Removing Negative Amazon Reviews
Amazon product reviews – you can’t bring this topic up in front of a group of Amazon sellers without causing a ruckus. Between the direct correlations of positive product reviews to higher rankings in search results, positive social proof, and better conversions, Amazon sellers live and die by their product reviews.
Reviews have become such an obsession to sellers in the Amazon community that a whole underworld – where millions of dollars a month are exchanged – operates for manipulating the system. This may come as brand owners spending astonishing numbers on positive sock puppet reviews for their own branded products, as well as negative sock puppet reviews for their competitor’s branded products. It is a vicious truth of selling on Amazon that every seller has to face.
That being said, Amazon has been persistent in its cause to cleanse the platform of as many unnatural reviews as possible. So, here is the million-dollar question that I have been asked more times than I can remember: “Can you get rid of negative reviews?”
Yes, I can, and so can you. I encourage sellers to consider everything being shared here and attempt to apply it on their own. I invite you to set aside everything that you have tried in the past to get non-compliant reviews removed and be open-minded to approaching the task with a new paradigm that will allow you to use Amazon’s Community Guidelines to your benefit.
Understanding Amazon on Another Level
There are many factors that contribute to being a successful seller on the Amazon platform. Some of these factors are more obvious than others. Having reputable suppliers, sourcing products for the right price with a high enough demand to sell them for a reasonable profit, using sponsored products and Amazon’s other PPC options, and many other skill sets that advanced sellers encompass.
A common trait found in the best sellers, though, is observing the platform from a distance during times of change and identifying causes, patterns, and clues that allow them to gain a deep understanding of how Amazon operates from a fundamental standpoint, and why they take the actions that they do. When a seller gains this wisdom after years of living through the changes and doing their best to draw conclusions based on what they observe, it enables them to make business decisions that place them in a favorable position based on the current state of Amazon, as well as the direction that Amazon is heading.
Utilizing “Amazon Wisdom” to Benefit You
Before diving in and submitting 200 cases requesting the removal of negative reviews left for your branded products, set aside your feelings about what you believe Amazon should remove and ask yourself this: what do you believe would be in Amazon’s best interest to remove? Shift your paradigm from a “victim seller” and understand what Amazon wants. What we have learned is that sellers and Amazon actually want the same thing – the key to removing non-compliant negative reviews is by presenting your case in a way that emphasizes the reasons Amazon doesn’t want these reviews on your products.
Once you can approach the topic from this angle, I can promise you will find much more success in your efforts to remove these harmful reviews. Everybody knows that at Amazon’s core is the first Leadership Principle of “Customer Obsession”. Call it whatever you would like – “Earth’s most customer-centric company” – “Customer Obsession” – “The buyer experience”… terms and principles that we all throw around all too often. Amazon’s priority is not to appease all of their whining third-party sellers by devoting a ton of resources into scrutinizing every case that is presented to them, nor should it be.
Amazon’s priority is maintaining the trust of its buyers. If you are a third-party seller, these are your buyers as well. This common interest should make the fundamental change even easier. Protecting the integrity of product reviews is one of the most important tasks that Amazon has ever had and will continue to have. According to Qualtrics, 93% of online consumers read product reviews before purchasing a product. Could you imagine how detrimental it would be if Amazon’s loyal buyers suddenly lose faith in the product review system present on the platform? The minute a customer reaches this point is the minute that Walmart has got a new buyer. Amazon knows this and as a third-party seller, you sure as hell better know it too.
Common Enemies Unite
So, why is everything above so important? When operating under this mindset, a seller will identify which reviews to dispute differently, they will choose how they argue their case differently, and they will be working in harmony with Amazon’s core principles and goals. Let’s get down to business.
If you are not familiar with Amazon’s Community Guidelines, stop everything and go read them now. Then, read them again, and again, and again. Far too many sellers overcomplicate policies and cannot use the black-and-white resources at their fingertips. When filing a case requesting the removal of what you believe is a review that violates Amazon’s Community Guidelines, it is your job to cite exactly why the review is in violation and how this non-compliant review is harming the buyer experience. Of anything you will read in this article, this is probably the most important. You obviously want the negative review removed. The level of importance that Amazon places on the buyer experience is no secret.
