Snagshout: Discounted Amazon Products In Exchange For Honest Reviews

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thermoIf you’re like most Amazon shoppers, you don’t like buying anything unless it has a lot of positive 4 and 5 star reviews. But that makes it really hard for new brands and products to gain traction. Good ole’ capitalism has created a new breed of websites that offer limited amounts of heavily discounted products in exchange for honest reviews. Here’s how most of them work:

  • You are given a special discount code that lets you purchase a product at a steep discount, for example a $20 value product for $1 or $2. Most of these products will work with Amazon Prime, so that your $1 item can ship free on its own (otherwise you’ll have to add it onto a larger order to get free shipping).
  • By purchasing this product at discount, you agree to leave an honest review after using it. Don’t leave a review before receiving the product.
  • Your review must state that you’ve “received this product at a discount in exchange for a review” or a similar disclosure.
  • You will not be able to claim another discount until your review is verified live on Amazon.com.
  • You agree not to resell the items you bought, under penalty of removal from future promotions.

You may think this sounds shady, but the Amazon Vine program works in a very similar way with the manufacturers and vendor supplying free review samples to their “top” reviewers. Amazon’s own policies state that sellers cannot provide compensation for a review, but sellers can offer a free or discounted product in exchange for an unbiased, unedited review.

You don’t need to be a high-volume reviewer for these sites, but you will need to have an Amazon customer account that you’ve actually used to buy things in the past.

Here are the “discount-for-review” sites that I am aware of. I’m sure I’m missing some.

  • Snagshout
  • Secret Deals Club
  • Amazing Deals Group>

While some these sites give the impression that they prefer staying in the shadows (“secret”), Snagshout actually hired a PR firm and sent me a press release:

Snagshout, a new social deals website, launches today to provide a unique shopping experience to consumers by offering deep discounts on a wide range of retail products for purchase, use and review. The site connects shoppers looking for deals with merchants looking to gain traction with new items on Amazon. With deals organized into nine categories such as beauty, toys and media, users can easily search for new products. Most of the deals are between 30-90% off of regular retail price for Snagshout users who are willing to try the product and leave an honest review within two weeks of purchase.

I was a former member of 1bucktoday and just signed up for Snagshout, but really the only thing that interested me there was this instant-read thermometer that I bought for $2 even though the historical price is around $18. (Summer is here and I’ve been grilling a lot recently.) I noticed that there are a lot of non-FDA-approved nutritional supplements on these sites.

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While these sites may not currently violate Amazon’s terms and conditions, that could always change. Amazon has already had to deal with bad press from websites that just straight-up sell fake reviews. While this is not the same thing, I doubt that Amazon likes it.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the review websites mentioned in this post.

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Comments

  1. The problem with Amazon’s rating system is that you can’t sort product categories based on number of reviews + average rating. So, you will get highly rated products with 4-5 stars that may have only 1-2 ratings WITH products that have hundreds of reviews and 4-5 stars mixed in together. So, the product with only 1-2 customer reviews can outrank the products with hundreds of reviews.

    • Really? I thought products with lots of reviews will come up higher in the default search results. Maybe my eyes are just more attracted to more ratings and the Prime logo.

      • Nope. Products with only 1-2 reviews can outrank those with 100s of reviews if they have higher ratings. This skews the whole point of the sorting, imho. I even posted this issue in the Amazon forums and it’s a known issue , but no one seems to care about it.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I hate this, and I’m sorry to see you advertising it here. I’m sure some people can leave honest reviews under these circumstances, but I’ve found I’m learning to pick out products that have these paid reviews. They’re the products with a large number of terse five star reviews. (Believe me, in many cases, people do not do as required and state they received a free product.) Anyway, then they’ll be a few lengthier reviews, often with fewer stars. Then you notice the five star reviews were all done at the same time.

    In short, it is just another factor diluting the accuracy of Amazon reviews.

