Hikvision EZVIZ Amazon Scam Revealed

By: Brian Karas, Published on Apr 26, 2017

Hikvision is violating US Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Amazon rules with a "Honest" Review Program scheme that provides gift cards to friends and family of Hikvision and EZVIZ employees to buy cameras and leave 5 star reviews on Amazon.

IPVM has obtained Hikvision documents and has filed complaints with the US FTC and Amazon.

********* ** ********* ** Federal ***** ********** ********** and ****** ***** **** a "******" ****** ******* scheme **** ******** **** cards ** ******* *** family ** ********* *** EZVIZ ********* ** *** cameras *** ***** * star ******* ** ******.

**** *** ******** ********* documents *** *** ***** complaints **** *** ** FTC *** ******.

[***************]

Insider ****** *******

***** *** * ************ **** ** ****** part ** ***** "****** program". *** **** ****** EZVIZ ** ******* *** "******** *** ****** *******" of ******** ** * feedback ********* *** ******* improvement ********.

******* *** ****** **** Reviews

********** ******* ******* ** not *** ** *** ordinary, *** ****** ******* is ********* *** *********. This ** ******* **** Hikvision ** ***** **** their "******* *** ******" review *******. ************ ******* a **** **** ** purchase *** ****** ******* * ******, * $** **** indoor **** ****** (******* to**************).

*****'* ************ ***** ** shown *****:

*** ****** ** *** gift **** ** *** specified ** *** *****, but * ****** ******** with *** ******* **** that *** **** **** is *** $***, *** a ****** **** ***** for ~$**.

Internal ******* - ******** **** **** **** ******* ****

** **** *** *****, and *** ****** ****, EZVIZ ******* ************ ** specify *** **** ** the ******** **** *** friends/family **.

**** ** ******* ********* is ******** ***** ******** manages ** ******** *** largest ****** ** ****** to *********** ** *** program *** ******** ****.

Instructions ****** * **** *******

** *************** **** ** ********* on ******* ** ***** camera *** ******** * review, ***** ********* ********* with * *-**** ******* and ************ ** ***** an "*** ******** ********":

Amazon ****** ****** **********

********** ******* **** ****** a ***** ******* *** Amazon, *** *** ******** has **** ** **** clear (*.*.,*,*) **** *********** ********** or ************ *******. ***** the ************ *******:

  • ********** ******* *** ********/********* the ******** *** * personal *********** **** (*.*.: friends ** ******)
  • ********** ******* ** ******** for ************ (********* **** products)

*********/***** ******* ***** ********, paying ****** *** **** a ***** ************ **** employees ** *** ******* to **** ******* ** Amazon.

FTC ********** / ********

*** **** *** *** paid ************ * ********* of ****** ******, **** are **** * ********* of ********** ***** *********** *********** Guides, ***** ***** **** endorsements ** *************** ** which *** ******** *** been **** ** *** company **** ** ** disclosed.

**** ********* * ********* to *** ***, ****** EZVIZ's ***** ** ********* via ******'* ********* ************* (***** ***** *** Ripoffs / *****, *** FTC *********). ************, **** has ******* * **** of **** ****** *** supporting ************* ** ******.

EZVIZ **** *******

******* *** *** ***** Mini * *** ****. *** ******* **** just *.* *****, **** after ******* ****** *-**** reviews:

Unethical **** *** *********/*****

********* *** ****** ** support ********* *******, ****** Amazon ********, * **** that **** ********* ********** can *** ** * direct ********* ** ****** policies. ********* ***** ***** dishonesty * **** ******* by ****** ********* ** participate ** ********** **** reviews ******* ********* ***** family *******.

********* ***** ** ** a ****-*** ***** *** wants ** ** ********* for **** **** **** selling ******* *** ***** but **** **** ** practice ********** ***** *******.

Comments (39)

Their dishonesty is unsurprising.

