Amazon removes RavPower products from its online store amidst crackdown on paid reviews
Amazon has struggled with fake and paid reviews proliferating on its store for a long time now, despite the fact that its guidelines strictly prohibit these practices. Amazon’s guidelines do not allow for sellers to incentivize reviews, which includes offering customers gift cards or other benefits for leaving a positive review. A number of popular tech makers, including Aukey and Mpow, had their products delisted from Amazon about a month ago, as they were seemingly caught engaging in the practice. Amazon never confirmed at the time, however, that they were the ones behind the removal. Now, Amazon has confirmed that they took action to remove Aukey and Mpow’s products, and they’ve also confirmed they’ve removed RavPower’s products.
An article by The Wallstreet Journal recently called out how RavPower was incentivizing reviews as part of a broader piece about sellers flouting Amazon’s policies against fake reviews. RavPower, for example, offered the WSJ reporter a $35 gift card for reviewing one of its products sold on Amazon; all they had to do was email RavPower with their order ID and a link to their review. The product in question is the “RavPower PD Pioneer 90W 2-port Wall Charger“, which cost $53 on the 16th of June, according to a cached version of the store listing. Offering a $35 gift card for reviewing a product that costs $53 means that the product effectively only costs $18, an enticing proposition to anyone purchasing the product and an unscrupulous way to boost positive reviews.
This is exactly why vendors aren’t allowed to provide a refund or reimbursement for product reviews, use third-party services that offer free/discounted products tied to reviews, or create customer accounts to review their own products. However, these guidelines are seemingly selectively enforced or not enforced enough, which has led to the popularity of tools like Fakespot and ReviewMeta for identifying fake reviews.
Amazon has confirmed to The Verge that it removed RavPower’s products from its stores, alongside Aukey and Mpow, though they still stopped short of offering a reason why. RavPower’s official storefront on Amazon has been made entirely blank, and no products belonging to the company can be viewed. Searching RavPower on Amazon will yield no results. I have also confirmed that RavPower products have been removed from Amazon UK, Spain, and France, though a few products (but not all) are still available on the company’s German site.
RavPower isn’t totally reliant on Amazon to sell products, and in fact, has its own storefront too. However, the removal of the company’s Amazon storefront makes it much less convenient to order their products. In addition, you will obviously not be able to utilize your Prime subscription (if you have one) for free and fast delivery.
Interestingly, a report by Recode seems to indicate that it was the Federal Trade Commission that prompted Amazon’s recent crackdown, and that Amazon may not even want to punish its sellers. Amazon was being pressured by the FTC to do something about fake reviews, and internal communications between Amazon employees seemed to suggest that some sellers were difficult to punish effectively because of their sales numbers. The report mentions that employees need “special approval” to punish some particular sellers. Furthermore, the report mentions that the FTC frequently made requests of Amazon in the past few months to do something about the merchants who encouraged or incentivized potentially fake reviews. Recode says that an Amazon spokesperson told them that “our policies are the same for every seller, regardless of their size or location,” but the company did not respond to the publication when asked multiple times if enforcement is carried out the same for every seller.
It is unknown at this time if we will see the return of RavPower, Aukey, or Mpow on Amazon. There’s no doubt that these vendors sold quality chargers and other tech accessories (mostly), and their absense will lead to a dearth of quality tech accessories on Amazon. It’s disappointing that these brands engaged in boosted review schemes, though, so there’s no doubt that action had to be taken. If you’re looking to make a purchase of a USB-C charger, Benson Leung, a well-known expert on charging equipment, pointed out on Reddit that many AmazonBasics-branded USB-C chargers are USB-IF certified. As for other products, reputable brands like Anker still have a sizable presence on Amazon.