    I think Vine is potentially better because only reviewers with a proven track record are selected. I myself have written at least a couple hundred reviews. I had the opportunity to write a review for a free (expensive) product, and I found I couldn’t write a fully honest one knowing that the seller of the product would be reading it. Even when I decided not to partake in the free product, I found it hard to write a fully honest review knowing that clearly the vendor is closely reading reviews.

    • I understand your feelings, and I really do think this behavior is “peaking” as it has been going on a long time in the cutthroat Amazon world (as you probably know) and I’ve never written about it before getting this aggressive press release from SnagShout. I predict a reaction from Amazon.

      These review sites should also provide them valuable feedback as to how to improve their product. I’ve seen vendors ask for reviews, get negative ones pointing out an important flaw, pull their product, fix it, and then re-release the fixed versions. If your product never gets any initial traction, you may never find out these flaws.

    • I’m so glad others are noticing the odd coincidences and correlations here. Thanks for vocalizing. On one product with 75 reviews, EVERY SINGLE review said “I received this product for a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.” When you receive something for free, I believe it’s difficult (human nature) to be truly “unbiased.”

      • I belong to the uberzion club and finally bought my first couple items (I was too slow for the others I tried). One is a sleep supplement that doesnt work for me (they never do). and the other is another item I feel is cheaply made and grossly overpriced at about $20. I paid $1 or $2 for it and am trying to decide what to do when it comes time to write the review. On Amazon, virually all the “honest in exhange for” reviews are very positive. You’d never think it’s cheaply made, but it is. It’s worth $4 at most. Do I write an honest review (that it’s overpriced junk) and risk getting no more offers, or contact the seller (who wrote me an email asking for me to contact them before I write the review if I’m not happy with the product)?

        • @Robert S: Most, if not all, sellers ask you to contact them first if you’re not satisfied enough to leave a positive review, from Amazon to eBay. Go ahead and contact them and let them know your concerns, and see what they say. I couldn’t in good conscience leave a good review for a bad product, or even not disclose a major flaw in something I was reviewing, even if I got it for free. Thank goodness I have not had to make that choice yet (I do these reviews too, and have had excellent luck in the products I’ve chosen to receive.. but I’m picky and evaluate them as much as possible before hand).

          • I’m a member of amazon Review Trader and Uberzon and I always disclose that I received a discount, and discount or not, my reviews are honest. I don’t hesitate to leave two star or one star reviews if I am not happy with a product, and even when I send them back (and I have sent back a LOT of these products), I am still required by the site to leave a review, and I do. Most of the sellers have been really nice and have tried to be helpful when I have tried to contact them. Some haven’t bothered to answer. The amazon review process is really important to me because it IS how I evaluate products on amazon, but I do see that this discounted product thing is diluting the reviews.

            I wonder if it’s because of someone got something for free or cheap, they don’t care as much about the review they are leaving? I take a lot of supplements and I’ve even tried the supplements for some of them, and I really disagree with the 10 day review rule – there is no proper way for me to truly evaluate a supplement within ten days, I need at least a month. So when I write the review I make sure and disclose that as well.

            I guess not everyone takes this as seriously as we do, and that does sadden me.

  3. FYI this is the complimenting Amazon Review Club website for AMZ Tracker: https://www.AMZreviewTrader.com

    All AMZ Tracker review deals go to this site.

    Cheers

    • Thanks, updated the post.

    • I’ve been a member of amzreviewtrader.com and they list tons of products but then you have to ‘send a request’ to the seller to see if they OK you to review their product. I’m listed in the 90,000 top amazon reviewer (not great but not bad) and I’ve only received one OK to purchase an item and review it for them. I prefer some of the other sites out there to them. I just waste my time on there if I’m bored but it is a lot of work for very little payback. Do others here have better luck with them?