But for a company who claims to be doing great, this sure seems like a desperate move. Why waste so much time, money and energy trying to sell onesies and twosies $60 cameras off Amazon? Even if they scam their way to 5 stars, how many can they sell? How much money do they make after factoring in Amazon's cut, the typical 10-20% returns, free 'lifetime technical support', the cost of this scam, etc.?

With the crisis communications hire, the ongoing security issues, the ongoing across the board sales, etc., Hikvision is increasingly signaling a company in bad shape.

From an individual perspective, the earning potential is amazing.  I coached a guy to sell private label products on Amazon, and he's making about $80k a year on weekends.  They being said, he hit a good product, which is rare.  It's a feast or famine kind of thing.

From a corporate perspective, there is no way that this is making an impact on the bottom line. 

I would be suprised to see what Amazon does. Amazon has somewhat of an interest in Ezviz since they sell it as "Shipped and sold by Amazon" which I assume means they buy ezviz wholesale.

On the other hand, Amazon is a stickler about rules, especially against 3rd party sellers. Their are horror stories of 3P sellers getting their selling rights revoked for an assumption Amazon thought they were doing wrong, when in fact they werent. I have a side business selling stuff on Amazon and I have been shut down erroneously a couple of times, luckily I was back up within a day.

This may be a good indicator that Hik should stick to the manufacturing business, not the retail business. Let other sellers sell, since they know the ins and outs of the rules. 

This may be a good indicator that Hik should stick to the manufacturing business, not the retail business. Let other sellers sell, since they know the ins and outs of the rules.

Hikvision Ezviz has a full team of experienced consumer sales people who certainly know these very basic / obvious rules. For example:

  • Rod St. Michel, Sr Director of Sales EZVIZ, previously at Echostar, DLink, Cisco and Sonos
  • Andrew Howard, Director of Sales EZVIZ, previously at DLink, Toshiba and Viewsonic
  • William Elkins, Consumer Sales Manager EZVIZ, previously at Q-See and Sams Club

Who ultimately made the decision to violate FTC guidelines and Amazon rules is unknown to us but Hikvision / Ezviz clearly has people on the team who had to be aware of this.

"Shipped and sold by Amazon" can also just mean that Hik is a Prime seller, which allows you to drop ship your stuff to Amazon by the case, and they handle it from there.  It's a really good program for the sellers, and not horribly expensive.  All you need is a tax ID to get started - it took me about 2 hours from start to printing shipping labels.

"Shipped and sold by Amazon" can also just mean that Hik is a Prime seller, which allows you to drop ship your stuff to Amazon by the case, and they handle it from there.

Shipped and Sold from Amazon would mean Amazon owns the product before they sell it, and are the seller of record, correct?

I think they have to buy it from you, as opposed to FBA.  Is that what you were able to get going in 2 hours?

"shipped and sold by amazon" means that amazon is buying the product from and manufacturer or distributor and reselling it. 

"Sold by ABC Company and fulfilled by Amazon" is what you are alluding to on the FBA thing.

Thing is Amazon the company actually buys hikvision products and resells them. Here is an example.

Here is an example of a dome camera being sold by another seller but being fulfilled by amazon.

 

 

Thing is Amazon the company actually buys hikvision products and resells them. Here is an example.

But on the link you cite, the customer Q&A answers make it clear Hikvision USA has not authorized this. So if Amazon is buying Hikvision products, where are they buying those Hikvision products from?

Is the answer direct from Hikvision? I really dont know as I didnt really sift through them.

We were the first company to sell the 2032 on Amazon FBA a few years ago, their were other sellers of the product but it wasnt FBA and they were selling it for like $220, we listed it for $190. At that time we were buying through another distributor. We sold the fire at out of them. One month we did $90,000 of that sku alone on Amazon. That didnt last long though, we got shut down selling Hik on Amazon as the distributor we were buying from got word from Hikvision that they didnt like that, and that that was no more. I guess too many complaints from ADI. 

