Monday, February 11, 2013

can you be bought for $5?

How far can one trust consumer reviews? If I'm about to buy a piece of equipment or software, I'll glance through a few. I haven't always found them reliable. Or before we take a trip, I'll look at hotel reviews. I read them more for the between-the-lines info than the actual comments. A complaint that there's no bar in the hotel is good. I can do without the loud music that's played in the bar while I'm trying to sleep four floors up. I don't care if the hotel staff don't speak English. I'd sooner the room is clean. I don't care if the bed is too hard or too soft. If I'm worried about peas under the mattress, I can stay at home and sleep.
I've sometimes wondered if consumer reviews are written by real people--not just friends and family trying to help boost a business. Or marketing people trying to doctor the balance.
Recently R bought a gadget online. It's called an android computer. He expected it to help stream movies from the internet on TV. It does stream the movies. It doesn't stream subtitles. For us, that's a problem because we mostly watch foreign films. There a few other quirky technical problems with how this android computer does not work as advertised.
R, who was annoyed, made a comment on the company's feedback page. He received an email from them offering him $5 to delete his comment and write another.
Here's the email:
I see that you left us a bad feedback for the item you ordered from us. Sorry for the trouble. We would like to offer you a 5CAD partial refund for the issue. Would that resolve the problem? Please let me know if that is acceptable and we will refund you right away. If it is not acceptable, we can find another solution that does work for you.
We strive for positive feedback and all 5 stars DSR, even on sales where feedback was already left. Feedback can be revised if a seller and buyer both agree. If you are willing to change the feedback you left please let me know and we will also send out the feedback revision request through eBay.
We look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Fascinating. And telling. A whole new source of income for some I'll bet. Leaving bad reviews for cash! What a silly practice on the part of the seller. For many reasons.

  2. I hadn't thought of this angle, Carin, but already there have been a lot of hits on my blog with the word search "make money writing reviews". I'm hoping these people are looking for book or movie reviews, though I'm not sure that pays well enough that it's worth the effort. (One cent per ten words?) Is writing fake consumer reports truly a way to make money? Gross.