      • I tried one called HonestFew that sent out emails with available products and you had to quickly claim them in order to get anything. I hated it… the emails just became spam and you might get 5 emails with knee braces or something and nothing else. 😀 I gave up on it pretty quick, but am loving Snagshout so far… you can basically shop through their site for “snags” so it’s more like regular online shopping. I’ve gotten some pretty useful stuff and I strive to leave very thorough and very honest reviews. I do the same with stuff I just bought regularly thru Amazon though… the review system is so helpful, I like to contribute. But even as a snagshout user, honestly I trust reviews with the disclaimer a lot less. Snagshout for instance limits the number of things you can “snag” at once (starting with 1, and increasing the more you order and reliably review), so the quicker you review things the quicker you can snag another deal. So I think most people probably don’t use the product much, if at all, before reviewing. Certainly we can’t review for long-term use (since a review has to be posted within 2 weeks), but I try to go back and add updates to my reviews after I’ve used the thing for a longer time. I also try to vote up as “helpful” reviews that are actually good and vote down the ones that just say like “it’s okay” and nothing else.

        I’ve already had one company adjust their listing (and I think their actual product) in response to my unfavorable review, so that’s kind of satisfying. 😀 And I’m poor so the discounts are certainly nice. If Snagshout ever cut me off because I leave actually honest reviews, I’d rather lose the discounts than contribute to their system. But I really like them so far, though I agree it seems harder for people to be critical this way.

      • I get approvals from them all the time, but I get just as many rejections. I’m honestly not sure why, and frankly, I’m a little surprised at how often I do get approvals, considering I really do leave HONEST feedback, and that includes how bad products are sometimes. I’m no stranger to the 1 or 2 star review, and I almost NEVER leave 5 stars. But I do try and leave feedback for every one I get. I’ve been an amazon member almost since its inception though, and have left a lot of reviews. I’m no top reviewer by any means, so really, I have zero idea what their criteria are for approving or not approving certain things. For example, I take a ton of supplements because I have some severe health conditions, and I often request to review supplements, because I honestly DO take them and will know the difference. And yet I almost never get approved for supplement reviews. Go figure.

        But I’d say I am having pretty decent luck with receiving approval with them, especially compared to Uberzon, where I almost never am fast enough to get anything.

  4. I’ve seen a few of these products on Amazon and to me the reviews seemed all the more fake. They were all 4-5 stars with a disclaimer that they received it at a discounted price. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make me want to pay full price when the seller is basically giving it away in exchange for an ‘unbiased’ review.

    • I don’t necessarily mind the “paid” reviews, but I wish there was some way to filter them out. I was recently looking for a pair of earbuds to replace some that died, and found lots of the very positive reviews were in exchange for freebies. Even though they all say “in exchange for an honest review” I can’t think of one where it was less than 4 stars.

      If I could filter out these “paid” reviews at least I’d know what regular people think of the product.

      • This is why I always look at the 1- and 2-star reviews, even for highly rated products. At least then you’ll see the potential issues and decide accordingly. For example, Plum Organics has a big line of baby food pouches that are usually highly rated 4-5 stars average, but the 1-star reviews point out that the first few ingredients of even their “kale, quinoa, blueberry, greek yogurt” pouch are… applesauce and water!

        • Yeah. Me too. Because sometimes the users review the item way to early, like after un-boxing them. I mean, they should at least try using the product for a week. A month would be better. Downside to waiting is that, including myself, it gets to be too much of an effort to go online and enter reviews unless you really really like the item or you have an issue with it.

          • Your not allowed to trial for a month – most sites insist review within 14 days. I have just had a warning on one site because I do try everything for at least a week and got behind on reviews of products one is just over the two weeks and they warned me that I could loose my account. They want them too fast – however to everyone not trusting the reviews you should many of us are being honest I make no concessions for the fact it cost me less. Everything I write is honest I have given some 3 stars but as I choose things I want then most of the time so long as it works then it is good

        • Jonathan, recently Amazon changed their policy regarding “honest” reviews. Amazon decided to remove the “verified purchase” badge from all reviewers that received the products for free. Now if I want to purchase a product, if I see that the item has a LOT of reviews without “verified purchase” badge, that’s a red flag for me.

