Consumer Alert: Why Review Sites Link to Amazon, Revealed

Report: Does your favorite product review site link directly to the businesses profiled or to Amazon where they may profiteer from affiliate marketing?

image1 300x197 - Consumer Alert: Why Review Sites Link to Amazon, RevealedEven if there is a transparent disclaimer, product review sites inch towards losing their objectivity and credibility when they link to Amazon. When was the last time you clicked on and read a disclaimer anyway?

The list of offenders is vast, yet easy to identify. When you next read a review and it directs you to purchase the item from Amazon, pause. Cut and paste the item and search for a link directly to that small business and company to support them — not Amazon. If not, there are many fees that cost dearly. From returns to affiliate charges and more, the companies are affected. It leads to further erosion of “mom and pop” retailers and the disappearing landscape of local businesses.

The Amazon Effect. Warehouses: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

When Wirecutter (owned by The New York Times and run by journalists and deal hunters) was contacted, they replied with a defensive Tweet, rather than fixing the problem.  They do have this prominent disclaimer: “Wirecutter is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.”

Is that disclaimer enough? Wirecutter is not alone as many consumer media outlets have their own deals. Even Oprah Magazine has the famed “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list which listened to our advocacy campaign and fixed their problem. Previously, the deals went to an Oprah-branded Amazon order page, but they now also directly support small businesses. When AARP profiled ScanMyPhotos as a top tech gift, they directly linked to us and the other companies profiled. Doing so mitigates confusion and creates more transparent journalism while directly supporting small businesses.

At ScanMyPhotos, we regularly score national news and reviews by the nation’s top reporters but have been overlooked by Wirecutter even though our novel one cent photo scanning service has earned national attention and consumer raves. Is it because we do not sell on Amazon? And now we are certainly not holding our breath after this report.


As part of our investigation, several of the companies profiled by Wirecutter, yet linked to Amazon were contacted. Their reply on Twitter was revealing. To their credit, some times they link to more than just Amazon and also directly to the company profiled, but the latter must occur with each review when direct ordering is available.

The lesson. Companies profiled by Wirecutter were happy to respond with a direct link to their site to order the recommended products. Now if only every review site would equally share those direct links.

From Ring: Hey there! We saw your Tweet and wanted to reach out. If you are a neighbor looking for Ring Video Doorbell or Ring Cam, find them on our online store at:

To Consumer Report’s credit, when they review a product a variety of links to buy is included. This link to a profile on Nest Hello Video Doorbell home security camera demonstrates the difference. However, they omitted a direct link to NEST, so we are here.

This hashtag campaign can help inspire review sites to share the love and link directly to each product profiled, rather than to Amazon.


#LinkReviewsToCompanies pioneered bulk photo scanning and disrupted the world of photography with its years of innovations. But we are also a national consumer advocate too. When we took on the banks and credit card companies as lead plaintiff in the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history it empowered us to address other social and consumer issues over the years. A Google search reveals all. Now we are weaponized against review sites which may profiteer from promoting products which they benefit from. Objectivity is eclipsed by profiteering when linking to Amazon and setting up an affiliate program.

The solution. Reach out to all review sites and request they link their “buy now” button directly to the service provided. It is an easy fix.

The greatest threat to commerce is now Amazon’s two days of Prime Day deals. Yet, this #PrimeDay, Amazon’s market power will be under fire as companies are battling back, hacking and ambushing #PrimeDayDeals. eBay and WalMart are launching their own direct deals. ScanMyPhotos is too with 1¢ photo scanning. Is your company engaging and planning to weaponize against Amazon?

The ScanMyPhotos Story