In case you missed it, here’s a pointer to a recent Times story concerning baked reviews on Amazon and the like. In it, David Streitfeld describes how one company gave rebates to customers in exchange for five star reviews. They even seem to have a claque to address detractors–
Even a few grouches could not spoil the party. “This is an egregious violation of the ratings and review system used by Amazon,” a customer named Robert S. Pollock wrote in a review he titled “scam.”
He was promptly chastised by another customer. This fellow, himself a seller on Amazon, argued that he had both given and gotten free items in exchange for reviews. “It is not a scam but an incentive,” he wrote.
You might recall the hysteria surrounding recent Federal Trade Commission rules on sponsored endorsements by bloggers. The agency had this type of situation in mind–average consumers, without any understanding of the rules or “ethics” of advertising are pimping products to others. It’s unfair to competitors and other consumers. And it totally messes up my default shopping strategy of just buying the highest rated [insert product here] on Amazon!