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Belkin's President Apologizes For Faked Reviews 137

Posted by kdawson
from the genuine-naugahyde dept.
remove office writes "After I wrote about how Belkin's Amazon.com sales rep Mike Bayard had been paying for fake reviews of his company's products using Mechanical Turk, hundreds of readers across the Web expressed their outrage. As a result of the online outcry, Belkin's president Mark Reynoso has issued a statement apologizing and saying that 'this is an isolated incident' and that 'Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this.' Amazon moved swiftly to remove several reviews on Belkin products it believed were fraudulent. But now fresh evidence of astroturfing has surfaced, by the same Belkin executive."
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Belkin's President Apologizes For Faked Reviews

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  • by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:07AM (#26527611)
    "Belkin does not participate in . . . unethical practices like this."
    paraphrase: We don't do what we just did.
  • Fool me once.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WCMI92 (592436) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:21AM (#26527723) Homepage

    Once could be an "isolated incident". But this is the second big scam involving Belkin, in the wake of the router that basically had built in adware...

    Seems to me that Belkin has a culture of corporate corruption over there. The best way to assure us that they have realized their mistake and to correct the problem is for heads to roll. Seems to me they have corrupt management. That needs to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:23AM (#26527737)
    How is Belkin even relevant anymore? Overpriced products, shitty service and unethical business practices make this a horrible company.
  • by jridley (9305) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:23AM (#26527741)

    They're so full of crap. It's funny how Belkin has "isolated incidents" seemingly several times a year. They obviously have a corporate environment that breeds this sort of thing. I put them on my "evil company, do not buy" permanent list when the news of the spam router came out back in 2003, and haven't bought so much as a cable from them since.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:26AM (#26527777) Homepage Journal

    It's like how Microsoft doesn't participate in anticompetitve behavior.

  • Apology accepted! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by myram (641949) <kasper@@@myram...dk> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:28AM (#26527795) Homepage Journal
    Now, where's my money?
  • RTFA PLEASE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:44AM (#26527941) Journal

    Ok, look, it is great this story broke and the CEO apologized. But now, the new claims all center around a username that matches this guys real name. Now, it could be legitimate, but this is f'ing slashdot of all places and you are going to immediately accept "well the online nickname matches his real name, it must be him" like the same bunch of morons that sees "Obama caught naked with Bush daughters" in their Inbox and thinks "Well, it must be true, I gotta see this" and clicks on the link. Seriously... I mean...wouldn't it be a pretty good stunt for some internet troll to use that guys name to post positive reviews in light of the original claims? Just because the story didn't gain traction right away doesn't mean other people didn't also know about it before the story DID get widespread coverage.

    How the hell is slashdot going to link front page "HAHA caught again" to a damned blog that says "well the user's nickname matches the sales guy, it MUST be him". Now, I'm not even saying it isn't him, it is entirely possible he is that much of a dumbass and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if it was him. However, calling that article "Fresh evidence" is a pretty far stretch. "Suspicious behavior" maybe, but "fresh evidence of wrongdoing" is a bit of that guilty until proven innocent that only seems to be OK when being applied against people you don't like.

  • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:47AM (#26527955) Homepage Journal

    It is not illegal and has the same morality as a regular advertisement IMHO.

    A regular advertisement is something you know is paid for, so you know it's one big lie-but-not-as-the-FTC-defines-it. The thing with these reviews is that they're actively interfering with the spread of accurate information (note that accurate information is rather critical to the proper functioning of markets), rather than just spewing their own obvious garbage that people can know to ignore.

  • by riggah (957124) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:48AM (#26527967)
    Belkin's president Mark Reynoso has issued a statement apologizing and saying that 'this is an isolated incident' and that 'Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this.'

    Phew, for a second I thought I was going to have to use some doublethink to convince myself that Belkin didn't do exactly what he just claimed they never do!!!

    Mr. Reynoso's apology means nothing. He's only sorry because they were caught; as with most people.

    It doesn't matter if they apologize because a business that engages in that sort of unethical behavior will not hesitate to do it again (unless it effects their pocketbooks, in that case they'll just be more careful to not be caught). Once a cheater always a cheater.
  • by sedmonds (94908) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:52AM (#26527991) Homepage
    Like many businesses these days, the "unethical practice" isn't the underhanded, slimy, douchebaggery. The unethical practice referred to is getting caught. Anything it takes to raise short-term stock prices!
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:55AM (#26528027)

    That why if you are doing something that seems ethically questionable make sure there is paper work to back it up. Even an email from your boss saying its OK we will handle it. Prevents you from getting hung out to dry.

    But for most cases it is more of the sin of not doing anything to stop unethical behavior from the underlings who are fighting for their way up.

