New Rule: You Have to Have Spent $50 (Minimum) to Post a Review at Amazon

New Rule: You Have to Have Spent $50 (Minimum) to Post a Review at Amazon Amazon Reviews

Any system that is important enough to be measured is going to be gamed by cheaters, and Amazon's reviews section is no exception to that rule.

Amazon has fought back by suing over fake reviews, deleting reviews where the buyer appeared to have a relationship with the author,  filing for arbitration against scammers, and putting a cap on the number of reviews you can post without buying the product.

Now Amazon has revised its reviews policy yet again, this time to target scammers who open new Amazon accounts just to post a review.

To contribute to Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, Spark, or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don't qualify towards the $50 minimum.

It's good to see Amazon continue to fight scammers, but I don't know that this will have much impact. After all, a scammer can always buy the products they were hired to review and then charge their clients for a verified review.

This is basically a game of whack-a-mole, but fortunately, this time around authors won't get caught up in Amazon's fight against scammers.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

20 Comments

  1. Carmen Webster Buxton10 December, 2017

    I wonder how this applies internationally? I have a couple of reviewers who live in Scotland and Australia. The Australian one is great about logging on to Amazon US to post his review. I wonder if they will still let him do it? Hopefully, they won’t go back and delete it because it was a stellar and in-dept review!

    Reply
    1. Bob Rich30 April, 2018

      Carmen, I live in Australia and have exactly this problem. I tried to post a review, and can ONLY do so on their Australian site.
      This is a very counterproductive move.
      My reaction is to avoid buying ANYTHING from Amazon if I can get it anywhere else. I have complained, and I hope other writers, publishers and reviewers do so as well.

      Reply
  2. Ros Jackson10 December, 2017

    Have I missed something, because I thought Amazon.com already brought in this rule a few months back? However, I notice they now have it in Amazon UK – it’s a £40 minimum spend.

    I wonder if this will mean fewer .com reviews, but more posted to other countries’ sites?

    Reply
  3. Mackay Bell10 December, 2017

    I think the valid credit card (not a gift card) is as important as the $50 since it is pretty hard to set up a lot of fake credit card accounts. Not perfect, but at least it’s something.

    Reply
  4. New rule? This was introduced over a year ago.

    https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=319143&tstart=0

    It was widely reported at the time that books were exempt from this regulation.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder11 December, 2017

      no, what was widely reported was that books were exempt from the review cap which was announced a few months later. I don’t think anyone reported on this part of the policy when it was enacted.

      (edit: or at least that is what I recall; I could be wrong)

      Reply
  5. Anne R. Allen11 December, 2017

    This rule went into effect in the US in September, 2016, but a reminder is always useful. I reported the changes in my blog in October 2016. http://annerallen.com/2016/10/amazons-new-review-rules-should-authors-worry/
    “The New $50 Rule: To post a review, customers must spend at least $50.00 using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50.00 minimum. Customers in the same household cannot submit a review for the same product.” “

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder11 December, 2017

      think you may have been the only one to blog about it. Good catch!

      Reply
  6. D.R. Cootey11 December, 2017

    Most of my reviews are posted on Amazon by way of GoodReads or the Kindle. I wonder if I already met the $50 requirement, or if GoodReads is a backdoor.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 April, 2018

      Goodreads reviews end up on Amazon? I thought they didn’t.

      Reply
  7. S. J. Pajonas14 December, 2017

    I’m surprised you didn’t google this before posting about it. This has been a policy for over a year now. Not only did Anne R Allen post about it (her link is above) but several other sites covered the TOS change. https://sellics.com/blog-amazon-review-policy-fake-incentivized-reviews
    As far as I can tell, it has had little impact on scammers, though. 🙁

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder14 December, 2017

      Because several other sites, including Mad Genius Club (I linked to their post in the Morning Coffee) said it was new.

      Reply
  8. […] Amazon announced a new review policy to fight spammers. […]

    Reply
  9. Bob Rich30 April, 2018

    Until a couple of months ago, I was able to post a review of a book on every Amazon site I accessed. It is only this month that they prevented me from doing so because of this policy.

    Reply
  10. Ian Wardell25 May, 2018

    I posted a review of a book on the Amazon site on the 10th April this year (https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RUOLM1707T2HJ/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00UV3VFW8). I haven’t bought anything from the USA Amazon site since 2015. I buy loads of stuff from the UK Amazon site though, £100’s every year.

