Customer reviews?

Today Laurie Kawakami of the Wall Street Journal wrote a nice article basically describing how various online resellers handle user feedback or have implemented user review systems. The range goes from completely anonymous reviewing to e-mail based posting after purchasing a product on the client side and no moderation to automatic filtering with sometimes high rejection rates on the resellers side.

Since I found the part about interesting I went to check out it’s review form and - as the article stated - required no real registration but only probably a working e-mail address to be able to comment on a product. I didn’t really try it since I’m not into wine but beer but I guess the e-mail is checked using some validation system. If you want quality reviews IMO this is really not the right way to go.

Far better would be a system requiring the user to have actually purchased the product from a site before being able to post a comment about it. This is actually also a problem I see on quite often: People being able to post comments on an article that was’t even released yet. This often results in chit chat about a product and probably also misguides other customers since probably most of them never really check the posting’s timestamp. IIRC Amazon previously even encouraged this behaviour by offering something in return for the first few reviews of a product. After checking the site now I couldn’t find any reference to such a competition, though. Amazon also has IMO some other problems with its reviewing service but this has not really anything to do with this article ;)

But good customer reviews are certainly not a one-side action that only requires a good system. As Alex Grahmann of gearlive in reaction to the original article wrote:

Finally, we as customers need to stick to good-old-fashioned decency when we submit reviews of websites. Why Do Shopping Sites Turn Down Negative Consumer Reviews? by Alex Grahmann

I honestly can’t see these “7hi5 is f*cKiNg 5hi7, because I don’t like it” comments anymore. You don’t see them as often as before anymore but IMO every single one of them is one too much. People should really finally learn, that the internet is not yet another playground where they can do anything, but a social environment with other people sitting on the other end of the pipe. Comments like this simply are a waste of time, bandwidth, storage and atoms.

On the other side the resellers could also put some more efford into the reviewing process. … Yes, I’m currently trying to get back to the original article ;) The article started with describing an incident where reviews by a Peter Brig were simply dumped. It’s nice that he got his money back but things like that simply shouldn’t happen. Such incidents help no one and the least the reseller.

And that’s why I think it’s really great, that there are sites out there for reviewing resellers and comparing prices. Since I bought my laptop online the austrian site is my first address if I’m looking for a specific product. There I get a list of resellers offering it sorted by price and always with quite a lot of reviews attached to it. And this reviewing of the resellers is definitely noticed by the resellers. Lately they even encourage the customers to review their service on which is IMO a great attitude.

I really hope that resellers start to implement decent reviewing systems and users start to think about they hit the submit button :-)