Friday, August 11, 2017

*Ahem*

*Blows dust off of keys* hmm. Appears to be working.

So. Alas, I haven't had any new stories to share that didn't involve work and incidents which were either under investigation or identifiable if someone local happened to stumble here, so I haven't been blogging. Most recently my spare time has been taken up with rebuilding a fence, putting together a honking big round pen, moving horses, and simultaneously thanking the weather gods for moisture and cursing the rain that makes said round pen an unusable muddy mess.

However, as most of my readers still dedicated enough to check on this blog probably already know, LawDog has published a couple of books containing the blog stories, with the second one going live as of yesterday, and waving the best-seller flag whilst still in pre-order. (Told ya so.)

Now, I'm notoriously bad about remembering to do things like go back and do reviews of books even when they're authored by dear friends and I thoroughly enjoy them. But, when the first book went live I duly hit up the Amazon website to post a review after I read it.

Because LD is a beloved friend, kin, family that I chose, blogdaddy, and other adjectives expressing love and admiration, I watched the reviews roll in with a certain sense of pride, and frankly curiosity.

And then I noticed something odd.

Mine was gone.

I looked. I went to my Amazon profile which apparently forgot that I ever posted a review on anything, ever... which could be understandable as to the best of my recollection I probably haven't posted a review to anything else, ever.

So I sent a message to Amazon support, along the lines of "um... wha happened?" thinking it was some sort of website error. The matter is escalated to a special team. I finally get an email back informing me that my review was deleted, advising me thusly:

"
Hello,

I hope this e-mail finds you well. This is Mervin from the Communities Team.

We are unable to post your Customer Review for "The LawDog Files" to the
Amazon website because our data shows elements of your Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product. In these cases, we remove the reviews to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. It is our goal to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions. Therefore, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will not be posted. This includes reviews by more than one customer in the same household.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Mervin V."


Um... what? The only possible other accounts that may have reviewed that product would be dad's, and the only similarity would be saved shipping addresses. So, off I go and click the "No" button under "Did I solve your problem?"

I wrote out a screed on my cell phone, whilst sleep deprived and sitting in a Burger King with Farmmom on a run for... I forget what, but we needed something so we went to get it in the town that has a Burger King, and decided that we wanted some of their breakfast croissants, which top the list currently for fast food breakfast-like objects in reverse order of flavor comparison to cardboard.

I took screen shots on my phone of the itty bitty text window all the way through my screed, but I'm not motivated enough to reproduce it here. Luckily, when I went to copy/paste their response into this post I discovered that they had included the text in their email, so you get it anyway.

" I received an email telling me that a review I posted had been removed because of similarities to another account in my account. The only thing I can think of is similarities in shipping addresses between my account and my father's account, because we buy things for each other and ship them directly.

So, is it
Amazon's policy that anyone who ships gifts to someone else cannot leave a review? I assure you I am a real customer, I bought the book, I read the book, and I left a review of the book. I was not paid to leave a review nor am I a bot or a review farm.

Right now, it looks a lot like my review was removed based on a policy that would basically prohibit family members who may live in the same household, but maintain their own
Amazon accounts, or anyone who may send or receive gifts from anyone with an Amazon account, from posting a review.

And if my review violated this obscure and apparently arbitrary policy, why was it allowed to go live in the first place? I have the email that told me it was live, I saw it on the product page. I wouldn't have even known it had been taken down, that I had violated this policy, if I hadn't been enthusiastic enough about the book to go back and see what other reviews had been left, because I did not receive any notice that it had been removed....

So please tell me if it is
Amazon's policy to remove reviews based on a similarity to another account without discussion with the account holder or any opportunity to address any apparent similarities and verify that the account is, indeed, a legitimate account and not a review farm or other sock puppet enterprise?

Right now, I am severely disappointed in
Amazon's review process as a whole, and wondering how many legitimate reviews have been arbitrarily deleted from your site... undermining the whole review process just as much as anything your policy is apparently intended to prevent.

Please explain to me exactly what made my account "similar" to another account, because I am currently highly unsatisfied with the explanation I have received so far!"


Well, apparently it is, since the next communication I got was over a week later, and went as follows:

"Hello,

We reviewed the information you provided and have determined that your review was removed in accordance with our guidelines. Our data shows elements of your
Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product. In these cases, we remove the review to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.

Once a review is removed because it does not comply with our guidelines, the reviewer may not submit any new reviews on the same product.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).

We cannot share any further information about our decision and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

Review Moderator
Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com"


So. Basically the same message, with no explanation of what elements are causing my review to be deleted, which would render reviewing the guidelines utterly useless, because I don't know which guideline has been violated, so I don't know what area would need adjusting before my opinion on anything for sale at Amazon would be "allowable."

Screw them and their review process. I am entirely thrilled for all of my friends who are enjoying publishing success using Amazon's platforms and I wish them many years of high rankings and lots and lots of money, but given my experience the review system is, as LD would put it, a load of bushwa.


Sorry about the font weirdness, but Blogger doesn't appear to like copy/paste from Gmail and I'm not patient enough at this point to track down the obscure setting that will straighten all that out.

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