Back in 2005, I wrote a review of Rarissimes 5 86477 2 (link will open new tab to the review on the present website), early and indeed quite rare recordings of rare works by Honegger conducted by his early champion George Tzipine: the oratorios Nicolas de Flue and Les Cris du Monde, alongside the more popular Christmas Cantata, Pacific 231 and Rugby – a most welcome return. The review started something like (I’m translating from the French):
“shame on EMI-France to have let its “Introuvables” collection lapse, for which marketplace sellers are now demanding astronomical prices. Still, the label deserves praise for pursuing its reissue efforts with this new collection of “Rarissimes”, bringing back some of the most valuable “collector’s items” from the early LP era, from its own catalog or from the label Ducretet-Thompson”. Etc.
I was surprised that my review didn’t get posted (in those days, there was stricter and longer screening on Amazon-France than on its US mother company), and I enquired why. Eventually, the response was that it breached the sacro-sanct guidelines and was “libelous”.
“Libelous”??? What was “libelous” about my review??? The statement “Shame on EMI-France”???? Folks, I know about classical music reviewing, but I ALSO know about the subtleties of French libel laws (admittedly stricter than in the US). There was NOTHING even remotely close to libel, even in your maddest dreams.
Anyway, don’t even try and argue with a stupid and illiterate bureaucracy. I made a small change at the top of my review to “it can only be regretted that EMI-France….” and tried to repost. Ah, but that would have been too simple. Because, you see, even though the dunces at Amazon.fr had blocked my review from publication, the “system” (a synonym of “God whose intentions defy the understanding of us minuscule and miserable creatures”) considered it posted and refused what it saw as a second review for the same product. I guess that if I had waited a couple of days or a week the system would eventually have been purged… but why insist? I gave up, and F. you Amazon.fr, let your incompetence and stupidity choke you (it won’t of course, because there’s no justice in this world). I definitively moved to Amazon.com, where I found that it was much easier to post your reviews and the readership was much greater. I was happy there for a decade… but that’s not the story here.
Post-script 4 June 2021. I remember that it was generally an ordeal to get reviews published on Amazon.fr, so the anecdote recounted above wasn’t a cause but just the last straw of my decision to quit posting there. The reviews took ages to appear online and oftentimes, they didn’t, and I came to understand that when they didn’t, one factor was length; not that I broke the length guidelines of Amazon (only later did I realize that you could), but they appeared to block any review that went above half that specified maximul length. I assume that they didn’t even have the time to read and screen and censor such long reviews. Posting on Amazon.com was such a ray of light after that! Reviews kept pending or refused, rather than posted online at the click of “publish”, became the exception rather than the norm. Also, I figured that I’d have way more readership on Amazon.com. Later, I realized that they let you post reviews that were easily 4 times longer than their specified guidelines, which in my case, was great (I often spent more time trimming the review to size than writing it – I musn’t be the only one to be under the delusion that every word I write is essential….). One day I was in such a hurry to post a review that I didn’t take the time to trim it to guideline; of course, it didn’t get posted; so I wrote to Amazon, asking if they could suppress it so that I could repost it duly cut down to size (if not, as with the French Honegger rewiew, though not appearing online, the review was considered by “the system” as published, and I couldn’t post another one); that’s when they replied that the review was online, and I understood that those length limits were an advice, not a barrier. And even when my reviews were longer than that (and indeed, some have been), I found the workaround: continue the review in the comments section. Now, of course, they’ve deleted all the comments, gone, annihilated, which really pisses me – but my decision to quit Amazon.com was taken much earlier.