What happened when I got a Facebook ad to “test” a product

A few weeks ago a business in the neighborhood loaned me a retractable hose (when the water is off is shrinks to a foot or two.) I used it for a couple of days no issue, left it on at the tap, a couple of days later my kids are screaming that the hose exploded. Camera showed indeed hose had just exploded without anyone touching it. I felt I owed business a new hose.

TL;DR – what you expect happens happened.

I searched the googs, the Amazons, and texted the owner about said hose and asked what she wanted as it exploded in my care… she said she’d let me know as she needed something slightly different for her bar.

A day or two later, surprise surprise, I get an advertisement saying something along the lines of “free hose for a review.” It was very similar, and if you’ve ever noticed anything about me, it’s that I tend to do reviews. The setup was as follows:

  1. Purchase hose on Amazon
  2. Review hose after using it for at least 3 days
  3. Provide link to company / send email to Amazon link for review
  4. Be reimbursed for cost of hose

Aight, even should this be a scam I figured I’ve got to replace the hose and went ahead and purchased the item. As of my last stint reviewing things on Amazon the requirement was if you were provided the item you mentioned that, and under no circumstances was the group or manufacturer who provided it allowed to ask you to change a review.

The hose showed, I jumped on the Amazon product page and decided to check the reviews out after playing around with it and noticed it was almost a wall of 5 stars and 1 star reviews with the top 5 star review complaining that Amazon was refusing to let him post an honest opinion.

I should have read the reviews first. It was obvious this was just a review buy with 5-star reviews by people who don’t do anything except 5-star reviews. With a few exceptions in the 5 star range it was a bunch of people who thought if they didn’t post a five star they weren’t getting their free goodie.

So, I did what I do. I wrote up a review contrasting it for the price to a couple of other hoses I’d worked with and how it was roughly a 3.5 star hose, which put it above average, but the ball shutoff was missing some of the coolness of similarly priced ones that have a groove and can essentially pressure wash for a few bucks more.

Being Amazon I had the option of 3 stars, or 4 stars. I chose 4. Amazon approved my review a day or so later, I emailed it to the address they said to email it to, which bounced, contacted them via messenger and got a human a day later who told me when I pointed out that email address was bad that “our email boxes are in normal use.”

OK, what?

After that and they saw my 4 star review the needling started – “can you give us 5 stars? After all this is a free product.” “why didn’t you like it?” “I can’t make decisions on this, I’ll have to talk to my manager.” Etc.

I notified them they were not allowed to request I change it unless it was factually incorrect. I also notified them this was the end of my dealings with them I’d just deal with Amazon returns.

At this point I was told the manager had approved my 4 star review and I could submit my proof of purchase, payment, etc.

Filled out the return form on Amazon. dropped off the product at UPS, got my refund and reported their review purchasing. Womp womp.

Got a request from them after I told them I was not dealing with them because they’re obviously looking to purchase reviews to review something else shortly afterward in an attempt (I believe,) to buy a better rating.

So yeah, pretty much what you expect. They violated seller/affiliate terms of service and so would you if you didn’t know what you’re doing.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts