Amazon, you hit like a bitch.

It’s taken me a bit of time to write this post, but I figured it’s about time to share the utter nonsense that’s happened between me and Amazon, and how a company that I once highly respected, has now become one that I have zero respect for.

I’ve thought about writing this post for weeks, what I would say and how I would capture everything that’s happened, and I’ll be honest with the fact that this post has taken on many forms, but finally I decided that it would just be easiest to state the facts.

So here it goes…

IMG_0376

This is the first email I got from Amazon.

As some of you know, on February 24th I was sent an email from Amazon letting me know that I could no longer post reviews on their website, and that all of my previous reviews had been suppressed or removed. In case you’re wondering, that was well over 300 reviews that I had written in my over 2 years of book blogging.

All gone in an instant because Amazon decided that I was “manipulating product reviews.”

I don’t even know what that means for Amazon. I have no idea why my reviews were deemed manipulating or misleading, and when I asked for clarification on this, you know what I got? I got an email from them saying they weren’t going to give me any information or “evidence” as to why this all happened.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let me backtrack a bit.

About 2 minutes after I opened my email and found out I was no longer able to review on Amazon, I called customer service because I wanted an answer. Really, I wanted someone to tell me what the hell was going on, why they were doing this, and what they even meant by “manipulating product reviews” since I was sure that I had never done that.

I was so frustrated, so upset, and I will admit that I was near tears because of all of this.

That customer service representative I talked to had no idea what to do with me and my issue, and as it was also 7 o’clock in the morning, she couldn’t talk to anyone who worked in the online communities department because they weren’t there yet. She told me she would forward what was going on to them, and that they would call me back within 24 hours.

Well funnily enough, 24 hours came and went, and I got no phone call. Can’t say I’m shocked about that one.

So that’s when round 2 of calling customer service came, and over 48 hours after I first called Amazon about this, I tried again. That customer service representative also had no idea what to do with me, but after about 10 minutes on hold, they informed me that they had submitted a form to the online communities department about my inquiry as to why I was banned and why my reviews were removed. This representative informed me that I should get a reply within 2 days.

And he wasn’t lying. I got a response alright, and that response is by far one of the worst displays of customer service I’ve ever seen. (And this is coming from a girl who worked in retail for many years.)

Amazon sent me a *lovely* email telling me they found my reviews to be manipulating or misleading, yet I still had no clarification on what that actually meant, and that they were not going to give me any other information about this. They also added that they were probably not going to respond back to further emails about this issue, and then added that they could only respond via email to questions about reviews.

The second, even more *helpful* email I received from Amazon.

The second, even more *helpful* email I received from Amazon.

That’s when I started scratching my head a bit.

So Amazon can only respond to my questions about my reviews, why there were removed, and why this was all happening via email, but as they say “we may not reply to further emails about this issue.”

That seems a bit like an oxymoron to me, but what do I know? I’m just a school teacher who’s passionate about book blogging.

Basically what I got from that is that I can only email them about this whole thing, but they’re probably not actually going to respond to me.

Super helpful Amazon. For a multibillion dollar company, their customer service with this was horrendous in my opinion, and I really don’t think it was too much to ask for to speak to a human being on this issue.

If you’re going to remove my reviews and ban me forever, the least you can do is talk to me in person.

Right? Apparently not though, since all I got was that email.

So where did that leave me?

Well that left me angry and frustrated and with no reviews on Amazon. It also left me scrambling to try to figure out what this would mean for me as a book blogger. Luckily all my reviews were saved to my Goodreads account, so they weren’t fully gone, but that still left me pissed and unsure of what this would all mean going forward.

And when I get pissed, I act, so you know what I did? I calculated how much support I had given Amazon over the last year.

Now I’m not a numbers person, but you can’t deny numbers and facts, so here it goes:

  • In 2015 I spent roughly $1,441.33 on books on Amazon. That’s a combination of over 344 e-books, paperbacks, and Audible books. (And let me remind you, that’s just for 2015. That doesn’t include the money I spent in the 2 years before when I started buying e-books and paperbacks through Amazon.)
  • As of February 28th 2016 I had already spent $163.17 on Amazon on e-books, Audible books, and pre-orders.
  • Between 2015 and 2016 I have done giveaways on my blog for over $196 dollars’ worth of e-books and gift cards from Amazon. ($115 of that was gift cards to get people to buy things on their website.)
  • I’ve also been a member of their Amazon Associates Program since 2015, meaning that on a daily basis, multiple times a day, I promote Amazon and their products on my blog and my blog’s Facebook page.

And what did Amazon do to thank me for that daily promotion and my almost daily purchases from them?