Present your case in a way that makes it clear to the associate reviewing it that the review is both in violation of the guidelines, and opposes what Amazon strives so desperately to protect. This is the key to making non-compliant reviews drop like flies.
These methods and ideas began as just a theory based on our team’s collective years of working with sellers and gaining a deep understanding of what we believe Amazon prioritizes. From there, we analyzed the Community Guidelines word-for-word and began a massive trial-and-error campaign. More than enough time has passed where we feel very comfortable sharing the conclusive results from all the work we have done.
Because we work with an abundance of sellers and need to process far more reviews than an individual seller ever would, I wish to be completely transparent by sharing that we have built software to assist with identifying non-compliant reviews and formatting the cases to be filed with the language for various types of reviews we target. That being said, there is absolutely no reason this process cannot be done manually when working with only one brand. Listed below, you will find a list of the strongest arguments we can say with certainty are valid reasons for removal. Anything that is placed in quotes is from the Community Guidelines.
Brand owners may set their product prices however they want. The price that’s decided is clearly displayed on the product detail page when a buyer purchases the product. If a negative review is predominantly about the price of a product, it is harmful to the buyer experience because it is not providing “helpful, relevant content to customers”. Besides this, Amazon does not want comments about how a similar product purchased elsewhere is “x” amount cheaper. “Other uses of pricing, product availability, or alternate ordering options should not be shared in Customer Reviews or Questions and Answers. Example: “Found this here for $5 less than my local store”.
When a customer purchases a product from Amazon, they can leave a “Verified Purchase Review”, as well as feedback about the seller they purchased from. “Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers should be about the product. Feedback about the seller can be shared at www.amazon.com/feedback.” A buyer going on a tangent about the seller provides no valuable insight to other potential buyers of this product and is, therefore, impeding on a positive buyer experience.
Do not file any cases for reviews strictly because they have been written in a language that is not English. Amazon now provides a button right below the review that allows a person to translate the review instantly, which is actually immaculate. The way to check if the review can be removed or not is to use this feature and analyze the translated text. This text is what we can dispute if when translated the review either violates any of these other reasons or makes little sense at all. A review that makes no sense can only lead to a confusing buyer experience.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
Hostile, Threatening, or Violent Speech
These reviews are straightforward. Consider these “slam dunks”. The rowdier they are, the easier they are to get lifted. They are not good for anybody. “Don’t post content that is libelous, defamatory, harassing, threatening, or inflammatory.”
Integrity of Reviews
This argument is your new secret weapon. I personally have seen countless reviews get removed based on this argument. We spoke earlier about the absolute necessity of preserving the buyer’s trust in Amazon’s review system as a whole. With this knowledge, when going through your branded product’s reviews, constantly ask yourself if the review is detrimental to the integrity of the rest of the reviews left. I will give you an example. If you are a third-party seller on Amazon, you have seen hundreds if not thousands of these: Title: “Terrible product. Good reviews are all fake.” Body: “I can’t believe that this product has so many five-star reviews.” Product reviews are not allowed to focus on other reviews that have been left.
Amazon knows that these reviews corrode the integrity of the review system as a whole, and they seem to be quite willing to make them go far away when it’s brought to their attention. “We take the integrity of the Community seriously. Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including by contributing false, misleading, or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.”
Right up there on the list of priorities, next to the buyer experience, is legal liability. I am not a lawyer and honestly do not know who would be responsible for something terrible happening to a person who actually followed through on some unqualified, loopy buyer’s medical recommendations. Whether it be because of liability or a sense of responsibility, we have found that reviews submitted for removal based on this argument are removed more often than not.
Not a Product Review
This is the most overlooked type of non-compliant review that sellers fail to identify and remove. “The Community is intended to provide helpful, relevant content to customers. Content you submit should be relevant and based on your own honest opinions and experience.” Remember the ultimate rule – if it’s bad for the buyer experience, it is bad for both you and Amazon. Get rid of it.
