Medialink Threatens Customer With Lawsuit For Writing A Negative Amazon Review

from the how-not-to-win-fans dept

It's an age-old story. Guy buys a router. Router sucks. Guy writes negative 1-star review on Amazon. Company threatens to sue him for defamation. Because it's not like every other attempt to sue over negative reviews ends badly.

It is true that Reddit user trevely's original review did make some strong claims, which clearly, the router maker, Medialink, objected to. Trevely has since edited his review to clarify which parts were opinion and which were clear facts. Medialink's main complaints were that the original review claimed that many of the positive reviews of their router were fake, and that the router was just a rebranded version of someone else's router. Still, the original review was no worse than many standard negative reviews, and given how many other reviews Medialink had, you'd think that Medialink would just let this go, rather than call in the lawyers -- and suddenly get so much more attention to the negative review. Oh, and more attention to the positive reviews... and their legitimacy.

Whether or not they are actually fake, some Reddit users have certainly spotted some fairly questionable 5-star reviews, like the one guy who seems to think that the router is actually a set of car headlight bulbs. And, others have long suspected fake reviews on the product, so it's not like trevely just made this up out of nowhere.

As for the rebranding claim, well, as the original review noted, that seems to be confirmed by a filing with the FCC, in which Medialink directly says that the equipment is "electrically identical" to the Tenda router that trevely was pointing to. Oops.

Meanwhile, Amazon's seller rules are pretty strict about not letting its merchants try to influence user reviews -- either pushing for positive reviews or threatening over negative ones. Given, as treverly noted in his own initial review, that Medialink seems to exist almost entirely based on Amazon, breaking Amazon's rules by threatening a negative review (with a questionable lawsuit, no less) may wipe out the channel the company relies on. Either way, what Amazon does might not matter, because now the Reddit crowd has jumped in, and Medialink/Mediabridge's name may be even more associated with bogus legal bullying than crappy routers -- though I can't see how either one helps the company very much.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 8:07am

    Lots of people rely heavily on Amazon reviews. The comments are a great asset for Amazon. Sometimes I even check the Amazon reviews before buying in a brick and mortar. Last week I was doing that and ended up just buying the item from Amazon because they had a brand that I liked better than anything I was finding locally.

    Amazon really can't afford to have companies like this damage the reputation of its review system. It will be interesting to see if they take any action on this particular situation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    S. T. Stone, May 7th, 2014 @ 8:59am

    I wonder if Barbra Streisand knows anything about routers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    timmaguire42 (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:00am

    The irony is, people don't expect all the reviews to be positive. Things happen, some customers are unreasonable. We get that. If 90% are positive, the product is probably pretty good, and vice versa.

    But if a company threatens negative reviewers, then I don't care if the reviews are 99% positive. I'm not buying from a company that begrudges unhappy customers the right to vent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    scotts13 (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    I know someone who don't buy anything - from other sites, or brick-and-mortar - without reading the Amazon reviews. It's her prime shopping criteria, and I must say she's gotten some fairly questionable products that way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    I haven't had good luck with Amazon reviews at all, personally. Too many of them (both positive and negative) are just bogus or ill-informed. A while back, I simply stopped reading them except when someone points out some funny ones to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Rich, May 7th, 2014 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    I believe she finds them effective.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    DB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    I usually go straight for the negative reviews.

    If the negative reviews are questionable or bogus, I then consider the product features.

    I was recently looking at waffle makers. Many of the positive reviews were "I like waffles" or "made a great gift". Perhaps those are useful if you are clueless about food or what makes a good gift (perfume == good gift, deodorant == bad gift). But really.. no, useless.

    The negative reviews are the ones that point out the flaws. Getting one star for an opened package or bad shipping is easily distinguished from one star for a non-stick coating that flakes off starting with the first use. Things like "awkward to store" and "ugly" are even better, because I can decide if they are important to me.

    When a company can suppress or promote reviews, I can't trust anything. They are likely trying to hide substantial flaws, and I can't tell if they succeeded.

     

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  8.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    I do this as well. I hardly ever read the positive reviews.

    It's usually fairly easy to sniff out the BS negative reviews like "I stepped on my iPhone and it broke - 1 star" from the useful reviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 9:32am

    Re:

    This is pretty much how I review shop too.
    If I see a reoccurring complaint in every 1-2 star review I know what kind of issue I might be dealing with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    That's pretty much what i do. It has worked out well enough with my purchases so far. I also look to see if a lot of questions on a product have been asked and what type of reply they get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:43am

    At some point the braintrusts inside companies decided that the brand is the most important thing.
    They are owed amazing reviews even if what they make is crap.
    A single review suddenly is going to cost them trillions, so they have to stomp them out.
    (We only used to see this sort of entitlement from media cartels)

    They have no understanding of the internet and how it works. They are owed good reviews and will purchase them rather than provide quality products & service to consumers. They either don't follow up on the reviews they have purchased, or are so far out of touch with reality that they think we can't spot them.

