I’ve noticed over the last week a couple of stories about consumers having poor experiences with businesses and trying to do something about it.
Digg, one of the new web phenomenoms, had a posting of a situation that was much worse than what I experienced with Home Depot. You can read about the situation with PriceRitePhoto here. The blogger, Thomas Hawke, made the mistake of ordering a camera online after doing just a cursory background check of the Business. It appears that PriceRitePhoto was actively trying to boost its ratings by posting false positive reviews. After ordering Thomas was called and harassed by the business and PriceRitePhoto just took the call way beyond where you would think a legitimate business would go.
What’s interesing is that after it was picked up by the digg folks the business was harassed right back. Finally, the owner offered an apology to Thomas Hawke. This of course isn’t a usual case and the situation hasn’t exactly been fixed. PriceRitePhoto should be put out of business and should possibly face criminal charges, but Businesses are going to start having to look out for these vocal consumers.
The average small business probably has very little linking to them on the web and if a consumer does a search on the businesses’ name and the second link is to a blog posting about the poor purchasing experience something will need to be done. In PriceRitePhoto’s case they tried to threaten the blogger into removing posts. This is of course not legal and the charging of the consumers credit card with $100 fines for posting is definitely illegal. There just isn’t much a company can do about this except take the high road and make good by the consumer.
As I posted previously I think this trend is only going to grow. One of the problems that Thomas Hawke found was that an initial glance at customer reviews revealed a very positive view of the company. As he later found out though, this was not an accurate picture. We still have a long way to go in making these consumer reviews accurate and difficult to control by the business being reviewed. And the more accurate they are the better off and informed the consumer is.
A second case of a blog helping out a consumer was with Jeremy Zawodny’s post about Fedex. Here again the business had not performed as expected, but the outcome was much better. Someone from within Fedex reached out to Jeremy and helped him solve the problem. This little bit of good will goes a long way towards fixing the problem. The only problem here was that it was solved by an individual and it wasn’t the company itself speaking out. If I were in charge of marketing at Fedex I would definitely follow up on this situation.
As an interesting side note, it was Jeremy Zawodny’s blog that introduced me to blogs. I was looking for some articles on Mysql and got hooked on his discussions about fixing his water heater. At the time I was also repairing a water heater and dealing with home warranty issues. His blog brought a lot of the pitfalls of home warranties to my attention, so thanks Jeremy.