Sold! Your Data on Amazon

Sold! Your Data on Amazon
Sold! Your Data on Amazon

When you visit Amazon to buy a product, you probably read the reviews and check the seller’s rating. You place your trust in Amazon to ban accounts from sellers who scam, sell counterfeit goods, or otherwise take your money without delivering what you purchased.
But can you really trust a giant corporation like Amazon to look out for your best interests? We think the answer is no, and we’ll tell you why in today’s post.

Key Facts

• It turns out Amazon’s staff have been taking bribes from struggling merchants with a bit of pocket cash – up to $2,000 or more to manipulate information on the site.
• The people providing the bribes? Banned or poorly-reviewed merchants who have failed or outright scammed customers in the past. Instead of fixing their issues and becoming a decent seller, they’re paying Amazon’s staff to “reset” the info and make themselves appear perfect.
• Now, here’s where things get really scary: the unfolding issue isn’t just about bad reviews and banned accounts. Staff from the site are also selling your customer purchase information off for the highest dollar – letting merchants better target you to force you to buy more stuff.
• To make matters worse, the sold customer data also includes emails. Why is this a problem? Typically, sellers don’t receive contact information for customers who leave negative reviews. This gives merchants the power to reach out to angry customers and “placate them” in exchange for changing the review – and that’s a problem.
• Amazon, which we all know is spearheaded by Jeff Bezos, says they are “investigating.” But given how hard they’ve been cracking down on fake reviews (or so they SAY) it seems really unusual that they “weren’t aware of the issue” before now. Something is rotten in Denmark!
• In Amazon’s defense, the company apparently said that it knows the payoffs are happening, but manipulators are being extremely careful about it. Instead of contacting merchants directly, they’re going through intermediaries, like WeChat, making it very hard to track down who’s participating.
• The company also said that the bulk of the manipulation is happening in China, where retailers export massive amounts of cheaply-made, potentially dangerous inventory to the United States. Poor manufacturing standards invariably lead to bad reviews, but it’s easy to erase them with this black market for corrections.
• Amazon did release a statement, but it feels more like lip service than anything else. “We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them.” But why haven’t they done so before now?
• This is far from the only questionable issue within the company, either. They also stand accused of near human rights violations – including forcing employees to work faster than is humanly possible and firing people just to keep others on their toes.
• In fact, many of the company’s past warehouse workers claim the job felt like working in a sweatshop. In Essex, in the UK, workers at the newest warehouse claimed that Amazon forced them to work so long and so hard some of them “slept on their feet” for minutes at a time to compensate.