    Some sales middle manager, trying to boost his amazon sales pays people to write good reviews, he didn't ask for permission. However after a couple of weeks upper management finds this out. The don't formally promote this, or tell others to do the same... However the sin is that they didn't do anything to stop it quickly.

    Remember it is easy to talk about ethics when you are not benefiting from the breaking of ethics. However if you are benefiting from it it takes a really big person to stop it. Remember the name of the ethics watch dog of the early 2000's Mr. Spitzer then found doing some unethical things himself.

    We really need some reward system for companies and government who follow good ethics, and stop bad ethics in their company early and deal with it responsibility. The problem now stopping bad ethics early will still look bad to your company and they will fail to get the benefit of the unethical behavior. But if we can find a fair reward system for good ethics and dealing with problems where the company can benefit from this then you will see real ethics. Not because we make bad people good. Just because it pays better to be good then bad.
    In time we will have good ethics being a norm, but it will take work and find the business equivalent of Heaven and Hell, where good behavior gets rewarded and bad gets punished. Right now we only punish bad behavior so it makes it a case of lets not get caught. By putting a reward system in place then we can have people going out of their way to be good (and proving it)

  • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:57AM (#26528041) Homepage Journal

    'this is an isolated incident' and that 'Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this.'

    Excuse me, INAL however I seem to remember when ethics were discussed way back in college that when one acts as an agent of the company, one is acting on behalf of the company in a legal sense. Therefore, since the exec was repeatedly buying reviews I would hardly consider it to be an "isolated incident" (an isolated incident would be asking a friend or neighbor to write up a review in exchange for a round of beers, for example). Also, I would consider that since a Belkin exec was buying those reviews and encouraging this unethical and immoral behavior, it is wholeheartedly officially, if surreptitiously, endorsed by Belkin.

  • by Mechanik (104328) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:10AM (#26528157) Homepage

    "Belkin does not participate in . . . unethical practices like this."

    Emphasis mine. His statement doesn't preclude them participating in other unethical practices.

  • by D Ninja (825055) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:10AM (#26528159)

    That why if you are doing something that seems ethically questionable make sure there is paper work to back it up. Even an email from your boss saying its OK we will handle it. Prevents you from getting hung out to dry.

    Or, ya know, just don't do that thing.

    If something seems ethically questionable, there's more than one person out there that will find it wrong. Just don't do it. There are other ways to "get to the top" rather than having to cheat your way up there.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:17AM (#26528229)

    I have one and only one Belkin product in my home.

    After getting multiple disconnects from my DSL provider, I kept calling and complaining. After several router swaps, DSL modem replacements, and different computers on my end, I pretty well determined that it wasn't my equipment. The phone company stated that it must be a cabling problem. Got a new service drop from the street to the house, then new cable from the outside box to the DSL wall jack. Still had dropouts.

    So I decided to replace the Dollar Store phone cable that I had running from the inside jack to the DSL modem with the fanciest $15 Belkin phone cord I could find. It was about the purdiest phone cord I've ever seen.

    It performed the same as the dollar store one did.

  • by deKernel (65640) <timfbarber@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:46AM (#26528559)

    To be honest, there is already a "reward" system in-place. It is to both not buy from the company that is acting in a questionable fashion AND write a letter or send an email letting them know why you are not buying their product. The last action is just as important as the first in that you are letting them know why they are not getting a sale out of you.

    The system might not have the immediate gratification, but it does work in the long run.

  • Re:Fraud charges? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fulldecent (598482) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:56AM (#26528667) Homepage
    I don't think fraud means what you think it means.
  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:11PM (#26529723)
    People believe what anonymous strangers say on internet about some products.

    Makes sense, the majority of people are actually nice and honest. No matter how easy cynicism is: we are social animals and *want* to contribute to society, despite having selfish desires, too. Besides the proof is in the pudding: if you use the Amazon review system you get a lot of useful information. Of course you can't just look at the number of stars - if you look at the reviews you see the issues people had, you can also see whether a review is just fluff. If in doubt you can check the author's other reviews and look for bias.

    Why does this surprise anyone that companies would put reviews of their own products ?

    Does this surprise anyone? I doubt it. Nevertheless only very unethical companies would actually do it, and there is a price to pay (e.g. a lot of negative attention) once they are found out.

    [...] has the same morality as a regular advertisement IMHO.

    I suspect you are pretty much alone with that view. (Not counting Mike Bayard.)

    What do you think that people in marketing department spend their time on, while idling ?

    If they are smart they probably don't do somthing which smears their company's reputation and gets them fired or demoted. (Bad performance is a good way to get fired, regardless whether your company is ethical or not...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:28PM (#26530011)

    Yes. I'm sure he is very sorry he got caught.

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