What happens when a company is caught paying for false reviews of their own products? Following the expected community backlash and the scramble for response, there's not a whole lot a company can do to get attention off such a pseudo-scandal. Recently, it was discovered that Belkin, or at least a Belkin employee, was using Amazon's and Newegg's product review systems to their advantage, by paying money for false reviews. After they were more or less exposed, the company posted an official response to the situation, which amounted to a short apology followed by a list of actions the company was taking to remedy the situation.

On top of assuring everyone that it was an “isolated” incident, the company is working to pull all reviews compromised in such a manner. Whether or not that applies to the negative feedback those paid reviewers were expected to give to other, non-positive reviewers isn't mentioned, but you can imagine that it doesn't.

It's easy to criticize Belkin for the situation, and indeed a company soliciting reviews from people who haven't even used the product seems scandalous. Truly, though, it's not much different from what you see in mainstream advertising on a daily basis. In those contexts, however, most people are aware of the fact they are being sold something, whereas with user-generated reviews, people are often looking for honest feedback from a regular person like themselves who uses the product. At the very least, the company has apologized.