Apologies in advance, as this blog post is rather self-indulgent, but I’ve decided that even the smallest of victories against the Zon deserve to be celebrated.
If you’re anything like me, then Amazon is a frequent port of call whenever you NEED something … now. Or at least by tomorrow. While my main purchases are books, I’m not averse to buying ‘stuff’ for myself and my friends. (My home Amazon site is Spain, so I often order items for friends and neighbours because of the language barrier)
Consequently my order history is pretty extensive, and barely a day goes by that Amazon doesn’t email me and ask what I thought of product X, Y, or Z.
Call me naïve, but when I’m asked for an opinion, I tend to give it. (Some people have learnt not to ask, especially if it concerns Brexit). So, I was more than happy to tootle over to Amazon and leave reviews for all items recently received.
I must add that this year has been quite stressful in terms of leaving Amazon reviews. Chats with Amazon staff spanned weeks, before they could give me an answer to the “There has been an error. Please resubmit” message that I kept getting whenever I tried to post on the US or UK sites.
Why not generate a message that tells the reviewer the real reason? In plain English? Is that too much to ask?
I realise many others have also been affected by the reason for this message – the enforcement of the $50 rule that requires expenditure on a country’s site before they can leave a review – but my point was the message didn’t say that. DID IT? Resubmit means try again, not go away because you’re not welcome here.
See what I mean? Stressful!
As already mentioned, my purchases are mainly books, and I know how much authors thrive on reviews. In the past I could comment on a book both on Amazon US and UK. No more. Now, my reviews exist on amazon.es, and so are rarely seen by even my favourite authors. (Be honest, do you trawl international sites, in particular non-English-speaking sites for your book’s reviews?)
Right, that rant is over. So, there I was leaving my reviews. One for a book, so the review was written in English. (They allow that, as the item is clearly marked “English edition”). The other three items that day were for a variety of non book-related products. I tapped away, happily saying how pleased I was with item X; how much my neighbour had loved item Y, and finally how I would recommend item Z. So, all reviews were positive, 4 to 5 stars, written in Spanish, of sufficient length and clearly relevant to the item purchased. I hit send on each one and logged out.
Within minutes (now, this is rare, it usually takes a day or so) I got 4 emails in response to my reviews. Two had been accepted and two rejected. And they sent me a really useful list of things to include in my reviews and suggested I resubmit. Yes, that word again! That didn’t sit well with me. At all.
So I checked my phrasing, checked the number of characters (which is the daftest rule on the planet!!) and I compared my ‘potential’ reviews to those already visible for the products concerned. There was nothing adrift.
This was an algorithm issue, clearly.
And I hate algorithms with a vengeance. It was time to speak out. Although, as the poor relation in Amazonland, we only have the option of email. So, chomping at the bit, I pounded the keyboard to ask why my reviews had been rejected. What had I done wrong?
Earlier today – less than 24 hours later – I got a reply that they have accepted my reviews and both will be visible within 48 hours. No reason for the initial rejection. No changes required. No apology.
Typical, you might say. But how many others are put off from leaving a review because some algorithm says, ‘hey, that’s enough for today. Your opinion only counts when we say so’?
While it might seem trivial to some, this was a victory for me. Not the most important piece of news out there, but it mattered to me. time for the happy dance. Or maybe ice-cream; it’s too hot to dance.
So, Amazon, if you ask me for my opinion again, you should jolly well publish it – and any others that are rejected for no reason whatsoever. In fact, you should really take another look at what the root cause of this was – those pesky algorithms. Sort it out! I’m pretty sure you have both the funds and the wherewithal to do much better.
To everyone, who has made it this far – Thanks for reading 😉
On behalf of writers everywhere, if you read a book, please do leave a review – if you’re allowed
(and if not, complain!)