Remember when gadget companies like Aukey, Mpow, RavPower, Vava, TaoTronics, and Choetech began mysteriously disappearing from Amazon’s online storefront, only to discover that Amazon had purposefully yanked them while obliquely referencing the sanctity of its user reviews?
They turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Amazon has confirmed that it has permanently banned over 600 Chinese brands across 3,000 different seller accounts.
Amazon says that’s the total after five months of its global crackdown, and it’s not hiding why: a spokesperson tells us that these 600 brands were banned for knowingly, repeatedly, and significantly violating Amazon’s policies, particularly those related to review abuse.
A report about how companies like RavPower offered gift cards in exchange for reviews prompted Amazon’s crackdown.
In 2016, Amazon outlawed the practice of paying for positive reviews, but it’s still a tricky business: some of these deals are disguised as a VIP testing program or an extended warranty.
Other companies only offer incentives after you’ve left a negative review — they’ll give you a free product or a “refund” of free money with no strings attached if you delete your negative review.
It’s unclear which other Chinese brands may be targeted by Amazon’s latest crackdown, and it’s possible that some of their products will slip through the cracks. Despite the fact that Aukey was one of the first high-profile companies to be banned in May, the company was still selling earbuds under a sub-brand in July, and you can still get a pair on Amazon today.
According to a news outlet, the parent company of Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology (more commonly known as YKS) reported in early July that Amazon had closed 340 of YKS’s online stores and frozen over $20 million in its assets. According to the publication, YKS is one of the platform’s largest Chinese retailers.
Amazon’s full statement is as follows:
Amazon works hard to build a great experience in our store so that customers can shop with confidence and sellers have the opportunity to grow their business amid healthy competition. Customers rely on the accuracy and authenticity of product reviews to make informed purchasing decisions and we have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features. We suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies, wherever they are in the world.
We will continue to improve abuse detection and take enforcement action against bad actors, including those that knowingly engage in multiple and repeated policy violations, including review abuse. We are confident that the steps we take are in the best interests of our customers as well as the honest businesses that make up the vast majority of our global selling community.
According to the Shenzhen Cross-Border E-Commerce Association, the crackdown has prompted some Chinese merchants to increase their investments in international online retail platforms such as eBay and AliExpress.
AliExpress is a major business under Alibaba Group Holding, which also owns the South China Morning Post. It is a global marketplace for overseas consumers to buy directly from Chinese manufacturers and distributors.