’ll probably give it the number of stars I think the product earns, minus 1. I want to be fair about this even if they don’t. Of course I’ll explain in the review that I have removed 1 star for their trickery.

    My guess is that if they’re paying any attention that should make this kind of scheme seem not worth doing.


  2. The star ratings on social media like Amazon or Goodreads are highly suspect. I’ve never seen something quite so blantant as this cash payout, but I’m not surprised. In real life, few goods or books should get five stars, but every seller is yearning for five every time. It is hard to say which five star reviews are genuine.

    • @Greg M, I agree with you on the 5-star rating. I give very few 5 stars, usually only to books I’ve read many times. Honestly, I wouldn’t rate my own books 5 stars, but it doesn’t stop the little thrill when, like this morning, I go onto Goodreads and see another 5 star rating. 😉 I’d never pay for it though. The thrill comes when you know it’s genuine because it’s from someone you don’t know (i.e. not a family/friend rating).

  3. Now, to be fair, a lot of people don’t bother to leave reviews for third party vendors when they buy things—I know I usually don’t. Heck, I’ve ready plenty of times about how hard it is to get reviews for self-published books, and those are products themselves. A lot of people don’t even bother to think about the vendor they buy them from.

    If it were just a matter of trying to look good to customers, that would be one thing. But those ratings can make or break a vendor’s placement in Amazon, and their ability to move many items at all. Five-star ratings are especially important, but a lot of people tend to reserve five-star reviews only for things that “wow” them. It’s hard to be “wowed” by someone shipping you their product when they say they will.

  4. I don’t think sellers should be hassling buyers for reviews at all and I delete such requests. I delete Amazon requests too but I think I’d let Amazon know about this one.

    I don’t remember the whole story but A reportedly cut off a third party seller for hassling someone about a poor review they left for one of the seller’s products. I think they should consider cutting off this seller as well even if the product was satisfactory.

    NB: I always give third party sellers a rating on their service, description, etc. but the only reviews I do are for indie authors.

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