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Michael Bayard and Belkin: What’s the Big Deal

January 20, 2009

If you’ve been reading large blogs like Engadget lately, you probably noticed that they are doing a lot of coverage on Belkin, Michael Bayard, and Amazon.

Basically, for those of you that haven’t been reading it, the whole hype is this: a Belkin employee (Michael Bayard) recently went on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system and told people that he would pay them 65 cents per positive review.

He also told prospective fake-writers to down-rate any reviews that said that the product was bad. Now, here’s the thing: this product (a router) has a long history of bad performance. So Bayard was basically destroying the honesty of Amazon reviews.

Belkin probably had nothing to do with this, but this Bayard person has everything to do with it. Whereas everyone before thought that this was an elaborate hoax, now Belkin has gone public:

Belkin has always held itself to the highest standards of corporate ethics and its employees to the highest standards of personal integrity

So, it was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment.

Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this … we are extremely sorry that this happened.

Once again, we apologize for this occurrence, and we will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost.

As you just read, that was parts of a letter from the president of Belkin, Mark Reynoso.

So today it stands to reason that these fake messages really should be stopped. We also learn important things from this incident:

Instead of trying to cover up bad design by paying people, they should actually try to fix the product. Release a new version of it. Sure, it will cost money. But this is something customers deserve.

I’m frankly very disappointed in Belkin. While I have no products from Belkin currently in use at my household, these things heavily damage the reputation of Belkin. I am sure that Belkin is a good company, but workers like these must be stopped.

User reviews are more important than professional reviews from large newspapers because people have nothing to gain or lose by writing a bad or good review. Until Bayard enticed them with 65 cents.

It also sets a very bad statement to people. 65 cents isn’t much. You can’t buy much with it. Personally, if I had accepted 65 cents to write a fake review, I would feel horrible inside.

I put more trust in user reviews, because professional reviewers have a long-standing possibility of being bribed. And now users are also being bribed. This kind of practice just really annoys me.

If you have anything to say, feel free to do so in the comments.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jorge Serrano Limón permalink
    May 3, 2009 8:27 pm

    [quote]people have nothing to gain or lose by writing a bad or good review. Until Bayard enticed them with 65 cents.[/quote]

    You must be joking.

    Public opinion has been corrupted ever since public opinion mattered. Look to the clacquers of nineteenth-century Paris; look to the advice Niccolò Machiavelli gives to his prince.

    Here’s the litmus test for corporate honesty: Did Reynoso fire Bayard for malfeasance? If not, then all of Belkin is soiled. It would seem that Belkin has not yet made a full accounting of Bayard’s actions in that his employment status remains unresolved and many ancillary allegations remain unaddressed.

    For many years now, Belkin has been adding to the U.S.’s foreign debt without contributing to the U.S.’s productivity. It’s time to stand and deliver.

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