Serious questions are being raised about the integrity of consumer electronics Company Belkin after favourable reviews written for technology websites were linked to a Belkin Manager. Among the reviews written was one for a Belkin N Router, which in Australia sells for over $300 compared to similar products from Cisco and D Link that sell for sub $180.
It has also emerged that the Company who sell cheap ‘made in China’ products packaged to look like premium products, has also been caught paying consumers to write favourable reviews.
In the US the web site Daily Background was the first to break news on the alleged scam to pay folks to write reviews for Amazon.com.
A reporter discovered that Mike Bayard a business develop rep for eCommerce at Belkin had written several favourable reviews for Belkin products. It has also been alleged that he multiple pseudonyms of his own to post positive reviews of Belkin products.
When confronted with the evidence Belkin president Mark Reynoso said “this is an isolated incident” and that “Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this.” I can add that I’ve independently verified that Amazon has taken action to remove what it believes were fake comments on product listing pages for a specific Belkin router.
Consumers were also being offered $1 to write a favourable comment about a Belkin product.
The invitation from Belkin suggested that writers “Write as if you own the product and are using it” and “tell a story of why you bought it and how you are using it.”
But that’s not all. After the paid reviewer makes the positive post, they are requested to “Mark any other negative reviews as ‘not helpful'”.
At the recent CES, Belkin was using a hotel room at the Hilton to show guests products as opposed to their traditional show stand.
In Australia Belkin Country Manager Kannyn MacRae said he was not aware of the claims and was unable to comment.
The news comes as no surprise to SmartHouse. In the past Belkin management has threatened SmartHouse over reviews. On one occasion when a product was only ranked two out of 5 a senior manager threatened to pull advertising unless the review was pulled down from our web site.
On another occasion Belkin pulled their advertising from SmartHouse Magazine after the then Country Manager Mike Bell demanded that we pull down a story that was critical of Harvey Norman.
At the time he said, “If you want advertising from Belkin you only write positive reviews and the same goes to stories about our retail partners.”
Harvey Norman management at the time denied that Bell or Belkin were acting on there behalf.