The New York Times shines a light on one of the more disreputable yet obvious practices of e-commerce: paying customers to write good reviews for something on The Times cites an online operation called VIP Deals:
Searching for a protective case for their new Kindle Fire, (shoppers) came upon the VIP page selling a cover for under $10 plus shipping (the official list price was $59.99). When the package arrived it included a letter extending an invitation “to write a product review for the Amazon community.”
“In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free,” it said.
Anne Marie Logan, a Georgia pharmacist, was suspicious. “I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ ” she said. “But they credited my account. You think it’s unethical?”
Yes, Ms. Logan. It is. Amazon has since taken down all reviews for the protective case mentioned in the gusher of positive reviews. The FTC mandates that any connection between a merchant and someone promoting a product must be disclosed so the paid customer reviews are not really customer reviews, they’re commercials.

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