“Verified Purchase” continued — again

And the circular responses continue. After receiving Steve’s response to my follow-up query about whether or not reviews posted by KU subscribers were listed as “verified purchases”, I sent yet another email to Amazon asking for clarification. Specifically, I wanted to know if there were any plans to change the fact reviews posted by KU subscribers were not given any additional weight over non-verified purchases. While books downloaded as part of the KU program aren’t technically purchased, the fact that those subscribers pay to be part of the program ought to count for something.

So, as I said, I sent another email and waited for a response.

This morning, well after the 12 hours they say you are supposed to hear back, I had the following email from Zac J:

When a product review is marked “Amazon Verified Purchase,” it means that the customer who wrote the review purchased the item at Amazon.com.

If a review is not marked Amazon Verified Purchase, it doesn’t mean that the reviewer has no experience with the product -– just that we couldn’t verify that it had been purchased at Amazon.

I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

This is where I start calling bullshit. First because the response doesn’t address my original query. Second, and more importantly, Amazon can and does identify if a book as been downloaded as part of the KU/KOLL programs.

Now, I’m smart enough and old enough to know that this is a first line response and is basically a canned response. Key words in my query brought up the “appropriate” response and Zac J simply sent out what his program told him to. So, as I did before, I used the feedback form you get with emails from Amazon to let them know that they did not answer my question and to restate it. This time, I restated the query in simple words and pointedly asked who I should contact if they fail to respond to my request for information. We’ll see what happens next.

All of this is not because I’m unhappy with Amazon or the KU program. Far from it. However, I know a number of reviewers who use the KU program to borrow books. These books they then review. They do this, even though it costs them approximately $10/mo, because they know the authors do get payment for each page read under the KU/KOLL programs. They would rather do that then get free books. In other words, they are rewarding authors, even if they don’t like the book and will be giving it a negative review. I appreciate that and I think it should be noted if a book review is by a KU subscriber.

It is a simple enough fix and, in my opinion, one Amazon should implement post-haste.

7 Comments

  1. Been having issues with Amazon support myself. All the e-books I buy from them I download to my desktop computer using Kindle for Mac then either read there or sideload to my Kindle reader. Having just finished Cedar’s Pixie Noir and been very impressed I went and bought her next two in the series. When I verified that they were now on my cloud list I spotted a nastigram from Amazon instructing me that my Kindle.app was out of date and to install the latest version. I did so, which over wrote the older app. Went to run the new version and it would not load on my system. I realized the most likely cause was that I’m running an older version of the Mac OS, though it’s the latest my hardware will support. I fixed the problem by deleting the file Kindle.app and reinstalling the old version from a backup. Works fine again, though I’m sure I will get more nastigrams.
    Being a good citizen of the interwebs I reported the problem to Amazon via e-mail, got a response back that they can’t troubleshoot by e-mail and I should either call them or set up a chat session. Picked chat and got some entity who was very polite and quite totally clueless. All I really wanted was to pass along the fact that their latest update dropped compatibility with older systems. Hoping that since the chat session was documented it will eventually get to someone who can understand the problem.
    My main two issues were and still are that the update did not check first for system compatibility and that the new version irreversibly overwrote the previous file. Were I less computer literate or lacked a clean backup I would be dead in the water as far as my Amazon books were concerned.

  2. As a brand new user of Amazon’s author services, I may have a couple of observations that might help {or not}. There’s just a little activity so far, so I don’t have a lot of information overload. The book climbed the kindle sales rank to about 48k, then over the weekend dropped to 186k. Its at 106k now, but there hasn’t been a sale since Saturday. There have been borrows though.

    I’ve had two reviews so far. One a verified purchase {my brother} who gave me five stars. The other was our good friend Pat Patterson, who wrote a pretty detailed review and gave the book four stars. It averages 4.5. Small sample size and all that, but there doesn’t appear to be an outsized weighting of the review that was a “verified purchase”.

  3. I already posted the non-response I got to my inquiry.
    “Yeah,” they said, “you can post reviews if you got the book on KU. Go ahead,” they said. “Post a review. ”
    The forgot to add “We DARE YA!”

    So: I’m gonna go back and ask TWO questions:
    In terms of impact on a book’s sales rank
    1. Are KU-generated reviews given less weight than Verified Purchase reviews?
    2. Does the reviewer’s rank affect the weight given reviews?

    1. I just sent them this, at 4:48 Eastern. There is a fat black Manx bothering me, but that should not change Amazon’s response.
      New changes in author payments for books obtained through KULL prompt this question.
      I have written 122 reviews on Amazon. Most of those are book reviews. Most of those book reviews are written from books obtained through my enrollment in the Kindle Unlimited Lending Library. My reviewer rank is 41,021.
      I have two questions:
      In terms of impact on a book’s sales rank
      1. Are KU-generated reviews given less weight than Verified Purchase reviews?
      2. Does the reviewer’s rank affect the weight given reviews?

  4. I chased this down on the Amazon Customer Review forum:

    – Star rating: A product’s overall star rating will now consider factors including the age of a review, helpful votes by customers, and whether reviews are from verified purchasers.
    – Review ranking: Similar machine-learned factors will help determine a review’s ranking in the list of reviews.

    So, from that email, dated June 19 (if I got one, I don’t remember) the answers to my two questions are:
    1 – KU reviews are given less weight than Verified Purchase reviews
    2 – The reviewer’s rank does impact the ranking of the book.

    citatation: http://www.amazon.com/forum/top%20reviewers/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2Z5LRXMSUDQH2&cdThread=Tx1K9JEPS6BGCG

  5. Oh, yeah, one more thing: the Amazon customer service and tech support appear to be uninformed of this policy, since I just got this reply from them to my inquiry, which is stated up-post two entries:

    Hello,

    I’ve contacted our technical support team and they are currently working on the issue.

    They were not able to provide an exact date or time when they expect this issue to be resolved, but I’ll continue to monitor the situation with the technical support team until the problem is fixed. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

    We look forward to seeing you again soon.

    Best regards,
    Harm J,

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