Im not sure if Amazon is buying direct from Hik or not, but I just cant imagine Amazon wasting their time with 3P distributors, thats just an educated guess.

At any rate, I normally think as Hikvision as a well organized business and as you know im a big advocate of them, but their whole Amazon and Ebay sales policy is one thing that really bothers me. We, as authorized distributors cannot sale on Ebay or Amazon Hik branded products. Yet these Chinese distributos and the customers of the chinese distributors are and have been getting away with it for a very long time. Here they are breaking the rules, getting rich by flipping tons of hik products, offering no support, and here we are following the rules, not being able to list products on Amazon, offering support, and on top of that, we have to compete with that crap. I still enjoy selling their product, but something has got to give on this eventually. I say a good amends is to either let us sell on Amazon or completely shut down all the Amazon sellers once and for all.

Is the answer direct from Hikvision?

No, that was answers from buyers reporting what Hikvision USA tech support told them when they called in.

That said, your points that Hikvision can control such distribution when they want and are not doing so here makes sense.

We will look into this further for sure.

I don't want to sound like i'm protecting Hik but it starts to sound like you guys have some kind of vendetta against Hikvision... the percentage of negative coverage they get compared to other brands (or other Chinese brands that are no better) is overwhelming and starts to feel there's something personal behind it. 

Dori, do you believe what Hikvision is doing here is ethical? Happy to respond to your claim but would appreciate clarification on this point first.

definitely not, i agree with the article! Just too much focus on Hik and not other brands.

Just too much focus on Hik and not other brands.

Our primary focus is video surveillance and Hikvision is the biggest company and most active in video, so Hikvision will get the most coverage until their size or level of activity declines.

When Avigilon was making their run a few years ago, we had the same kind of complaints. Avigilon has since cooled down (growth, activity, etc.) and so our coverage correspondingly reduced.

I was just about to say, coverage seems proportional to market share. HikVision has disrupted the entire industry and deplaced about 20 other manufacturers in their rise to the top in a few short years. How did they do it? You are looking at it.

If you (or others) have similar information on other brands we will cover that as well. Also, this particular case was not something that we had to spend massive effort uncovering or part of a campaign to dig up dirt on Hikvision, it was brought to our attention by someone familiar with the program.

I personally have no vendetta against Hikvision, but I think that violating FTC and Amazon policies is something worth covering and making the market aware of.

 

...similar information on other brands...

From the vault: New #1 IP Camera On Amazon Due To Bribery?

...similar information on other brands...

And from 5 months ago on another review scam: Top-Ranked Google Search Retailer Tries To Buy Off IPVM

Thank you

Marty, thank you for your feedback. Tell me, what do you think of Hikvision's actions here? Do you approve?

This is kind of funny, I was waiting for you Marty to respond to this article.  For better or worse, you always defend Hikvision.

This article was written by IPVM. IPVM's mission is to attack (many times without basis or fact) HIKVISION simply due to the political infrastructure in the Chinese culture which really amounts to a pimple on and Elephants ass when it comes to quality of the product, support the company offers and reasonable price structure which are all the reasons they are the #1 supplier of Video equipment World-wide and smart Integrator's can see through the IPVM smoke screen and will place orders tomorrow and the next day no matter what IPVM writes about.

Marty, you smear us by saying "(many times without basis or fact)" but you don't address the topic of the post - which is Hikvision's Ezviz Amazon scam.

Are you alleging Hikvision / Ezviz did not do this? Are you claiming that even though they did it, it is no big deal? Please clarify.

Just yesterday you declared:

China is again their country, their way of life, not ours, so who are you to decide this is right or wrong?

Clearly, Hikvision / Ezviz is doing this Amazon scam in 'our' country. Is your position that if Chinese business ethics are 'ok' with this, we should allow them to do this in the USA?

