The maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins, Bountiful Company, has been fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for hijacking Amazon’s reviews. The company took advantage of a feature on Amazon’s website that allows companies to showcase variations of the same product, such as different colors or sizes. However, Bountiful Company abused this feature to promote newer products by attaching them to older, more established, and well-reviewed products. This gave the newer products more credit than they deserved, deceiving consumers into buying them.
Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, condemned the company’s actions, calling it “plain old false advertising” and emphasizing that “boosting your products by hijacking another product’s ratings or reviews is a relatively new tactic.” The FTC’s final consent order, which was approved unanimously, requires Bountiful to pay $600,000 in monetary relief to consumers. The company is also prohibited from making similar types of misrepresentations and using deceptive review tactics that distort what consumers think about its products or services.
This case marks the first time the FTC has tackled “review hijacking,” a growing problem in the e-commerce industry. Companies like Bountiful have been taking advantage of the trust consumers place in online reviews to boost sales and deceive consumers. By piggybacking on older, established products, these companies can make their newer products appear more trustworthy and desirable. However, this practice is unethical and illegal, and the FTC’s actions against Bountiful should serve as a warning to other companies engaging in similar tactics.
In conclusion, the FTC’s actions against Bountiful Company demonstrate the agency’s commitment to protecting consumers from deceptive marketing practices. By cracking down on review hijacking, the FTC is sending a message to other companies that these tactics will not be tolerated. Consumers should be able to trust online reviews when making purchasing decisions, and companies that abuse this trust will face consequences.