Popular marketplace brand Apeman made a comeback on Amazon with a new name, after falling victim to an apparent purge of brands breaking Amazon’s rules – and went undetected for almost six weeks.
The brand was among multiple sellers that appeared to be suspended from Amazon, having been included in previous investigations by Which? for their links to fake and incentivised review practices.
We tracked the brand and spoke to Amazon to find out more about its reappearance.
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Apeman returns as SuperApeman
Apeman made a subtle name change when it returned to Amazon on 19 July – just days after being removed as a seller.
It made part of its comeback under the title of SuperApeman, though its branded items were also sold under several other names including Ruiss and Yantn EU. This was presumably to avoid detection from Amazon, though they all immediately appeared on a search for ‘Apeman’.
The brand had 21 items for sale, including dash cams and projectors, though it had to start building reviews again from scratch.
It had already amassed up to 37 reviews alongside an average star rating of 4.3 out of five since its return. But this compares to 4,813 reviews and 4.5 rating for one of its products before it was removed. On several of the products Apeman had for sale under its new names, the product listings were identical to those it had published prior to its suspension.
Apeman was successful with this reappearance for some time, but when Which? informed Amazon about its concerns, it took action to remove the listings we shared.
The incident shows the persistence and evolving tactics sellers employ to attempt to fly under the radar of these online platforms.
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Surge of China-based sellers removed from Amazon
Apeman was part of an apparent move from Amazon to suspend numerous China-based sellers from its site in July. Other popular brands such as Aukey, Fairywill, Mpow and Ravpower, met the same fate in recent months.
This followed research conducted by Which? looking into some of Amazon’s bestselling products, which revealed repeated claims from buyers of being offered incentives for positive reviews, often in the form of free gifts, refunds or gift vouchers for a positive review, or shoppers being offered rewards to change a negative review.
Apeman was among 12 brands that showed repeated signs of attempted incentivisation. Four out of the six products we checked had wording indicating shoppers had been encouraged to remove or amend their less than impressive reviews.
Earlier this year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a formal probe into Amazon and Google over concerns neither is doing enough to tackle fake reviews, and to determine whether the two sites have broken consumer law.
Are Apeman products any good?
Which? has reviewed two Apeman dash cams to test their performance in areas such as video quality and ease of use.
Both scored poorly, and the C420 earned a Don’t Buy for its poor footage and usability. The C550A got just one star for its night time video quality.
The Apeman C550A appeared to have made a return to Amazon under the brand name ‘Ruiss’ – having already amassed 10 reviews with a four star rating, though the listing has now been removed.
How did Amazon and Apeman respond?
Amazon removed the listings we found shortly after we reported them, and said that enforcement action had been taken.
It said: ‘In order to protect both customers and sellers, we have selling policies that all sellers agree to and we take swift action against those that violate them, including suspending or removing selling privileges. We take this responsibility seriously, monitor our decision accuracy and maintain a high bar.
‘We work hard to build a great experience for our customers and sellers and take action to protect them from those that threaten their experience in our store.’
Apeman did not respond to our request for comment.