          Another thing that I noticed, a lot of those shady sellers might manipulate their 1- and 2- star reviews by voting down them so that they do not show up on their listings. If I see a lot of 1- and 2- star reviews with excessive “not helpful” reviews, that’s another red flag.

          • Ooooh, that’s good to know, I didn’t realize either of those things. I’m guessing Amazon will be doing a big overhaul on its review guidelines and algorhithms, then.

            I always look at the lowest reviews, as well, to check potential issues, and although I DO receive products at a discount, I am just as hard on those products in my reviews as I am with anything I pay full price for.

    • If you are looking at a pretty decent item (electronics, sporting goods, etc) then the discount isn’t always that fantastic. I got a great dog bed for my pooch but only got 30% off so it isn’t like we get all these things for free.

      • Very few of the things offered are free, in fact. For the stuff I buy it’s almost always a discount, and almost never free. Very occasionally I’ll get something free, but it’s not ever anything big, and usually it ends up being not so great.

  5. Nick R. says:

    Does anyone else get an error when trying to link your Amazon profile to Snagshout?

  6. this actually sound like something I would do if the products are not all vitamins like you say.

    I really don’t know what the problem is with reviews like these they are not fake and if the review is good maybe the product is really good. I for one would say when a product is bad even if it was free.

    With any review place you actually have to read reviews you can’t just look at stars and like johnathan said you want to start with the negative reviews. Often those are from people got a defective product.

  7. Levi Henrikson says:

    I currently sell privately-labeled products on Amazon so I have experience on the other side of this equation. I can tell you that, at least with the way Amazon’s ranking algorithms currently work, it is practically impossible to get ranked on Page One without giving away a substantial amount of inventory in exchange for reviews. This is not necessarily bad though. It rewards the sellers that are patient, long-range thinkers and willing to take a loss upfront in order to get visibility. Usually sellers won’t do this unless they are diligent and have selected a product they believe will be well-received by the marketplace.

    I personally don’t condone using third party “Review Clubs.” It’s great for buyers but not a good long-term solution for sellers. Amazon is getting better at cracking down on “unnatural” review patterns–like seeing the same set of reviewers show up at about the same time on products in different categories. From a seller’s perspective, it’s far better to build your own list.

    • Thank you for chiming in with this perspective, it’s helpful to know as a buyer.

      From what I’ve seen with the review clubs, I’d say 99% of the products offered are the cheaper…well, stuff I’d call “cheap plastic crap from China”. Only occasionally do I end up with something I’d gladly have paid full price for. My son’s gaming headphones are an example of the latter, we really lucked out with those, at least for his purposes.

      But things like when I was trying to find a really good pair of compression socks and so tried several different ones (all horrible junk), and a decent sleep mask (again, all junk, and I ended up going back to the handmade one I’d been using originally) – big fails. And the wrist blood pressure cuff….my doctor told me to throw it out, it’s junk. That sort of thing. So it’s REALLY hit or miss with those sites.

      However, whenever I am about to go buy something on Amazon that I need, I do go check those sites first to see if maybe I can get it at a discount, and sometimes I’ve really lucked out with that (when I get approved).

      Anyway, I am clearly digressing, I just wanted to appreciate the sellers perspective here.

  8. Nick R. says:

    Works great for me. Already ordered 2 products from each of the two clubs recommended here. I think I can easily get 4 to 6 products per week. Thanks, Jonathan.

  9. I just bought something I kind of wanted but didn’t want to pay for. Original price about $30. With the deal code and credit card points, got it for just over $2.

  10. I have been enrolled in Uberzon club for a couple of months, and it has been a great opportunity to try beauty products like Vitamin C serums which I would, ordinarily, forego due to a limited budget. At least I have an idea of what products are good. This sort of experimentation is ordinarily out of my price range. I have also gotten a couple of gadgets, and that is fun.

