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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

Firm won't delete it even though it's totally false

Trading Standards has this week intervened on behalf of a small business owner to ask Amazon to reconsider its refusal to remove a factually inaccurate review.

Steve Smith, director of nuisance call screening company trueCall Care, complained to Amazon regarding a serious claim his device blocks all incoming calls from the emergency services. The reviewer said this means users could be delayed important care.

As the only negative review, it has been given prominence on Amazon’s view page. Smith says this has been "very damaging to our product".

The device does block calls from unknown numbers, which the emergency services use as part of their call back service.

However, the device clearly states a message to unknown callers: “If you’re family, a friend or an invited caller please press 5*. If you’re a cold caller please hang up and don’t call us again,” it says. Therefore calls from the emergency services can get through.

Smith has offered to submit the evidence to Amazon, but as the company's review guidelines appear to make no provision for factually inaccurate reviews, it has refused to take action.

"The difficulty is if something was factually inaccurate in any other medium, I would have some recourse for action," Smith said.

In a letter to Amazon he said: "We have no problem with consumers leaving honest feedback, even if this is negative," adding that the review in question "is simply not true".

In its response to Smith, Amazon said: "This review is within our posted guidelines. We won't remove the review in its current format and we aren't able to consider the removal of this review any further."

Last month trade regulator the Competition and Markets Authority closed its consultation examining the practice of online reviews and endorsements.

In part of its response to the consultation, Trading Standards recommended a review of the law to enable traders to address inaccurate and libellous reviews.

It also called for greater guidance for intermediary websites regarding their legal liabilities.

El Reg has contacted Amazon and is awaiting a response. ®

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