They banned me.

They didn’t ban me from buying things from them of course, but from giving my honest reviews of the products I purchased.

They also removed hundreds of reviews I worked my ass of on, and for what reason?

Oh wait. They won’t give me a clear reason.

tumblr_mc32p3pxMR1qc8jh0o2_250Was it because I “know” authors? Well let me tell you Amazon, I wish I knew even a fraction of the authors that I’ve read books from. I wrote a review for Grey by E.L. James that you removed. If you think I know her then I would gladly give up my reviews to say that, but newsflash, I don’t know her. (Even though I wish I did, because I think she’s pretty amazing.) I don’t know Sylvia Day, or Abbi Glines, or Jodi Ellen Malpas, or Colleen Hoover either, or the other authors’ books that I’ve reviewed on your website. (And believe me, I wish I could say that I knew them, but alas I don’t.)

I would say I probably know 5 or 6 authors, tops. And if you don’t want me to review a book of theirs, that I can understand, but removing all of my reviews? I don’t get that at all.

And while we’re on that topic, how do you even determine that I “know” those authors? What formulas or tactics do you use to figure that out? Because I’d seriously like to know.

Was I banned because I like the books I read too much? Is it because almost every book I read is 4 or 5 stars, or is it because my book reviews are super detailed and long? Well let me tell you something Amazon, after being an avid reader my entire life, I have a pretty damn good idea of what I like to read. I know what I’ll love, and when I love a book I love it hard, and I write reviews that show that. I want to spread the book love, which is why I’m a fucking book blogger in the first place, and I’m not going to waste money on a book I know I won’t like, just so I can give it 2 stars and not be deemed as being a “misleading or manipulative reviewer” by you.

Was I banned because your computer system deemed me to be paid or fake based on whatever wonky system you have? Well let me tell you, I make absolutely ZERO dollars every year reviewing books, and I spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars buying books. (It’s kind of my thing, if you couldn’t tell.) In fact, to date I’ve only been paid out once by the Amazon Associates Program, and that was a $10 gift card TO AMAZON. That I gladly spent on Amazon, as it was the only place I bought e-books from.

Whatever Amazon’s reason for doing all this is, I will probably never know. And you know what? It is what it is at this point. I unfortunately have no control over the crappy things Amazon tries to do, and since they won’t give me a reason, I’m done looking for one.

I’m sure many of you at this point, including Amazon, are thinking, well what’s the big fucking deal? It’s a book review.Jon Stewart

Well to me it is a big deal. Book reviewing and blogging is my passion. It’s something that helps keep me sane from my daily on the go life, and it’s what I LOVE to do. So to remove hours and hours of work that I did, to remove reviews that I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into, and to ban me from supporting books and authors pretty much feels like a slap in the face.

Especially after all of the support I’ve given Amazon over the past few years.

It may not be a big deal to Amazon, but is sure is hell is to me and countless other reviewers who have had the same thing happen to them.

I get it Amazon, it’s your company and you can do what you want, but one of these days you’re going to realize that it’s bloggers like me that bring people to your website, that tell people to buy your shit, and support you in countless ways…and by that point it’ll be too late.

Because you’ll have probably banned us all.

So now, over a month later, what am I supposed to do?

Stop book blogging over all this crap? Stop being an avid reader and a huge supporter of authors because of all this? Stop writing book reviews or change the way I write them because I can’t post them to Amazon?

That’s a big hell to the no. anigif_optimized-28150-1440411350-1

Because if I did that, Amazon would win, and they don’t get to fucking win with this, or tell me what I can and can’t do.

Sure I can’t review on their website anymore, and to that I say good riddance, and fuck you.

What they did shows a hell of a lot more about their company and its ridiculousness, than it does about my book reviews.

What I can do is keep reading, and reviewing (on my blog and other retailers), and telling readers about the books that I love while supporting hard working authors who deserve a damn book review.

I can also tell people about what’s happened to me with Amazon, and how it’ll probably happen to them sooner rather than later because let’s face it: Amazon makes their own rules, and they just don’t care about the ramifications those rules have.

It also means that I can be a smarter consumer with whom I choose to give my money to when I buy books and other products. 

Today is April 3, 2016. The sun is shining, it’s springtime, and yeah I’m still banned from reviewing on Amazon and that still kind of pisses me off, like a lot, but at the end of the day, I won’t let one company’s ridiculous policies and handling of this situation keep me from doing what I want to do.

I won’t let them keep me from being the book blogger I want to be. I won’t let their asinine system keep me from spreading the book love and supporting authors, and I won’t let them keep me down or stop me from being a passionate book reviewer.

So that’s what I have to say.

