A month removed from reports that Amazon had removed two extremely popular tech accessory brands — Aukey and Mpow — from its store due to involvement with a fraudulent reviews system, another huge name has disappeared. RAVPower, one of the key competitors to Aukey and Mpow, has received the same treatment: The company’s products and store page have been wiped clean from Amazon. Amazon confirmed to The Verge that all three companies were removed intentionally.
Like the companies that fell before it, RAVPower had seemingly very popular products and many happy customers. I’ve personally used many RAVPower batteries and chargers, and generally found them to be solid products. But whether the products are actually good isn’t what’s at focus here; Amazon’s apparently taking action on companies that are astroturfing their reviews and ratings.
RAVPower’s misgivings may have been a more innocent than what Aukey and Mpow were initially accused of in terms of a “fake” reviews scheme, though. RAVPower had been providing customers with incentives like hefty gift cards for submitting positive reviews for what they just bought, which is a clear violation of Amazon’s policies. RAVPower may have been participating in schemes just like Aukey and Mpow as well, but the scale of these operations isn’t particularly clear. There’s an entire industry of “fake review” spotters that attempt to address this problem, with varying levels of success.
The removal of RAVPower accessories, and continued block on Aukey and Mpow, will hit the companies particularly hard as Amazon heads into its Prime Day event, which kicks off on June 21.
Rules need to be enforced, but consumers are arguably not being helped by this action.
While these actions are obviously attempting to game the Amazon reviews system, and there needs to be some sort of punishment when enforcing these rules, it’s tough to see how this is a net-positive for consumers. Aukey, Mpow, and RAVPower have all built up a considerable — and by all indications, well-deserved — following of loyal customers that actually associated their brands with quality and consistency. Now, those products have been unilaterally removed.
If you’ve been satisfied with your Aukey or RAVPower phone charger, and go to Amazon to buy another, you’re going to face a … questionable set of choices. Sure in some cases you’ll see a nice offering from Anker or Mophie, but sometimes you’re also seeing a dozen other white-label batteries from a no-name company, or a listing with literally no company name. They could be good, they could be terrible, who knows?
There’s a high likelihood that they’re all playing the exact same review-pumping game — they just aren’t yet on the scale of the big names getting caught. And nobody’s going to stake a claim saying that every product available on Amazon is tested for safety and quality standards before being lifted. It’s the whole reason why the review and rating system exists in the first place — we can’t always take a company’s claims about a product when we have no experience with it.
It’s unfortunate that the companies chose to — or were put in a position where they felt the need to — juice their reviews and ratings even further to stay atop the incredibly crowded tech accessory space. Because now, the end result is less competition and arguably lower-quality choices. I hope Amazon is able to work with the companies to bring them back soon.