Amazon corruption, continued

Employees, through intermediaries, are offering internal data to help merchants increase their sales on the website

Employees of Amazon, primarily with the aid of intermediaries, are offering internal data and other confidential information that can give an edge to independent merchants selling their products on the site, according to sellers who have been offered and purchased the data, as well as brokers who provide it and people familiar with internal investigations.

Amazon Investigates Employees Leaking Data for Bribes, WSJ, September 16, 2018

Employees have reportedly turned over proprietary sales information, deleted negative reviews, turned over reviewer e-mail addresses, or unbanned banned accounts
. . .
On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal published a report that revealed that sellers have bribed Amazon employees to get access to internal sales data or to delete negative reviews, and that the company has launched an investigation into the practice.

According to the report, middlemen use social media sites like WeChat to track down Amazon employees, offering them cash to turn over internal information or to delete negative reviews. The WSJ also reports that it costs roughly $300 to take down a bad review, with brokers “[demanding] a five-review minimum” per transaction. Amazon employees have also been asked to provide e-mail addresses of customers who left negative reviews, or to provide sales information to give sellers an edge against their competitors. To combat the behavior, an Amazon spokesperson told the WSJ that it has implemented “systems to restrict and audit what employees can access.”

Amazon is investigating claims that employees deleted reviews and sold sales data to sellers, The Verge, September 16, 2018

These practices seem to be a particular problem in China, though not only. Here is more from Shannon Bond at the FT. Here is further coverage at Verge: “The WSJ also reports that it costs roughly $300 to take down a bad review, with brokers ‘[demanding] a five-review minimum’ per transaction.”

Markets in everything, Marginal Revolution, September 17, 2018