Amazon, you hit like a bitch.

And you know what?

You’re not going to stop me and my book loving brigade.

Not one little bit.

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177 thoughts on “Amazon, you hit like a bitch.

  1. Reblogged this on indieventiondesigns.wordpress.com and commented: As an Indie-Author, we depend on reviews from our readers. So for this to happen to such an avid reader/reviewer is total BS.

  2. Exact same thing happened to me, almost exactly a month ago also, but they didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me they’d done it. I wrote about it also; if nothing else it was cathartic. http://www.grantleishman.com/my-blog/raped-and-pillaged As an author, I was too scared to even approach them. I’ve heard horror stories of other authors having their books removed from Amazon after complaining. Nevertheless, after reading your blog I decided – to hell with it. They didn’t even tell me they were doing it, so I emailed them this morning. I will wait with bated breath for their response; which will be a mean nothing, corporate-speak response no doubt, but at least I asked.

    The joke’s on them a little bit as my highly critical blog also appears on my Amazon Author page, so it they spot that, they’ll probably have conniptions. Anyway, my heart and understanding is with you. It is a gutting feeling, especially when it is undeserved.

    Have reblogged your blog. Well written and enjoyable! “Non-Carborundum” Don’t let the bastard grind you down.

    • I learned a while back that if you gather a link from an author that is beyond their ASIN, that Amazon rejects reviews. I’ve been building my reader base and have asked bloggers to read my books and post their honest review. I don’t know them. They don’t know me. Here is an example.

      Here is my author link: http://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Ren%C3%A9e/e/B0052XUP2I

      However, if Amazon attaches a reference code, my link becomes http://www.amazon.com/K.R.-Steam/e/B0052XUP2I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

      The reference code links people together. This allows Amazon to argue that people know each other if the link with the reference code (which has an embetted time and date) is used for a second time. So, if you gather the link with a reference code, they may allow you to post a review or they may instantly decline. If your account uses that same reference code more than once, it’s obvious that the link was given to you (even if you searched for the author, saved the link, and then later pulled that same link again).

      Plus, it has been picked up that Amazon has been doing this for a while. I’ve lost out on a lot of book reviews due to the reference code issue.

      Here are some reference links that may assist you in winning your war.

      https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/07/amazon_is_analy.html

      http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/Blog/how-writers-ruin-their-amazon-links-yes-you-probably-do-it-too/

      • @thekellyrenee

        When this mess first started happening I made sure that when I leave reviews (on all the sites) I just search on the site for the book by title and/or author. That way there are no affiliate links or whatever spooky tracking crap to link me to anyone else. So far, so lucky, but I hate to speak too soon.

  3. I despise Amazon. Not only did they take down almost 50 of my book’s reviews, but after I signed the petition and then wrote a couple of emails asking why they were paying it no mind my sales mysteriously tanked. I had readers telling me they were buying the book and reading on KDP and I had nothing reported!!! I think they’re hiding my book or something because it has only gotten worse. We all need to start buying from Smashwords. You can still read on a Kindle. Just download the Mobi, right click and choose open with Kindle!

  4. Holy crap this is awful. I AM SO SORRY. All the hugs. ❤ Gosh. It sounds so bad 😦 I would be hurt too. And then they email all of that shit. Uuuugh. So not okay. Hugs. I'm sorry sweetie. ❤ I hope they will remove it. Ugh. I did not know that Amazon could do such a thing o.O Now I'm all kinds of worried too. Ugh.

  5. This is awful. I’ve said so many times that I’m going to stop using Amazon but I always cave–mostly for things like superglue and paper towels (it’s so much easier to order things online than take the time to go out and purchase them) and I try and save my book-buying for actual bookstores, but I’d by lying if I said I didn’t throw a book in with pretty much every one of my orders. You’ve reinvigorated my desire to boycott, so we’ll see how it goes this time.

  6. Every time Amazon asks me to review a purchase I write to their customer services and tell them I am an author. I inform them I am unable to post a review on my recent purchase as I have created a relationship between myself and the vendor by buying the item, which in keeping with their policy on authors, forbids me from posting a review. So far they haven’t responded, which is no surprise.

  7. I can’t understand the reason for banning reviews. You read the books you like, I’m guilty of that. You post a good review, which can only help sales. That means more money in Amazon’s pocket. That’s what confuses me about the whole review issues they are having. Good luck!

    • Amen to that, Deb. They’re only kicking themselves in the teeth doing this. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if people know me or not. If you like my books, great! If not, that’s fine too. The truth is, authors are READERS TOO! How Amazon doesn’t know that is beyond me.