    This also is what happens when we have to many lawyers with to much free time, inventing busy work that manages to hurt their clients more than any bad review might.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    I do this too. I've seen negative reviews where people rate something with one star over something fairly trivial (it's unrelated to Amazon, but a local gym here in Colorado received a negative review because the guy claimed they would never change the channel from Fox News), and I'm sure thee's plenty of these on Amazon too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 9:59am

    I've seen the bot reviews before, but paid reviewers I think are a whole different kind of monster.

    I've even been offered (On Reddit, ironically) to write reviews for $100-$400 a pop on yelp, trip advisor and Google plus after posting in the jobs section for Denver.

    For $400, I think most people could create some pretty convincing reviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    bshock, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    thank you!

    I'd just like to thank trevely for pointing out an inferior product and inferior company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    MikeC (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:10am

    I actually own a media link router

    I've used a media link router for the last couple of years.. worked flawlessly just like it was supposed to. Replaced it with a ASUS 'cause I needed to run Tomato Software. I was really suspicious of all the positive reviews - I use amazon reviews all the time to evaluate products. I spot a lot of obvious shill reviews, filter them out, look at negatives for repeating issues.

    Company is stupid to call out a neg review when it's so overwhelmed by positives in the MediaLink case. But then if all the companies used their heads, they would all be driving gold plated benz's ... I swear the harbinger of the downfall of any civilization is the opening of the first law school!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Mikael (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    As another "me too" on this one. The first thing I read are the negative reviews. I do this in stores as well. While I'm price matching stuff on Amazon I will read through the reviews too.

    Quite often though I come across items where the person said they didn't even buy it from Amazon, but they are reviewing it there anyway.

    I came across a 1 star review for the AT&T Note 3, but the reviewer stated they got their device from Verizon. Their review was based on just simply not knowing the features of the device and when it was pointed out that they were reviewing the AT&T version they insisted the review was still valid because it was the same device. -_-

     

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  17.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re: I actually own a media link router

    Company is stupid to call out a neg review when it's so overwhelmed by positives in the MediaLink case.

    And that's what makes this move of theirs so incredibly stupid. Now, even if those positive review are honest, by going so absolutely ballistic over this one negative review, all those positive reviews are now going to be called into question.

    Did they really enjoy the product, or are the reviews just useless ads disguised as reviews?

    What's been left out of the reviews, that might have otherwise been noted, for fear, or in response to, a negative response from the company?

    Basically, after acting like this over a negative review, all those positive reviews are now worthless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    streetlight (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    Two words: Streisand Effect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    I look at the 3's first. I figure they are the people that found both something they didn't like and something they did and may have useful information in their reviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    Re: I actually own a media link router

    How much did they pay you for this review?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Mark Gisleson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:45am

    Go to Craigslist. It's a rare day when there are no ads for product reviewers. The pay is so dreadful the people writing them really don't have time to go to the website to see the product, let alone use it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:58am

    Re:

    Agree.

    Some percentage of any manufactured products is always going to break, or be defective. There are always going to be software bugs.

    What matters to me is how a company responds to those perfectly ordinary things. If suing their customers is how they respond, I'm staying far, far away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    bob, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re:

    Agreed.
    There are also many positive (5 star) reviews based on "product got delivered promptly".
    for some people "works as expected" is a 5 star feeling and for others it's a 3 star feeling, 5 stars being reserved for "exceeded expectations".
    overall, people still need to take the time to look through what people are writing.
    unless it's one of those "4,000 reviews" with a nice curve distribution. then you can pretty much trust the wave. but reading the negatives for recurring issues can still be insightful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    Agreed. Years ago I was about to buy something from some eBay seller and decided to check out his ratings. He had a a near 100% favorable rating despite having a lot of sales. Something seemed off.

    In reading through the ratings he basically went on a tirade and forced people to change their ratings. In other words, his nearly 100% rating was false and was based entirely on his insanity.

    Believe me, that was a much bigger turn off than a few bad ratings would have been. Nothing is perfect. I can accept that. But I won't willingly accept insanity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    jackn, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:29am

    Re:

    and don't forget the Mechanical Turk by Amazon.

