Some employees at Amazon.com Inc. have allegedly been selling confidential data to online sellers and deleting negative bad reviews from the website in exchange of money, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The retail giant has been conducting an investigation into the matter since May – that’s when the company apparently learned of the practice for the first time. The report claims the malpractice is particularly common in China, which is a huge target market for the e-commerce platform.
The sources told the publication that brokers acts as intermediaries between the Amazon employees and merchant. Independent business owners reportedly pay from anywhere between $80 to more than $2,000 for removing damaging reviews, obtaining buyers’ email addresses and acquiring internal information like sales volume etc. that would help their products appear higher in search results, giving them an edge over their competitors.
These middlemen apparently use Chinese messaging service WeChat to make such deals.
It is important to mention as per Amazon’s policies, disclosing such information is prohibited.
The company has also released a statement, confirming it was investigating the allegations against its employees.
“We have strict policies and a Code of Business Conduct & Ethics in place for our employees. We implement sophisticated systems to restrict and audit access to information,” Amazon stated. “We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties. In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action. We are conducting a thorough investigation of these claims.”
As the CNN pointed out, the Seattle-based company has a controversial history of allegedly deceptive product reviews, with allegations dating back years.
For instance, in 2015, more than 1,000 people filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of “misleading” the customers by selling “fake reviews of products.”
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