Consequently, he feels like we’ve let people down all of the time.
The other day, he wondered out loud how our kitchen sink’s sponge holder could receive 400 five-star testimonials on Amazon while our novel, The Runaway Mail-Order Bride, has thirteen. I told him his question was easily answered. More people bought the sponge holder, more people reviewed the sponge holder, and the company that produces the sponge holder offered their Amazon buyers… well, bribe is a harsh word. They offered those fortunate souls a $10 gift card if they’d leave a positive review on the site. And by “positive”, they were demanding 5 glowing stars of admiration. Otherwise, no ten-spot.
The sponge holder cost us less than thirteen bucks. (Checking Amazon at this minute: yep, still cheap.) To be fair, it probably cost less than three bucks to make the gizmo.
Since when did buying reviews become a thing? On principle, I refused to write anything about the stainless-steel sink caddy, even though it does a fine job of holding sponges. It would be almost amazing if it didn’t. Later, I started to wonder if the company really did send those reviewers the promised gift card. Seems kind of shady to me.
It turns out, the Sink Caddy Consortium aren’t the only ones who pull these kinds of shenanigans. (I write mail-order bride novels. Of course, I’m going to use a word like “shenanigans.”) On Valentine’s Day, Harrell gave me a rechargeable hand warmer. No chocolates or flowers for this girl; the boy knows what I like. When the hand warmer arrived, it included a card offering a $15 Amazon gift card for every buyer who gave the warmer a 5-star review. A hefty reward for something that only cost 17 dollars.
After two weeks of use, I decided I loved my portable little warmer. I left a very happy review because (a) it was as good as advertised; and (b) I had an insatiable need to know if these outfits actually made good on their offers. Hand Warmer, Inc., did, and promptly. Then… two days after I received my digital payment, the hand warmer quit working. I edited my review to reflect this, then used the gift card they’d sent to buy a different rechargeable hand warmer.
Wouldn’t you know, that $18 replacement hand warmer arrived this week with its own offer of a $20 gift card, provided I told Amazon buyers that I held five stars of admiration for their teal-colored wonder. Not this time, fellows. I’m out of the reviews-for-hire game.
If you’re wondering how the company makes a profit, paying $20 for every $18 purchase, the answer is simple: volume. (Old SNL gag.)
I’ve drifted a bit from the main point here. One Bride for Seven Brothers: The Fifth Brother is on sale! Although we offer no gift cards in exchange for reviews, Harrell will likely curl his lips in an icy smile if you say nice things about the story.
Also, the new hand warmer? So far, it’s great.