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Belkin admits paying for positive Amazon reviews

By Barry Collins

Posted on 19 Jan 2009 at 09:31

Peripherals manufacturer Belkin has admitted it paid people to write positive reviews of its products on Amazon.

The story came to light after The Daily Background blog spotted an advert on Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, seeking people to write positive reviews of a Belkin wireless hub.

Not only was the hired help paid $0.65 to write five-star reviews of the router, they were also instructed to "Mark any other negative reviews as 'not helpful' once you post yours."

The job was posted by Michael Bayard, who according to his LinkedIn profile, is (or at least, was) Belkin's business development representative. Bayard had apparently posted dozens of other similar requests for other Belkin products.

In a statement, Belkin admits that Bayard was paying for positive reviews, but claims it wasn't company policy.

"It was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment," the company claims.

"Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this.

"We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened," adds the company's president, Mark Reynoso.

"We will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost," he concludes.

Belkin claims it's removed the adverts from the Mechanical Turk service and is working with Amazon to take down the paid-for plugs.

However, the company hasn't stated whether Bayard has been sacked. A UK Belkin spokesperson told PC Pro that she couldn't comment on the fate of the employee, but that "as far as I'm concerned, a shadow has been brought over the company, and serious action will be taken."

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