Online Criticism Isn't Just Easy, It Sticks Around Too

from the they-ruined-my-pants dept

We’ve noted before how some business owners feel extremely threatened by criticism on the web. The idea that anybody can become a critic and have a platform to broadcast their opinion is a scary one for businesses that don’t treat their customers well. But there’s another related issue here: web criticism sticks around. One blogger has noted that a post he made about how he was frustrated with his bank continues to attract comments from other annoyed customers. It’s much like our post on Amazon Prime from February 2005, which thanks to the magic of search engines, continues to attract new comments every day from people upset with the way Amazon bills for the program (with some of them blaming us for it). His point is that not only does news travel quickly online, it sticks around — just ask the maker of Kryptonite bike locks. Perhaps this is part of the reason some businesses freak out so badly when they’re criticized online, and will fuel further calls from some quarters to moderate or censor user-generated business reviews and comments. But that’s not a solution; the best way to deal with it is to treat your customers well.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Online Criticism Isn't Just Easy, It Sticks Around Too”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Awesome!!!.........Not!!!

“Has their services improved? No”

That’s because of their monopoly power to lock you in. How ridiculous it is, that you can’t buy the cell phone of your choice and sign up for any telco you want!

Why should they give a rats patooty?

If politicians weren’t bought so cheaply, we might still have a country.

Mike4 says:

You can't please everybody

It really doesn’t matter what the product is. It doesn’t matter who the company is. Somewhere, someone is pissed off for some reason. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how well you treat the customer. There are certain people in this world who will always be disappointed and those people are almost guaranteed to tell people – either online or in person – about their “bad experience.”

Eventually, everyone will be criticized online. We just have to understand to read the criticism and take it with a grain of salt. If enough people are giving horrible reviews, though, there may be something there.

Haywood says:

Re: You can't please everybody

Still when you annoy someone so badly they take the time to post it all over the internet, there is something to it. I will grant you that some people are just waiting for any excuse to complain. I know in my case, the company proclaimed innocence because they were within their company policy, which doesn’t mean a damn thing to the injured party. Specifically they shipped the wrong item which I refused, then claimed to be out of stock despite having 7 advertised on line. It took 3 months to get the item, well past my project date, and then only after complaining to the BBB and the FTC.

FreshDailyGadget (user link) says:

Pleasing everyone?

I agree, there is such a wide variety of people and attitudes, that someone somewhere is going to be unhappy with the way a company does business. One verbal unhappy customer (online, offline, where ever) leaves a much larger mark than one hundred quiet satisfied customers. But, there’s always going to be that one person, no matter what you do. In my opinion one of the essences of business is doing everything you can to make sure the number of unhappy customers is as low as possible. Customer service isn’t about pleasing everyone (which will never happen), but making as large a percent of your customers as satisfied as possible. (FreshDailyGadget)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pleasing everyone?

“One verbal unhappy customer (online, offline, where ever) leaves a much larger mark than one hundred quiet satisfied customers”

Maybe, but the truth is lots of people write very good reviews too. I never buy anything online without doing research first and as such I have never had a problem ordering online. When you read reviews you will always get some unsatisfied customers, and often they have reason to be. But they are almost always countered with more positive reviews if the company is actually decent.

I just don’t agree with the claim that only dissatisfied people post reviews, it’s just isn’t true at all.

Vera (user link) says:

it's all about respect

Treating your customers well is a topic that I’d like to see a lot more time spent on. Personally I believe that the heart of it is treating your customers with respect. Flattery and schmoozing and attention and giveaways are among the things that many companies authorize the marketing and pr departments to do, and those things are all very nice, but if the rest of the company, including legal and the product dev people, couldn’t give a flying you-know-what about the customers then the other stuff is ultimately meaningless.


Sanguine Dream says:

It’s impossible to please all customers but perhaps if businesses actually put as much effort into pleasing customer as they did into making money they would be better off. But no they would rather treat people badly and then cry foul when someone gives them a bad review. Or hire people to create buzz about their business. Or sue poeople that don’t give them 5 star ratings.

Anonymous Coward says:

What is needed is a way to flag web content from within the content as “expired” after a certain date. This would allow items that want to remain around a long time to remain while allowing for other content to be removed when they’re no longer relevant.

Yes, the pages would probably still be available through other archive resources but it would allow the search engines to remove them from their return lists, which is how most of the old references are being kept alive.

It allows for pages to “disappear” but not through regulation and forced removal.

Slavito (user link) says:

More opportunities to manipulate search results?

Yes, which is exactly why these “freaked out” businesses hire search engine consultants whose job it is to overwhelm negative comments with higher-ranking positive comments. Supposedly, a booming industry.

A larger point is missed though: the anonymity of comments. Who says people trashing a particular business aren’t simply their competitors? And likewise, can’t those praising service/products be compensated by the businesses themselves?

I think a wise move by anybody researching a particular business would be to simply declare any forum/blog comment worthless (yep, I realize that would apply to my comment as well:) and only seriously consider brand-name blog posts whose owners don’t hide their identities behind anonymous aliases.

John McAllister (user link) says:

Criticism certainly hangs around.

In 2000, I published a series of articles on my website concerning a very dangerous building site and the failure of the developer to make it safe. By the end of the year, I had removed the story but it remained on my host’s server.

Two years later, the property developer had the nerve (and stupidity) to threaten me with an action for libel.

I seemed that the search engines had maintained their references to the pages (or the developer didn’t want to make a fuss while the buildings were still standing).

In this case, the property developer was badly bitten… he didn’t take into account the fact that web publishers have the perfect means to riposte!!

Check out the site at if you want to laugh… yes, I did register HIS name as a domain, and published his lawyer’s letters and republished the articles and promoted them to the top of Google.

There is a postscript. After two years, I allowed the domain registration to lapse, then… the developer abused me in the street, calling me names (how satisfying!). I re-registered the domain… righteous revenge is so sweet… for web producers!

Cosmo Valente says:

Chrysler Extended Warranty rip off

I have an extended warranty with Chrysler with my 2003 Dodge Intrepid. It expires on Sep 2008 or 100,000 whichever comes first. However, I am with the US Army, stationed in Korea. I brought my car over here. I have an airconditioner problem. I tried to get my air conditioner fixed with my extended warranty and I am told by Chrysler that the contract is invalid overseas. Fine, the lady on the phone at customer service was so annoyed with me, acting like I was a moron and talking down to me and cutting me off from talking. Fine, I will never, neither will anyone in my family, and hopefully some more people who read this — I WILL NEVER AGAIN BUY A CHRYSLER PRODUCT.

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