    I want to increase the star rating from 1 star to 2 stars (the author is moaning at my rating in the comments below the review), but I’m not even allowed to alter the star rating!

    Anyway, I could submit a review just over a month ago, but cannot do so now, so seems a recent policy?

    Surely the policy ought to depend on the *total amount* spent at Amazon in the previous year, not at a specific branch?

    Reply
  11. Bob Rich25 May, 2018

    This policy is very poorly thought out, and they haven’t considered unintended consequences such as yours.
    Like you, until recently I could post reviews on any Amazon site, Now, I am restricted to my own country.
    Another aspect is, why should a poor person not be able to give an opinion on a book?
    And why don’t the 15 Amazon sites share reviews, since they already share titles?
    I encourage you and everyone else affected to make a complaint. Please read my blog post about it at https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1fi

    Reply
  12. Anthony A Aguiar26 July, 2018

    $50.00 to make a statement of how good or bad something is?

    Read this one I am not with amazon prime now when I buy at amazon. I need to make a minimum purchase of $25.00 of amazon stuff before I can buy anything not amazon.

    They will not let you buy the none amazon item unless buy $25.00 amazon stuff. When I tried to check out they would only sell me the amazon stuff, amazon says they will hold the none amazon item for my next buying trip.

    When did it become OK to charge a minimum to buy in a store, no matter brick or on-line. So from now on I will buy at Walmart because they have an in store charge card and Walmart is also on-line. So amazon one stinky finger you know the middle one to you. If that is not clear UP YOURS

    Reply
    1. Phillip14 August, 2018

      This is rubbish (the review terms, not your post). I just bought something from amazon for a total of £39.98 so this applied to me. I want to post a review of the trainers that I bought. The only way I can do that right now is to buy a usb extension cable that I want. £1.50 from ebay, £4 incl postage from Amazon.

      I can imagine Amazon is going to make more money from this, but they’ll loose out on a lot of reviews.

      b/s

      Reply
  13. Judith Petres Balogh13 October, 2018

    Reviews always puzzled me. Traditionally published books of marginal quality receive hundreds of 5 star reviews, but world-famous Cees Nooteboom’s remarkable “The Following Story” had only 14 reviews. Something is wrong in this picture. Some comments amaze me: people who admit that they never read more than 1-2 chapters of the book, because it was “boring” gave it a one star, whereas the same book received awards and the majority of the reviews were 4-5 stars. Obviously everyone is entitled to his opinion and authors have learned to take it with a grain of salt. However,consider this horror: a given book has one negative review written by one, who has a 50 dollar credit to his name. The next 10-15 readers, who bought the book, did not spend as yet 50 dollars, hence they cannot tell that it is a remarkable book. In that case said book will appear at the Amazon site as a one star failure. Is this fair or acceptable? It seems there is a problem much deeper and more complex than the fear that without a fifty dollar purchase the reviews are unreliable.I can see the problem and hear the fear which prompted this solution, but it is not well thought through and is not going to solve any problems, merely make the sale of struggling self-published books even more difficult. Obviously, a reviewer who does it for money, would have no problem making a 50 dollar purchase, and then merrily continue to write its paid reviews which would be posted without the slightest problem. He can write off the 50 dollars as investment in a lucrative business, while honest, but financially restricted people are prevented to voice their opinion. One obvious result will be that traditionally published books many of which lack the slightests resemblance to literature, will continue to be glorified with the help of the publisher, while better works will fall through the cracks.

    I am 85, author of nine books, self-published. Many of my readers are in retirement, living on ridiculous amounts of benefits. Often they prefer to borrtow books from libraries or from each other and so are prevented from giving an opinion, because they live on restricted funds. This used to be called discrimination. If one cannot afford a fifty dollar purchase, then let us take away her freedom of speech. Who benefits from this? To begin with, Amazon for sure, although gradually authors using the Amazon self-publish service will drop away because of lack of support,and eventually this will be a bigger loss for Amazon than the currently guaranteed 50 dollar purchase. Writing a comment is hardly worth 50 dollars, if anything, it is a favor that helps the purchase of the book,(which also benefits Amazon) but does not involve personal gain.

    Also because of scams and the ever increasing loss of privacy, (Big Brother Is Watching You, no kidding)) quite a few people are destroying their credit cards, They no longer buy anything with them. They too are prevented from making comments.

    Reply
  14. Bob Rich13 October, 2018

    Judith, I fully agree with you. It’s basically a scam to induce people to buy stuff at Amazon

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top
%d bloggers like this: