Fake reviews prompt Belkin apology

Fake reviews prompt Belkin apology

Summary: The networking equipment says sorry after an employee offers to pay for good Amazon reviews

TOPICS: Networking

Fake positive reviews of Belkin products were actively solicited by one of its employees, the company admitted on Sunday.

Belkin, a networking and peripheral manufacturer, apologised for the worker's actions, which sought to artificially boost Belkin's status on Amazon while denigrating existing bad reviews.

On Friday, The Daily Background website revealed how someone, apparently Belkin business-development representative Mark Bayard, had used the Mechanical Turk service to ask users to write positive reviews of a Belkin product at a rate of 65 US cents (45p) per review. The requests made it clear that writers need have no experience of, nor even own, the product in question. Mechanical Turk is an online clearing-house for small jobs that cannot be done by machine, such as writing product descriptions. It is, coincidentally, run by Amazon.

In a letter posted on the company's website on Sunday, Belkin president Mark Reynoso said the solicitations had been "an isolated incident".

"It was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment," Reynoso wrote.

"Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened."

Reynoso said Belkin had "acted swiftly" to remove all the review requests from the Mechanical Turk system, and was "working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed".

"It's also important to recognise that our retail partners had no knowledge of, or participation in, these postings," Reynoso wrote. "Once again, we apologise for this occurrence, and we will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost."

According to The Daily Background, the product for which the positive reviews were requested was Belkin's wireless F5U301 USB2.0 hub and dongle, listed on Amazon.com. On Monday, the listing for that product on Amazon.com showed a rating of one-and-a-half stars out of five.

Topic: Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Belkin

    My experience with Belkin equipment has been excellent, good equipment that provided me with great and easy to use service.
    However, when one minor intermittent fault did occur in a router and it eventually became a need to contact Belkin technical help, then the fun started. The foreign accented voice invited me to try many things, all of which I had already tried a number of times, and told me the router was working. The foreign voiced body just could not understand that I was reporting an intermittent fault and I needed to return the equipment for component checking on a bench soaking.
  • Software Review (Not Belkin, same thing).

    This is not the first time companies do this, apart from the apology, which must be a first.

    I once bought some graphic software only to discover months later a glowing report on a software review site - under my name!

    They did remove the article, but this soft of thing goes on all the time I'm afraid.