Some Amazon Reviewers Don’t Pay for the Stuff They Review

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Amazon organizes getting a bunch of free stuff for its top reviewers in exchange for their opinions about products. Does that affect how you look at the site's reviews?

We don’t always know where online reviews are coming from, and we know that some are fake.

But did you know that some super reviewers get sent free stuff in exchange for reviewing it? NPR’s Lisa Chow talked to the top reviewer on Amazon, Michael Erb, about that. Erb has relatively few reviews compared with some others at the top of the list — 868 compared with sometimes thousands. But his reviews have been ranked 96 percent helpful by consumers, and he currently holds the top slot.

Erb is part of Amazon’s elite reviewer club. “Erb is a member of Amazon Vine, an invitation-only program for the site’s top reviewers,” Chow says. Amazon sends him a list of items once a month or more, from which he picks a couple to review and keep, as long as he reviews them within a month. Through the program, he’s scored everything from cheap headphones to laser printers and spin bikes worth hundreds of dollars. He’s just not allowed to sell them, according to Chow.

Amazon’s justification for the program is to help consumers avoid biased reviews from customers who are upset about their experience more than the product — for instance, people who get their stuff late or have a bad interaction with the seller.

Do you suppose freebies skew reviews at all? Amazon apparently doesn’t. Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law told Chow those kind of reviews tend to have fewer stars on average.

The site’s policies also say it’s OK to review free stuff. Under guidelines for what is not allowed, Amazon lists “reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product.” As long as there isn’t money involved, it seems, Amazon doesn’t care.

What do you think of Amazon’s Vine program? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,060 more deals!