Compton (CA) – In an exclusive by The Daily Background, on Friday, January 16, 2009 author Arlen Parsa uncovered a scheme by Belkin employee Mike Bayard on Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk for a fee-for-positive-review piece. Belkin president, Mark Reynoso, acknowledged two days later (on Sunday) that the claim was true. Belkin had requested a fee-for-positive-review on one of their products.
From the Daily Background:
“Amazon.com runs a side business called Mechanical Turk. It’s a site where people can go, register, and get paid to do little tasks that computers can’t do (like help image filtering software identify graphic search results for example). Users can do any one of thousands of tasks provided by requesters, who pay them a small amount of money in return (usually anywhere between one cent and a couple dollars per task).
I was checking out this website the other day and I made a few bucks by hand-transcribing a few videos. But then I came across this:”
What he saw was this image of the Amazon.com Mechanical Turk website with the following page:
“Write a Positive 5/5 Review for Product on Website
Positive review writing.
o Use your best possible grammar and write in US English only
o Always give a 100% rating (as high as possible)
o Keep your entry between 25 and 50 words
o Write as if you own the product and are using it
o Tell a story of why you bought it and how you are using it
o Thank the website for making you such a great deal
o Mark any other negative reviews as “not helpful” once you post yours
The link below leads to a product on a website. Read-through the product’s features and write a positive review for it using the guidelines above to the best of your ability. I have also provided the part number for this product and you can click on the links below to see it on several alternative websites. In order to post some reviews you will need to create an account on the site. You can use your own email address or open a free webmail account (gmail, yahoo…) and use it to post with.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PRODUCT ASSIGNED TO THIS HIT
MFG PART: F5U301″
The link to post a review is to the right of the “Customer Reviews” heading and shows “Create a Customer Review” button.
Two days later, on Sunday, Belkin’s president acknowledged this as reality and issued a statement affirming Belkin’s adherence “to the highest standards of corporate ethics and its employees to the highest standards of personal integrity.” He states, “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 states that Belkin “does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this” and that efforts were made to remove the false reviews and to notify the public that its partners had no knowledge of this. However, Reynoso stops short of indicating whether or not Baynard was an actual employee, or if he has been terminated, or is even under review.
UPDATED: January 21, 2009 – 1:06pm CST
Belkin spokeswoman Melody Chalaban told an AP Digital reporter that the company is “investigating to determine the extent of problem and if disciplinary action is needed.”