The Federal Trade Commission has fined Bountiful Company, the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins, for hijacking Amazon’s reviews.
Bountiful Company abused a feature on Amazon’s website that is designed to let companies showcase small variations of the same product, such as when a company makes a product in several different colors.
The supplement-maker abused the feature, using it to promote newer products by piggybacking them on older, established, and well-reviewed ones. This essentially gave newer products more credit than they may have deserved, tricking consumers into buying them.
“Boosting your products by hijacking another product’s ratings or reviews is a relatively new tactic, but is still plain old false advertising,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The Bountiful Company is paying back $600,000 for manipulating product pages and deceiving consumers.”
The final consent order was approved 4-0, marking the first time the FTC has tackled “review hijacking.”
In addition to requiring that Bountiful pay $600,000 as monetary relief for consumers, the final order prohibits Bountiful from making similar types of misrepresentations and bars the company from using deceptive review tactics that distort what consumers think about its products or services.