Congratulations, Belkin — you’re the first third-party manufacturer to release official products for Apple’s (AAPL) Lightning connector port! Belkin on Monday released two Lightning-related products: A Lightning car charger to help iPhone fans keep their devices charged while driving and charge-and-sync dock that keeps the iPhone charged at home. Both products can be pre-ordered now for $29.99 each and are slated to ship in mid-November. Apple this month has scheduled a special seminar for third-party manufacturers that want to make Lightning-compatible products and more Lightning accessories will hit the market later this month after Apple officially certifies more OEMs.
Allow us to quickly bring you up to speed: The Daily Background did a bit of digging when it came across some ads on Mechanical Turk offering to compensate people for writing positive reviews about Belkin products, as well as up-voting pro-Belkin comments. What did the digging uncover? A Belkin rep on the Business Development / eCommerce team posted the ads. Busted. Now that you have all the background you need, enjoy a snippet from Belkin President Mark Reynoso’s response:
Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened.
We want to stress that this is an isolated incident and to re-instill trust with you, we have taken the following courses of action:
- We’ve acted swiftly to remove all associated postings from the Mechanical Turk system.
– We’re working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed.
Who does crisis control for these guys? Throwing Michael Bayard out to the wolves and trying to pass this off as the actions of a single employee is definitely not the way to go. We only hope that Bayard doesn’t become more of a scapegoat here – the odds are fairly good that he had management’s approval for this ‘campaign’ as you can be sure he wasn’t reimbursing participants out of his pocket. Either way, Bayard is going to have a pretty big stain on his resume as a result of this scandal. Lucky for him, some crazy bongo drummer still holds the top few spots on a Google search with his name.
Sadly, it looks like the answer to that question is “yes”. According to The Daily Background, an ad recently appeared on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site looking for folks to fill out positive reviews of Belkin products, regardless of whether or not they had actually used them. In return, reviewers would be compensated to the tune of $.65/review. Sounds….shady, but perhaps the ad was posted by some frenzied Belkin fanboy looking to improve his favorite company’s product ratings, right? Wrong. Further investigation revealed that the ad was posted by gentleman by the name of Mike Bayard, who just so happens to be a Belkin employee at the helm of e-retailer sales. Yipes. Sadly, this probably isn’t the only case of such tomfoolery, but Belkin certainly should not be applauded for their actions. We’ll probably have to wait until Monday for an official response from the company, but in the mean time this is probably a good point at which to re-evaluate Amazon’s ranking system, perhaps only allowing folks that have legitimately purchased the product to provide a review? Just a thought…