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…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.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.
Was 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.
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?
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.