I contacted Amazon about my reviews being removed. Yes, this will be long because let’s face it, it’s Amazon we’re talking about, but it might be worth the read if you are having your reviews removed as well.
I have been in contact with Amazon multiple times this week. On Monday, 4/18, I contacted them via email, twice via chat and finally over the phone to figure out why my reviews have been removed and why I’ve been blocked from adding reviews for ONLY two authors.
First I submitted an email because I wanted an explanation as to why my review was removed, obviously. This is what they said:
“We removed your Customer Review because our data shows elements of your Amazon account match elements of the seller’s Amazon account. In these cases, we remove the review to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.”
After receiving this email, I had a hard time understanding why my account had “matching elements” to this author’s account as I am not an author myself. So, I decided to chat with Amazon. First, I was sent to Victor who frankly was a jerk and I ended the chat with him because I knew I wouldn’t get very far with him. My second time, I spoke with Patrick. God bless him, he said that my reviews being accepted but later removed was “unacceptable”. That’s right Patrick. You go Patrick! This is unacceptable! He said that Amazon should contact me within 24 hours. Did they? Of course not.
I finally decided to call since it’s now Friday and I still hadn’t heard back from them. Of course. After much discussion I was told that I have a seller account on Amazon. I first asked her where I would be able to see that and she said “on your account” so I guess I wasn’t detailed enough. I then responded with “tell me WHERE I would be able to see that I’m a seller on my Amazon account”, sigh she put me on hold. When she came back she wasn’t able to tell me where. So, I of course asked “Please tell me what I’m selling. You are on my account so you can clearly see that I’ve never sold anything.” She decided to ignore my question and tell me that once this issue with me not being a seller was removed from my account that my reviews would no longer get blocked or removed. This meant that she had to transfer me to the Amazon Seller Customer Service line. They weren’t in office yet, go figure, so she had to submit an inquiry. ::Banging my head against desk:: I took it upon myself to look myself and I still can’t find where it states that I’m a seller. I then googled Amazon Seller Customer Service and went to Contact Us. There was a handy little option that said “I have a question that’s not listed” so I selected it and BAM! I was greeted with “Sorry, you are not an authorized Seller Central user.”
HMM you mean I’m not a seller??? WTF Amazon. Yes, I called them back. I then spoke with Chris. He seemed confused, not surprising. He didn’t understand what I was explaining to him at all. Through my frustration after repeating myself multiple times (which I HATE), I asked him if he was even in the United States. Nope, why would he be. He obviously wasn’t able to help me so I told him to transfer me to someone who could because I was not going to discuss this with him any more. Thus, I was transferred to Seller Support who after I explained the entire situation from start to finish told me that it doesn’t appear as if I have a seller account. No kidding!! Of course she still has to send an inquiry over to another team to confirm that I’m in fact not a seller. So now I have to wait another 24 hours to hear back. I mentioned to her that I was told that before and was never contacted and she just repeated that I had to wait 24 hours again. With another email sent over to support, I still don’t have any concrete answers….surprising!
Taking matters into my own hands AGAIN. I decided to hound Amazon on their Facebook page (oh yes I did!). Of course with each comment a different person responded. First Shari, Josh, then Josh F. I even watered down the situation a bit for them as they couldn’t message me through their Facebook page. After the fourth person, unwelcome Lyndsey, decided to chime in to repeat that I should check my spam for an email I never received. I once again let them know that I didn’t receive an email. They didn’t respond again after that. They also removed my post. This also tells me that when Amazon REMOVES our reviews, we are supposed to be notified. Huh? Who knew?
After the dead end with the Amazon Facebook page, I decided to give them a call because why not? I even went to the lengths of googling ‘Amazon Customer Service US Only.’ Imagine my surprise when a different number from the one I used earlier appeared. The first person I spoke with hung up on me after I explained my issue, so I called back. The next person was a tad bit more helpful. I didn’t have to repeat myself when explaining my situation. She then told me she would transfer me to the department that would be able to help me. Once transferred, I was then told that the previous person transferred me to the wrong department. Are you surprised by that? I’m not. So this person said that she would transfer me to the correct one. When David L. picked up, I was honest. I told him I was very frustrated with Amazon and unfortunately he was getting the brunt of it because I had already spoken to six other people. He said “no problem, tell me what’s going on.” So once again I explained the situation just for him to tell me that I was transferred to KDP which is support for AUTHORS! Yes, she transferred me to Kindle Direct Publishing. ::face palm:: Once again, they sent me to the WRONG department. He then said that he knows for sure that if you are family or share an address with the author that Amazon will remove your review due to it being biased. I explained that this was not the case so I was not sure why my reviews were being removed, I’m just a person who loves to read books by this author. He then said he understands, that he could see where Patrick sent an inquiry for me, unfortunately, Patrick sent it to the..guess what?…WRONG DEPARTMENT! You let me down Patrick, you really let me down. David L said that he would submit another inquiry to the correct department, the Communities Team, as they do not have a customer service number and that I would receive a confirmation email saying that this inquiry was sent and it would take 1 to 2 business days for me to hear back. He then would let them know that I had no relation to this author as well. How nice of you David L! I then asked David L, how Amazon would assume that I know this author when clearly nothing on my account is similar to hers, his response…”I’m not sure.” That seems to be the thing over at Amazon “I’m not sure.” Thank you David L for sending my issue to the right department. I did receive that confirmation email. I was going to give Amazon until Tuesday before I decided to hound them again if I didn’t hear back. I didn’t have to wait very long though.
I did get that response back from the Communities Team early Sunday morning (3 AM EST) and yes, it was basically the same thing that I heard earlier in the week. That my review was biased because my account had matching elements to the seller’s account. My favorite part of the email was the “Was this response helpful?” HELL NO. I submitted another email with 1 ratings for their so called response that isn’t valid if they can’t even tell me how MY account is related to an AUTHOR’S account.
This morning, 4/25, I was able to add my review to the paperback format. Will they keep it on there? Who knows but at this point, we as a blogging community need another place to post our reviews outside of Amazon that we can trust. I’m not sure goodreads is that place but regardless, we need more options that PR companies and authors will find as a sufficient substitute for Amazon. Dear Barnes and Nobles, please don’t take away Nook. I want to come back!
Total time spent on the phone with Amazon just to get an “I don’t know response” = 1 hour and 9 minutes
Total time spent via chat = 14 minutes
I received the following email in response to my 1 star rating of their helpfulness. Which still isn’t very helpful but they didn’t give me the option to rate them any more AND they still didn’t answer my question. After all this, as of now my review that I added on the paperback is still there (for now) but Amazon is not counting the rating. I can count that as a partial win as readers can at least see my review.