    You have to read between the lines, but always, you can find paid review jobs

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Peter (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Amazon website 7 May 2014, 8 pm GMT
    (http://www.amazon.com/Medialink-Wireless-N-Broadband-Internal-Antennas/dp/B00A3YN0Z0/ref=cm_rdp_ product)
    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    10,466 of 10,507 people found the following review helpful
    This company threatened me for my negative review
    By TD on September 26, 2013

    and a quote highlighted by Amazon at the top of the comments section:
    "Company harrasses and threatens to sue people when they post a negative review of this product....do you really want to buy from someone like that?"

    Well done, Medialink!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Sunhawk (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    Hell, for $400 I might very well go to the place in question and spend a half-hour or somewhat more one evening writing a review emphasizing the positive traits.

    Assuming it was a reasonable experience, at least.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Paul Alan Levy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:12pm

    Almost a parody of a demand letter

    The demand letter is way over the top - it included a litigation hold demand? It demands that the reviewer not buy any Media Bridge products?

    Too bad trevely blacked out the name of the lawyer and the law firm than sent the demand letter. The lawyer should face the Streisand effect too!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    madasahatter (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re:

    I have found Amazon reviews are a mixed bag. Some are very useful and others are useless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    madasahatter (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Or another problem, the product is not exactly what the person wanted.

    The reasons I can see for a poor rating:
    1. lousy product.
    2. particular item defective.
    3. product description confused the purchaser into believing it was suitable for a particular use when it was not.
    4. somewhat analogous to 3, the product not a good fit to the purchaser's needs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Yep, I don't believe ratings that have big numbers and don't have a few bad or midling ratings.

    Congratulations Medialink you are now officially a bad product due solely to your legal department.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Mark Noo, May 7th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    I was a cab driver and a student. Now I am a cab driver looking for a job.

    Anyway, the important thing is, I meet a lot of people. And I meet a lot of people who tell me their job is social media marketing.
    They get paid to go out and say good things about products. That is what commercials do, what is the problem?

    I do not think many social media marketers disclose they are paid by product manufacturers. These are not affilliate marketers that we know are salesmen.

    These people act like your neighbor.

    For the internet savvy this is not a problem. What about those who do not know. The thing to remember is that if companies are paying for social media marketers, it is because what they do works. They take advantage of the naive. I think in stock trading they call this "pump and dump".

    Stop by Fiverr or SEO Clerks anytime you need a product review. They can help.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    MikeC (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: I actually own a media link router

    sorry if your serious - actually did own one, worked like was supposed to, sold it on ebay a few months back. Doesn't change the fact that the company is an idiot for how it handled the review.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Walt, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    I have three problems with a tenda router.

    1. Unable to configure it from Slackware Linux.
    2. No DHCP for the wireless.
    3. It is not an effective paperweight or doorstop.

    Walt R.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    QA (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    The first thing that I do (besides discounting most of the 1- and 5-star reviews on Amazon, is to click on the "see all my reviews" link next to the reviewer's location.
    If the product in question is the only product that s/he has reviewed, I immediately discount it. To me that smacks of either a competitor or a shill, respectively.

    I also tend to discount "cheerleaders'" and "naysayers'" (consistently 5 or 1 stars, respectively, for all products reviewed) reviews.

    What I do tend to pay more attention to is a review that is atypical for a particular reviewer (e.g., Usually positive or neutral for most products reviewed, but is reviewing this product more negatively). Also, highly detailed reviews earn more credibility from me than, "...the product was stupid" ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    aesop, May 8th, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    yup

    When I read reviews I always look for a good negative one. Every product has failure rates, it's not surprising that there are some. Then you have to consider what the product is. If it's a wireless router where there are lots of stupid things people can do to incorrectly set up the product you need to discount some of those too. I generally look for good anecdotal story with evidence that the reviewer knows what he/she is talking about. If you don't know about the subject to be able to tell a good review from a bad review, try searching for the subject on the web.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Chris, May 9th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    How to do reviews right

    Newegg.com started something a while back where reviews by people who are confirmed to have actually purchased the item through them are given a higher priority than others.

    Personally, I think this is what Amazon needs to do in order to restore confidence in their review system. It should be pretty easy for them to figure out if the reviewer acttuualy bought and paid for the product through them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 10:13pm

    Re:

    And of course they still can't admit that they screwed up, instead they try the guilt-trip 'Many people could lose their jobs over this'. Well maybe you lot should have thought of potential consequences before threatening to let lose the lawyers...

    One review, for one product, and their insane over-reaction in order to 'protect' their business gets them kicked off of Amazon entirely... yup, those threats of a lawsuit really paid off for them now didn't they? /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Trevor, May 12th, 2014 @ 7:32am

    Reddit lawsuit

    After extensive e mails with Reddit, what the article does not mention is that apparently the reviewer didn't even own the router he was writing the negative review about!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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