    • Amen to that, Deb. They’re only kicking themselves in the teeth doing this. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if people know me or not. If you like my books, great! If not, that’s fine too. The truth is, authors are READERS TOO! How Amazon doesn’t know that is beyond me.

  8. Have you appealed straight to Jeff Bezos? I think his email is jeff at amazon dot com. A few other bloggers I’ve heard of (through other author friends) have appealed straight to Jeff and had their reviews and reviewing accounts reinstated. So maybe that’s worth a shot? I hope you get reinstated soon! Amazon is being a d*ck about this.

  9. You better keep blogging your reviews – I read and count on them. I do not have enough time in my day to “guess” what my next read is like, so it wonderful that you do this for us! THANK YOU!! now – a bit of info…the money you spent is barely a drop in the ocean to them…they have grown waaaayyy beyond having decent customer service. When they tapped into the handmade market to try to be bigger than Etsy, that was the worst move they could have ever made. I don’t care how many people go to Amazon for what ever reasons, if you are a Handmaker of anything, you should have more pride, respect and worth for your self and your art! amazon could care less!! its just another buck to them, and more in their attempt to monopolize all avenues of everything sellable. I understand your venting (and yes, I get so angry at things that I break into tears – then it just makes me madder – LOL), but I have also learned how to manage mine. The saying “what goes around, comes around” truly does exist – I have been a party to actually seeing this happen a few times in my life. Yes, amazon may have what you are looking for (mainly now because it is all drop-shipped), but there is no more customer service with them. You buy something and if there’s a problem they will simply send you to the actual company that dropships through them (I know how this works because I am one for natural gardening supplies and information). They no longer feel the need to actually “service” the people that buy on their site….they dropship, affiliate, people pay to advertise on their site – tons of areas of income from tons of sources – no more bothering with the little people. Sad but true…something starts out really good, then gets greedy and too big for its britches, and then forgets how they got there in the first place.
    Please do not stop your reviews just because of them. I know I (and others I am sure) will keep sharing your posts! Thank you again!!

  10. Pingback: Amazon, you hit like a bitch. | mskind81's Blog

  11. Keep on doing what you do! You might get a kick out of what happened to a company called “Mekong” in my forthcoming novel, SHADOW OF THE HARE. “Mekong was the biggest self-publishing outlet and also the biggest story merchant. Their takeover of the remaining print publishers in the 2020s marked the beginning of the end for print books as well as for anything resembling freedom of public expression.” But shhhh! Don’t tell Amazon! They might ban my book!

  12. You should keep emailing Amazon. Don’t give up. I have seen some reviewers get reinstated, so it looks like accounts may be flagged and purged by some kind of software, then when looked at by a person (eventually), reviewing ability is restored and all of the suppressed reviews are again visible. Keep bothering Amazon and get your reviews back!

    But shop some where else.

  13. I’m sorry to read about all this happening to you. I’m not a regular follower here; I found the link on another blog. But I’m wondering about this because I know a number of authors/big bloggers whose success is dependent on their fans’ reviews going up the first day or shortly thereafter, or before the book actually goes on sale . . . I haven’t analyzed the system. But there is a system. Some even have special groups of reviewers who, in exchange for reviews, get free books and other stuff. This may be common knowledge or maybe not. But I’m wondering whether Amazon’s motivation with the reviewer bans might have something to do with that. That “Amazon best seller” status isn’t just about a well-written book; it’s about the number of reviews (most, at least at first, know the author even if they just know him or her from following the blog or taking a course etc.), and sometimes the book isn’t all that great, as I’ve seen.

    And maybe you’re just caught in the middle of it all. Maybe Amazon can’t think of any motivation other than that for writing so many reviews. I wonder myself. What’s in it for the reviewer? Why do you write so many reviews? (just wondering as Amazon might be). I assume it’s just a hobby, something you enjoy. But others don’t see it that way. Why write if you’re not getting paid in some way?—that’s the thinking.

    Also, they might be restricting communication to email only so there’s a record. I do the same thing on the rare occasion I need documentation.

    Hope that helps. Again, sorry to hear about this. Businesses can be ruthless sometimes, but they have their reasons even if they can’t explain them to everyone. (I’m not that fond of Amazon, actually, but they are a business with ways of doing things).

  14. I gave up on Amazon way back and am concentrating on getting more readers on other platforms. The ethos of giving the customer what they want on Amazon seems to have slipped a bit. Try putting humorous fantasy into the search. Some days it works but most days any books in the top 100 results that are actual fantasy are as rare as unicorn pooh. Most are romance books with fantasy as their sub genre. This I’d because they put all the books in prime first and weight it more for sales. I’m hearing of readers who are getting fed up with this and migrating to other platforms. As an author I’m finding that more and more of my sales come from other platforms as Amazon takes more and more steps to punish me for publishing my books elsewhere.

