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Changes in Amazon's Review Policy for Free and Discounted Products

Helena Ricketts loves doing reviews on the products and things that she uses every day and sharing her experiences with her readers.

How Do You Get Free or Discounted Products in Exchange for Reviews?

There are quite a few websites out there that were offering free or discounted products in exchange for a product review. It has been a great way to get things that you need or want at extremely low prices. The company sends you the product, and you provide your feedback on it.

The two sites that I have been using for a while now are AMZ Review Trader and SnagShout. They are both fantastic sites that are still operating, even though the rules have changed.

These sites have a lot of different products available, from kitchen items to home improvement items. You choose what you want to receive. Review Trader has a policy of the seller approving you before you are able to get the product, but SnagShout allows you to purchase or receive the product without seller approval. Both sites are great for getting these products.

String lights that I received for free

String lights that I received for free

Why Did Amazon Change Their Policy?

Product reviews have a huge bearing with customers and consumers. If a product consistently receives bad reviews, people will not continue to purchase that product. If a product consistently receives positive reviews, people will purchase the product.

Companies have always given away free or discounted products in the hopes of receiving customer feedback on their products. Do they like it? Are they telling their friends about it? Is there anything wrong with the product that needs to be improved? Companies depend on customer feedback to know for sure how well their product is made and how well it will perform.

Websites have popped up over the past few years that connect companies and customers for that very purpose. Companies join the website to offer their products at a discounted price, or sometimes even for free, in exchange for customer feedback in the form of a product review posted to the website.

Customers join the website so they can pick products that they are interested in and receive those products at a discount or for free in exchange for their opinion on how the product performs. They are supposed to use the product after they receive it and post their opinions and experience with that product.

Where it all went wrong was that instead of those customers posting their honest opinions of the products, they were posting positive reviews in hopes of acquiring more free or discounted products on product pages that were junk. The reviewers and customers that paid full price for these items realized that they were duped by the number of false reviews. This put the website's review integrity into question. Customers couldn't rely on the reviews to make an informed purchasing decision.

Example of questionable reviews on Amazon’s website

Example of questionable reviews on Amazon’s website

How Have the Discount/Free Review Sites Responded to Amazon's Policy Change?

As you can imagine, the websites that survive on connecting the sellers and consumers had to quickly make changes to comply with Amazon's new review policy guidelines. The two that I personally belong to quickly changed their websites and sent out emails to all of the customers that use their sites notifying them of the changes.

The sites are no longer requiring the customer to write a review when they receive their items. They quickly re-structured themselves to be a hub where customers who like free or discounted products can go to receive them. You can leave a review if you want, but it is not required.

The sites also instruct customers not to disclose that they received the product for free or at a discount if they do choose to write a review on the product that they received.

Amazon Review Trader’s blog response to the changes

Amazon Review Trader’s blog response to the changes

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Can I Still Write Reviews on Free or Discounted Products on Amazon?

Yes, if you want to chance it. The simple answer to that question, according to the two review sites that I am a member of, is yes, you can if you choose to. Amazon has made it very clear that they do not want those reviews on their site because the number of false positive reviews has caused a manipulation of the ranking system for certain products for sale on the website.

In other words, people have tainted the reviews. By reviewing a product that you receive at a discount or free, you are taking a huge chance on your review and posting privileges being terminated.

I have continued to request and receive discounted and free items from the sites that I use but from here on out, the only reviews that I will be posting on Amazon are for products that I pay full price for. Reviews for those other items will be going somewhere else on the web.

What Does the Future Hold for Free or Discounted Products on Amazon?

It depends on how the customers that acquire these products react. Companies will continue to send out free and discounted products to those that are willing to provide feedback on those products. If people stop providing feedback, then my guess would be that the companies will not continue to provide their products at the prices that they currently do. But is that really a bad thing? If the rumors are true that the majority of the sellers participating in this program are selling cheap junk, then it may be a blessing in disguise.

One look at your profile on Amazon and the companies will see if you are providing reviews for products or not. If you aren't writing reviews, it will be easy to tell, so don't expect the seller to approve you for the products that you request. If you do write the reviews, you are taking a chance on your posting privileges being revoked on Amazon's site. It's a bit of a conundrum, to say the least.

Only time will tell what will happen, but with the holiday shopping season coming up, it will be interesting to see what the final results are.

© 2016 Helena Ricketts


Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on October 15, 2016:

@MarleneB Unfortunately not all of them were. Those products were easy to spot because of the disclosure in the reviews and the differences between the good and the bad reviews. A lot of the free and discounted product reviews were 4 or 5 stars but when you read reviews from people that paid full price, the reviews told a completely different story. Not on all of the products but there were quite a few. There were some really nice items going through there too but unfortunately the 4 and 5 stars on overpriced junk ruined it for everyone. Amazon had to do something to fix it.

@Pamelaoo The sites are still active. In my opinion, Snagshout is the easiest of the two to use now. The discounts aren't a great but you don't have to wait for seller approval. People are saying they aren't getting the approvals they used to get through Review Trader.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 14, 2016:

Very informative, especially the video. I have been offering reviews for years. If I receive a free product, I feel it is an equitable exchange to provide a review. These new guidelines make sense, especially if people are offering dishonest reviews. I always provide my honest opinion whether I receive the product for free or pay full price. I did not realize other people were not being honest in their reviews.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 13, 2016:

I did not know about these other sites, so this article if very interesting. I have used Amazon frequently, but Kindle books are my most frequent I'll be checking out these other sites for sure.

Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on October 11, 2016:

Thank you. There are a lot of opinions floating around right now on this. I'm personally glad that Amazon took the step that they did. While I did enjoy getting the products, I do believe that not all of the reviews were accurate and it has definitely put Amazon's integrity in question through no fault of their own.

Koralee Phillips from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on October 11, 2016:

Interesting Hub, thanks for sharing and advice.

I didn't realize these types of sites were out there. It makes sense Amazon would change it's rules to keep the internet honest, or attempt to keep honest; specifically from a consumer's perspective. Fake positive reviews really lowers the integrity of Amazon.

Not to mention the effect on the reviewers integrity - intentionally lying to deceive consumers so they can get free, or discounted stuff.

That sounds judgmental, but I think over time it would negatively affect them in a number of ways.

Thanks again, your article is very well written, and informational.

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