Marty is just reading out of his bible, "The Art of Gaslighting". Marty will never provide a reasoned, logical counterargument because there is not to be had. So in the vacuum of facts and logic, you fill the void with gas. Decide for yourself what kind of gas.

Marty, have you ever installed Hikvision hardware on a US Naval base?

Is there a Chinese equivalent to "Tokyo Rose"?  Manturian Marty, maybe?

...smart Integrator's can see through the IPVM smoke screen and will place orders tomorrow and the next day...

but really smart integrators will know to wait for the inevitable end-of-the-month 25% BLOWOUT BONANZA SALE!!!

I'm just curious if there are any other manufacturers in your opinion that IPVM could write similar articles on?  What other company has had more "backdoors" or hack vulnerabilities?  I think IPVM reports on what is out there and information that goes unnoticed.  IPVM went after other companies (see the Axis vulnerability reports) in the same way.  If there were more, don't you think they would report it in the same fashion?  

IPVM went after other companies (see the Axis vulnerability reports) in the same way. If there were more, don't you think they would report it in the same fashion?

To expand on that, the companies we are most interested in reporting on are the companies that our members have the most interest in - these are companies that are typically large players in video and access control - Axis, Avigilon, Milestone, Genetec, Lenel, Exacq, Sony, Bosch, Panasonic, to name a few (related the 20 in our 'favorability rankings' are more)

There are other companies that our members have little interest in that we do not cover as much, e.g., the FTC sued D-Link, we did not cover it because D-Link rarely comes up amongst our members. If it was any of the 20 mentioned above, it would have been an immediate post.

Any questions or comments on our choices here, feel free to ask.

I think there is too much IPVM focus on Hikvision but on questions regarding tech support issues. Hikvision should pay IPVM since IPVM has become a source for a tech support forum.

Is there any mechanism that compels the gift card user to leave a review?

If not, would it be against any FTC or other guidelines for Hik employees to give free Ezviz gift cards to people who are not family or "close friends"?  

Like everyone in a local homeowners association, or every gas station on Main Street, etc.

If you really believed in a product and wanted to jumpstart the product with hopefully good reviews, would that be ethical?

 

If the reviewer makes it clear upfront that they received free product and/or compensation for writing the review then it would not violate FTC guidelines.

 

So, is there anything stopping me from getting an Amazon gift card and buying something else?

Probably not, but you'd make your Hikvision employee buddy/family member look bad.

I'm curious. I see all the time on amazon where people say they received a product and in return they're to give an "honest review". If this is acceptable why doesn't hik do this? Mailing out a gift card so they can buy it seems like a lot of work. I wonder if they're going for the verified buyer check mark next to the review. 

The whole thing seems really sketchy to me. Not suprising at all. I think this tactic is somewhat common among newer amazon sellers. I buy a lot of workout supplements on amazon and I often see reviews that are obviously fake. Sometimes I wonder if Amazon even cares. They have so many shoppers that 99% will never know they're being scammed. So the question for today is, is amazon ethical enough to do anything about it?

I sell private labeled guitar gear on Amazon.  This kind of stuff is just slimy, even among Amazon sellers, who aren't the most scrupulous bunch.  What a bunch of clowns!

Update: Hikvision has cut the price from $59.99 to $39.99. Please don't try to explain how Hikvision is profiting from selling $39.99 cameras on Amazon, after factoring in Amazon's cut, dealing with 10-20% returns, tech support, etc.

Oh and the fake reviews are coming in, the funniest is this person who has 2 total reviews, both for Ezviz products, claiming that s/he replaced her home security alarm system with this cube camera:

Was there ever any response from the organizations that were contacted about this deceitful evolution?  I believe that it was reported that Amazon and a government agency (FTC perhaps?) were being notified.

We have not heard anything back in response yet.  From speaking with people familiar with how Amazon handles this, I was told Amazon usually does not reply or let you know what action they took.

 

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