    I make every effort to give an honest review. What I generally do is to outline both the pros and cons of the product. As an example, I tried a Vitamin C serum which was equipped with an eye dropper. I loved the results of the serum (my skin took on a glow which even my dear husband noticed, without prompting), but I learned early on, this container requires care, or someone as clumsy as I may knock it over and lose half the product, while applying the precious drops to their face. The pump is safer for clumsy folks.

    For whatever, this review has gone “hidden”, and I wonder if the seller asked Amazon to suppress the review, or what happened. This is one of several reviews I have done recently which Amazon has chosen to hide (the other was for a Melatonin product, for which I paid the full price asked), so I’m not certain what the story is – I make every effort to write a helpful review, and am perplexed when the site decides I may be biased.

    So, I would say, go ahead, and try the products. If you value your time even as low as minimum wage, however, and factor that in, the costs of evaluating whether to order the products, jumping through the hoops to order them, and then using, evaluating their merits, and reviewing, may require more time than the value you are receiving for it.

    Write an honest review. The vendors certainly shouldn’t be using this venue to obtain reviews, if they are selling shoddy or bad merchandise. If you react to a product, understand, others probably don’t share your sensitivities, and your reactions may have less to do with a fault in the product than in your own unique set of sensitivities. Be kind, but be honest. You can almost always find something positive to say about nearly any product, to temper whatever other issues you may need to bring to the seller’s attention.

  11. Buyers should always make an educated guess when evaluating a product on Amazon per its reviews. Competition between sellers caused many of them to encourage negative reviews on their competitors products. The only difference is that buyers with “Fake” negative review will not make a disclaimer.

    I alway read the product description well and then take the review with a grain of salt!

  12. Lately many Amazon’s stuffs are crappy stuff from China, and surprisingly they have glowing reviews.
    A lot of “private label” sellers are manipulating reviews by giving away their products to thousands of “reviewers”.
    If you see an unknown brand that accumulates thousands of reviews within a month or 2 months after launching the product, BEWARE!
    Here is one example of shady seller. The brand name is Art Naturals and they sell different kind of beauty products. Many of their beauty products are in top 5 of different beauty sub-category.
    Check their reviews and you will see how they manipulate the system.

    http://www.amazon.com/ArtNaturals/b/ref=bl_dp_s_web_11351359011?ie=UTF8&node=11351359011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=ArtNaturals

  13. Just FYI, sites like Secret Deals Club and Amazing Review Club allow you to only see TWO products at a time. I would recommend ReviewKick over these, as users are granted access to multiple pages of deals to pick from rather than being forced to choose between only two (very likely irrelevant and uninteresting) deals before being allowed to view other deals.

  14. Jerry Guan says:

    Another website worth to try is http://www.dealgogogo.com. It lists tons of products with great discounts and the best part is you can request and get the coupon code immediately, no waiting to approve.
    Check it out !

  15. This is a really horrible practice and one which is poisoning Amazon reviews. I cannot believe how short sighted the companies which do it are….as soon as I read that “I received this product at a discount in exchange for my review” disclaimer, I immediately back out of the page and look at another product. ANY company who does it is inherently dishonest and shady in my eyes, and I suspect most people feel the same way. You’d have to be virtually brain dead to trust a review that has effectively been paid for, and I really hope Amazon clamp down and make it against the rules soon. Because it’s become an infestation on Amazon and it’s really compromising the whole integrity of Amazon.

  16. Tommy Noonan says:

    We analyzed over 7 million Amazon reviews and found that reviewers who received a free or discounted product are much more likely to leave a positive review. Also, more than half of all new reviews on Amazon are from these review clubs. It’s a growing problem. Our full data is here: http://reviewmeta.com/blog/analysis-of-7-million-amazon-reviews-customers-who-receive-free-or-discounted-item-much-more-likely-to-write-positive-review/