Feb. 16 (UPI) — For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission has filed charges against a company for so-called “review hijacking.”
“Bountiful carried out this deceptive tactic by merging its new products on Amazon with different well-established products that had more ratings, reviews,” the FTC said in a press release Thursday.
Bountiful manufactures vitamins and nutritional supplements under the Nature’s Bounty and Sundown brand names.
The complaint alleges that Bountiful abused an Amazon feature that allows products to be displayed in “variation” relationships, where similar products with minor differences share reviews. By requesting variations for their newer products, Bountiful took advantage of products that had already received reviews, giving the impression that the new products were well-rated.
“Boosting your products by hijacking another product’s ratings or reviews is a relatively new tactic, but is still plain old false advertising,” said Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine.
“The Bountiful Company is paying back $600,000 for manipulating product pages and deceiving customers,” Levine said.
An internal email from Bountiful stated the company created variations for products “to try and ramp them faster as they were NOT selling and we wanted to give them a little boost.”