Affiliates and Merchants, Stay Away from Fake Reviews

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Fake is as old as the Eden tree.
— Orson Welles

Blogs, forums and other websites that allow room for such elements of online social interaction as customer reviews are still a great way to promote merchants through affiliate programs. One thing to keep in mind though is the fact that faking reviews is not only unethical, but it is now also being prosecuted by attorneys general.

Earlier this week The State of New York fined a cosmetic surgery company $300,000 for fabricated reviews. The New York Times wrote:

The company had ordered employees to pretend they were satisfied customers and write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure on Web sites, according to the attorney general’s statement. Lifestyle Lift also created its own sites of face-lift reviews to appear as independent sources.

One e-mail message, discovered by the attorney general’s office, told employees to “devote the day to doing more postings on the Web as a satisfied client.”

I think this is a good precedent. Both affiliates, and merchants have something to learn from it. The Internet is giving us not only a larger reach, but also a responsibility. It is good to see things becoming more transparent, and hence authentic.

4 thoughts on “Affiliates and Merchants, Stay Away from Fake Reviews

  1. I have come across more of these fake review sites and posts than I care to even mention. I have seen instances such as this in general, as well as with AWeber.

    Just recently, I noticed a lengthy AWeber review, with key selling points about AWeber. The thing is … 2 of the top 3 points were so inaccurate it was almost painful to read

    I then contacted the affiliate to point out the mistakes and took the time to carefully elaborate on what was wrong and how we could go about correcting the misinformation.

    So what do they do?

    Turn around post the same exact post with the same wrong information several days later 🙂

    You can imagine how excited I was to see that there was a great two-way communication with this affiliate.

    Needless to say I took the needed action, but it makes one think…

  2. @Ron: Yes, this is definitely something for affiliate program managers to monitor more closely now.

    @Matt: While these weren’t affiliate reviews — but rather “reviews” made up by the company’s employees — this doesn’t make this company’s tactic any less “cynical, manipulative and illegal” as Mr. Cuomo put it.

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