Amazon investigates the sale of customer data and the use of bribes to improve scores

Amazon has a major problem with its product analysis and positioning system. This is something in the public domain. The company has long done what it can to deal with promoted sales, items offered for free through unofficial channels in exchange for positive ratings, but the company is now dealing with a potentially more serious issue: the sale of data of its customers by employees. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is investigating this practice eminently focused on China, where there are more and more registered independent sellers. According to the story, employees of the company, through intermediaries, would offer detailed information on sales and even email addresses to improve the positioning of their products or amend negative ratings. 

Apparently Amazon would have detected several incidents of this type. The affected countries are unknown (the Chinese division would apparently be the most vulnerable, in part, the newspaper explains, because of its low salaries), but at least several United States employees would also have participated in the sale of data. Depending on the type of information, those involved would charge between 80 and 2,000 dollars.

In addition to having detailed information on sales and traffic, useful to position your products better, the vendors involved would also be interested in the email addresses of certain buyers. The problem for consumers is therefore not to risk buying a product full of false paid valuations, but the fact that these sellers would contact critical users to ask them to change their valuation. In return they could be offered free products or discounts.

More serious if it would be the use of bribes so that employees of Amazon eliminate the negative analyzes. Apparently some vendors have come to pay Amazon employees with the power to edit or delete reviews left by the buyers themselves. This work is done through intermediaries contacted through the Chinese application WeChat. According to the US newspaper, the cost of erasing a negative review is $ 300 and normally requires a minimum of five deleted texts, since intermediaries negotiate the deletion of comments in batches.

These intermediaries would also offer the interested stores lists with the keywords of the searches, data on sales volumes and certain statistics related to consumption habits. Armed with this valuable information (which Amazon treasures for itself), unscrupulous sellers manage to position their products at the top of the results. According to sources in The Wall Street Journal, for $ 80 you can buy information about the number of times that users searched for a certain product and clicked on its page, find out which sellers buy advertising and how much it costs them.

Amazon should stop this kind of situation if it wants to avoid major credibility problems. The issue of paid reviews was already compromising, but the fact that some sellers can access such extremely sensitive information has extraordinarily serious implications both for users, whose privacy is violated, and credibility, since not a few businesses are seriously harmed by this type of practice.