“Don’t post content that invades others’ privacy. For example, don’t post other people’s phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, or other personal information, and don’t post links to phishing or other malware sites.” No seller or any employee of any seller deserves to be harassed by any buyer who somehow gets any sort of sensitive information about them. Amazon takes this very seriously and will swiftly remove anything that fits this criterion as soon as it is reported.
Just as with pricing, the return policy for each product is clearly stated on the product detail page when a buyer purchases a product. Polluting the product reviews with a buyer’s personal opinion about the policy that they should have been well aware of simply muddies the waters of the other submissions that are actually helpful to other potential buyers considering purchasing the product. In addition to this, when the product is fulfilled by Amazon, the buyer is criticizing the policy that the third-party seller has absolutely nothing to do with.
When we initially began this campaign, we came up with an extremely long list of potential arguments that we thought would be potentially valid reasons that Amazon would accept to remove a negative review. After conducting a plethora of tests by submitting many cases, along with many variations of the language used in the cases, this list proved to be the strongest arguments that could be made. Although sarcasm was not one reason we believed would be one of the most widely accepted reasons for removal, we found it to be one of the easier types of negative reviews to remove.
Shipping & Fulfillment FBA – Used Sold as New FBA – Wrong Product FBA
These last three reasons are combined because, from a fundamental level, they are all the same. For starters, a product that arrived late to the buyer when shipped by Amazon, a product that was opened and returned to fulfillable inventory by Amazon, and a wrong product sent to a buyer from Amazon is not the fault of the third-party seller. Though, a review that focuses on any of these issues is violating the criteria of what Amazon states a review must be, which is “Helpful and Relevant” submissions that allow future potential buyers to make the most informed purchasing decision possible.
It is important to remember that when a seller creates a case requesting the removal of a review that they believe violates Amazon’s Community Guidelines, there is a human being on the other end that reviews it and decides on whether the review will be removed or not. Mostly, we have found that regardless of which associate resolves the case; the outcomes are almost always consistent. That being said, we have also had instances where one associate would deny an identical match of another case previously filed that was removed.
There is an obvious level of inconsistency whenever a human element is involved in a process. This is not something that sellers should be worried about. If you file a case that you feel strongly about and it gets denied, you do have an additional chance to have it reviewed again by another associate. Do not reply to the denial via email. We learned quickly that almost without fail, the case will just be slammed right back down. Instead, simply file the case again in the same manner that you did initially. This will allow another pair of eyes to review the review. If this request is denied, the response will inform you that they have investigated the review again and they agree with the previous associate who concluded that the review does not violate Amazon’s Community Guidelines.
There are no specific guidelines stating how many cases a seller may file over a particular time period, or as with some other types of cases, any sort of restriction for submitting “insufficiently researched” requests. However, we can tell you with certainty that based on our experience, using common sense when considering how many cases you should file and at what rate is essential. If you’re considering filing 100 cases in one day for Amazon’s team to review, does common sense really tell you that this is a wise decision? If it does, then I wish you the best of luck. For those who can use common sense, we have found that if we file solid cases in reasonable amounts, there is a far higher rate of removal.
I have seen many sellers attempt to play the numbers game by filing a case for literally every negative review that they have and using the same generic nonsense language in every case. It is a mystery to them why not one review gets removed. Have respect for the resources that you are exhausting if you want the cases you submit to be taken seriously. It’s impossible to know the exact number of cases it is appropriate to file in one day. However, we have decided to not surpass 15 per day for any seller account. With this method, we’ve found that they have consistently dealt with the cases filed in a fair manner.
So, now you have it at your fingertips: a comprehensive method of getting negative reviews removed from your best-selling ASINs. Hopefully, you’ll see some success with our recommendations and a bit of persistence. There’s no need to use insane and risky blackhat tactics to get these reviews removed. Getting it done in a way that not only complies with Amazon policies but uses them to your advantage, is always better.
Need more proof? See the album below.
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Joe Nilsen has been active on the Amazon platform for over 10 years both selling and consulting. Having worked with over 450 sellers over the previous five years, there are few unique issues that he doesn’t have experience in addressing and overcoming.