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Just how truthful are reviews on Amazon?

Today, a Daily Cheapskate reader received a skirt that she ordered from Amazon, along with a note from the vendor, as shown above: 

"HOW TO RECEIVE A FREE GIFT FROM ________.  After you leave a positive feedback and a 5-star rating on the product review, please email us at ________ with your order number and the buyer name used.  You will receive a complimentary necklace or bracelet."

Now, needless to say, this is completely against Amazon's Review Guidelines. I took a quick look at the skirt's Amazon listing and sure enough, it got 4.6 out of 5 stars over 237 customer reviews.  80% of those reviews are 5 stars.  I perused through most of the 5-star reviews and no one seems to mention any incentivization. Surprise, surprise.

When you post a positive review on an Amazon product because a vendor gave you a gift to do so,  you aren't just selling your good name, you are hurting others who rely on Amazon reviews to determine whether or not to buy a product.  Besides violating Amazon's rules, it's just plain unethical. Even if you were going to give the product a good review anyway, at least disclose that you've received some sort of compensation for your review, so that potential buyers will be aware when reading your review.

Amazon community projects like item reviews only work if we are truthful and forthcoming.  Let's keep it honest.

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