The Federal Trade Commission has fined its first firm for “review hijacking” on Amazon or using reviews from another product to deceive customers. The Bountiful Company, which manufactures Nature’s Bounty vitamins and supplements, is accused of manipulating Amazon reviews and ratings.
Bountiful allegedly misused Amazon’s variants tool, which allows vendors to combine items of different colors, sizes, or quantities inside a single listing. These product versions have the same Amazon listing, ratings, and badges like “#1 Best Seller” and “Amazon’s Choice.”
Bountiful took advantage of this structure by placing its new items among its old ones as “variations” when they were substantially different. The FTC said Bountiful used this to “promote” sales of its newer, less successful supplements by deceiving consumers into thinking their ratings applied to them.
In March 2021, Bountiful introduced Nature’s Bounty Brain Superfood capsules and Brain Focus chewable pills to its Amazon shop, one of numerous FTC cases. The FTC alleges that the business introduced these goods as variations to its Nature’s Bounty Ginkgo Biloba 120mg capsule offering. All three had different component compositions. In addition, bountiful has combined its Immune 24 Hour Plus softgels with its highly acclaimed Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C 500mg pills, which have different formulae.
The FTC fined Bountiful $600,000 and ordered it to avoid making similar claims and using “deceptive review methods” to deceive customers. Amazon has battled fake reviews for years. “Review hijacking” may be another issue Amazon must address to manage its items.
“There’s no room for fraud in Amazon’s store,” Amazon spokesperson Christy Distefano told The Verge. We actively prevent listing misuse and monitor our store. Our regulations prohibit review abuse, including gift vouchers for favorable ratings. We prohibit, suspend, and sue violators and erase fake reviews.”