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Thread: Negative revews: vendor responses

  1. #1
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Negative revews: vendor responses

    We are having a discussion in another thread about how business owners should respond to negative reviews. I've started this new thread because it deals with a slightly different aspects of the subject.

    Yesterday, I posted a review on Amazon. The review made some positive and some negative points about a product I had just bought. But its main theme was that the product had a serious design flaw that I wanted potential buyers to be aware of. I gave the product three stars (out of five), which was lower than any of the previous reviews on the site (none of which mentioned the design flaw).

    This morning, I received an email from the product's manufacturers. Essentially, it acknowledged the design flaw, but explained in detail the reasons for it, and stated that there was nothing they could do about it. The email ended with these words:

    Would it be possible for you to revise the negative review for us? Your support means a lot to us. Hope you can understand. Thanks! Waiting for your reply.
    What should I do?

    Should I agree to their request? Should I ignore it? Or should I write back to say ... what?

    Mike

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Of course you can revise your negative review - just as soon as they fix the fault you were critical of and enable you to try the new improved version. They surely couldn't be asking you to lie on their behalf.

    Is it a big company, a notorious money-grabbing company, or a little business struggling to stay alive? That may influence how tough you are in dealing with them.

    What do they mean, "There's nothing they can do". There must be something they could do, such as being honest about the flaw instead of trying to hide it, or perhaps giving their customers something to make up for their disappointment. Another thing - is the product fit for the purpose or not really. What statutory rights would any purchasers have?

    How does Amazon respond to reviewers being leaned on (albeit gently) to change their honest reviews?
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    Mikl (20 August 2014)

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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    I think it's good they are reading the reviews and acting on them. But I agree with Kay, acknowledging the problem isn't the same as addressing and/or fixing the problem. If the review honestly called attention to a defect in the product, that they aren't addressing, well, that is what reviews are for. I would write back and say you'd be happy to revise the review as soon as they fix the problem. If there is "nothing they can do" then I would echo those words back to them. Without fixing the problem, there is nothing you can do either. Fair is fair.

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    Mikl (20 August 2014)

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    On the other hand, "revis[ing] the negative review" doesn't necessarily mean giving more stars or removing your objection. If appropriate, you might decide to simply modify your discussion of the design defect to incorporate a mention of the company's explanation. However, if their explanation does not reflect your overall view of the product, I would hope you would not rate the product higher simply because the company gave a reasonable explanation of why the defect exists. If some buyers would be disappointed with the purchase due to the defect, it is appropriate that they be given the information to make that decision on their own.

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    Mikl (20 August 2014)

  8. #5
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Excellent replies. Thank you all.

    I have now replied to the vendor. Here is a precis of what I wrote. (The phrases in square brackets represent a summary of my actual words. This is not because I don't want you to see the whole thing, but simply to remove details that are not relevant to this post.)

    Dear xxx,

    I have thought carefully about your request to change my review.

    Having re-read the review, I feel that it is right that potential customers should be aware of the problem I described. My review acknowledged that [the problem is beyond your control]. But from the customer's point of view, the problem still exists, regardless of whose fault it is.

    In view of that, I don't see any way in which I can edit the review. I'm sure you wouldn't expect me to hide the fact that [the problem exists]. The fact is that some buyers might be disappointed with their purchase because of this issue, and it's appropriate that they be given the information to make that decision on their own.

    Of course, if you are ever able to design [the product in such a way that the problem no longer exists], I would be happy give it the favourable review it deserves.

    I hope you will appreciate my reasons for not wanting to edit my existing review. I did mention in the review that, apart from this one issue, I would be happy to recommend the product. And keep in mind too that you can always post a comment against the review setting out your point of view.
    I'll let you know if I get any response.

    By the way, Dsieg made a good point when he said that at least the company is reading and acting on the reviews.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mikl; 20 August 2014 at 3:44 am. Reason: Minor formatting issue in the quoted text

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    I agree with your response Mike, you handled that well. The only thing I'd suggest would be that you could add their response to your review. From what you said, it doesn't sound like their response changed what you pointed out in your review, but it did explain it. That explanation may make a difference for potential buyers of the product (it may not as well, I don't know the details), and while I wouldn't change the review either I might consider editing it to include the response from the vendor/manufacturer.

  11. #7
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    For what it's worth, I've just had this reply from the vendor:

    We understand your consideration and we see that you wrote your review by your own experience. But could you please add one or two stars to raise the star level since the product has no quality problem? Amazon identify a review with three stars as a negative one. Hope you understand how important it is to us. We would really appreciate your support. Thanks!
    I certainly have no intention of raising the number of stars just because "Amazon identify a review with three stars as a negative one." (In any case, I'm not sure what that means.)

    I'm now trying to decide how to reply, or whether I should just ignore it.

    By the way, there are 25 other reviews of the product on Amazon. All of them are 4- or 5-star, and none of them mentions the fault that I highlighted. It's interesting that the vendor is putting so much effort into changing this one 3-star review.

    Mike

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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    By the way, there are 25 other reviews of the product on Amazon. All of them are 4- or 5-star, and none of them mentions the fault that I highlighted.
    With that many reviews, all 4-5 stars, none of them mentioning the problem, and the vendor that concerned, this no longer smells right. In the real world, you simply don't get that many reviews on a product with a flaw with no one mentioning it. Even a perfect product will have negative reviews from people who don't know how to use it, or screwing it up. Him asking you to give a 4-5 star review after you clearly expressed no interest in doing so, also reeks and is against Amazon TOS. He has crossed the line and is now "shilling" for positive reviews. Him asking you to change your 'opinion' is one thing, asking you to give fake 4-5 star review is altogether something different.

    My opinion only.

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    Mikl (21 August 2014)

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    I agree, David. I read a book that had more than a couple of dozen five star reviews. The book was awful in many ways. I gave it a one star review. My one star review stood out as though I was just some bitter and twisted old hag who was having a bad day. But what can you do? All the other reviewers IMO must have had a vested interest (probably friendship and nothing more sinister) in giving it a high rating.

    Anyone who places any reliance on Amazon reviews these days is badly misguided. Amazon works like a search engine so, naturally, people (ie sellers) try to game the search engine's algos.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

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  16. #10
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    A very good point, David. I strongly suspect you are right.

    Another possibility is that some of the 4- and 5-star reviews started life as 3-stars; the vendor put the same pressure on the reviewers that they did on me; and the reviewers caved into the pressure (or, to put it more kindly, allowed themselves to see the vendor's point of view) and upgraded their rating.

    It didn't occur to me that this might be against Amazon's TOS. But that might well be the case. (Unfortunately, I wouldn't know how to go about checking that.)

    I still haven't decided if I'll reply. For now, I'll let it stew for a while.

    Mike

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