    In short, if Amazon don’t act fast they’ll break their own monopoly on the ebook market with their crappy customer service.

    You have my sympathy. They do stupid, random, draconian things to the wrong people for no reason and always have. Good luck and God bless. I’d say dust Amazon off your sandals and start reviewing on Kobo and iBooks instead.

    All the best,

    MTM

  15. I’m sorry this happened to you. If you have a review on your blog, and you use your Associates link to connect to the book on Amazon, you’re technically making money from your reviews. Even if it’s only enough to buy a $10 Amazon gift card. Amazon is concerned that you’re giving false positive reviews so that readers will click on the link to buy the book and you’ll get a percentage of the sales. It’s ridiculous, but that’s probably why they banned you and pulled down your reviews.

  16. I’m so sorry this happened to you. But you probably have more of a following here than you ever did at Amazon. I’ve been reviewing there since 2001, and it has become less and less fun every year. I keep doing it since I know it helps authors, but I sure don’t do it for Amazon.

  17. Reblogged this on Wyndy Dee and commented:
    Amazon “corners” the market and makes their own rules to suit their situation. I, too, have had reviews removed but not been banned…yet. I’m not near as busy doing reviews as you but I spend plenty on eBooks. If I wasn’t such a supporter of my authors and their need for it, I’d be gone. It’s a necessary evil for Indie authors, and that’s a damn shame! I’m sorry for your pain, truly. You’re not the first and unfortunately, won’t be the last.

  18. I laughed at this title. Because only two times have I had the wind knock out of me. And both times were by my dog, Charlie, a bitch. So yeah. Amazon leaves you breathless? So don’t compare hitting like a bitch until one has hit you. Yeah. Ouch!! Lol 😉

  19. When this policy of taking down reviews for knowing authors was first hinted at, a couple of bloggers tweeted screen shots of how to unlink your other social accounts (Facebook and Twitter) from your Amazon account; which I immediately did. They also suggested that we unfriend authors on Goodreads and just follow them, but you know what? Those first few authors friending me on Goodreads gave me joy beyond joy, so I thought no, you know, I am not going to to that! However, when they went public with this “linked to author” thing they made it sound like the only reviews that would be taken down were the “offending” reviews, not the entire catalog of reviews. That is way more scary. I still don’t think I will unfriend them, though. I do the same as you and use the exact same reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so I would still have my copies if they did that. You should transfer all of your reviews to Barnes and Noble. At least they will be back out there for the general public to see. Good luck. I hope someday with enough poking and prodding, you will get an answer. I will certainly share this post on all of my social sites.

  20. This is absolutely terrible. I would feel so hurt as well if it happened to me (and now I’m concerned about it happening to me). I’m glad that this isn’t stopping you from doing what you love, though!

    -Jordan @ The Heart of a Book Blogger

  21. Reblogged this on writerlywitterings and commented:
    One lady’s complaint. She won’t get anywhere, but she deserves to have her voice heard. It’s despicable for a company to ban people without explanation and without right of appeal. It shows what happens, I guess, when a firm gets to such a monopolistic position.

  22. I’ve came to your blog via another that mention the shit that you are going through. I just can’t believe it and I hope you manage to get an answer, Amazon should be clamping down on the trolls who leave fake reviews rather than people who love books and are passionate about sharing their love.

  23. Pingback: Links to blog posts on writing – April 2016 | Anna Butler

  24. I’m sorry this happened to you. I read your blog & every single reply and boy did I get educated! Now I see why I was counseled to sell and ship my own book. Hey, can’t you review for Barnes and Noble?
    Amazon sucks!!! Please keep blogging and reviewing. And stay on top of this.

  25. Pingback: Bounty Obtained and Explained #2 - Trying Something New - Literary Treasure Chest

  26. Just happened to me too. I got no notice, no warning, just suddenly couldn’t review anymore. CSRs had no clue what happened and told me it would be fixed soon. Got reviewer status back for less than 24 hours before it was revoked again, this time with an email saying I violated their “Customer Review Creation Guidelines” and that the decision was final. No information on how or why. I won’t be renewing Prime, referring through Affiliates/blog/social media, or really buying much of anything from them ever again. You are right. If they ban much more of us, their sales will take a hit.

  27. Pingback: Three Years of Blogging and All I Really Want to Say is Thank You. | The Never Ending Book Basket

  28. Pingback: Bounty Obtained and Explained #3 - Trying Something New - Literary Treasure Chest

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