The Problem With Online Business Reviews and Feedbacks

In 2001 we began a business that sought to help as many people as possible with commonly defective electronics issues. The issues we found affected cars of all brands and generations, world-wide. The customer base was tremendous and we saw an opportunity on eBay to help as many people as possible. We wanted to go above and beyond for customers because treating people the way we wanted to be treated ourselves seemed like the way to go. Any hour of the day, even on holidays and weekends we made ourselves available to help whoever needed our assistance.


What we discovered over the years astonished us. The more we helped people, the nicer we were to customers, the worse they treated us. The more abusive and demanding and threatening they became. If an email or phone call was received expressing an issue and we responded calmly and tried to be helpful, the customer began to quickly become irritated and angry, metastasizing in threats and baseless accusations. 


In the beginning, a few bad reviews didn't bother us too much, but when we realized how every negative feedback, every bad review would take our feedback rating percentage down a LOT. It would require dozens of positive reviews to counteract the negative ones. Then, to make matters worse, customers who are even remotely dissatisfied use prior bad reviews as justification for their own. And they Never go away! This slander is permanent - the internet is Forever.


It was shocking to see how few happy customers, even ones we spent the most time helping, discounting orders to help them afford and working with, were motivated to leave us Positive Reviews online. However! Those who found ANYTHING wrong at all, were quick to leave a bad review. Usually, out-of-the-blue with no forewarning. 


Maybe it was our naivety or kindness, but we assumed that reaching out to people who left bad reviews would also be kind and reasonable enough to reconsider by removing or changing their negative reviews. NO. Absolutely not! These people were impossible to communicate with, to negotiate with, to resolve issues with. They didn't want to change the review, they WANT the review they left, the love what they did and will not backtrack under any circumstance.


Around the time of this realization, we also discovered that the telephone we set up so we could offer a direct line of communication with customers had Happy / Positive phone calls before 12:00 Noon. After 12:00 Noon is when the strange, angry, demanding, remorseful, problematic, threatening phone calls started coming through. Ending every day in a sour mood weighed on us after awhile and we decided to completely end our phone service.


Customers have this uncanny power over sellers. In a society where the saying goes "The customer is always right!" No, no they aren't. That's a Fact. I cannot tell you how many times we were accused of Item Not Received, but the tracking number proves delivery, or that the Product Delivered Did Not Work, when it actually does, or being accused of delivering an item that is Not As Described, when actually the buyer just did not read - or made an assumption - blaming us / or just wont take accountability for their remorse. 


The bureaucracy of selling on eBay became frustrating, especially when Seller Support refused to remove the bad reviews, even when they were false or baseless or contradictory to buyer's own written statements. We decided to sign up for Amazon, maybe they are different. No! Not at all. They were Worse in their treatment of sellers. It is not uncommon to go on Amazon seller forums and read stories from countless sellers who were destroyed by their buyer's disputes or feedbacks. We then decided to create a website, finally. Strangely, once we got off these eCommerce sites, the problems subsided! Things became fluid and easy and happy. We encountered less issues with customers. Less abuse from buyers. 


Are people Evil we thought? No, not necessarily, but online customers tend to flock to these eCommerce sites because they KNOW, before the transaction even takes place, pre-meditated, that they can do and get away with any bad behavior, forcing a return, force a refund, slander a seller with bad feedback with impunity. They can even do it anonymously under a fictitious user ID. 


What is the reason we are enduring this toxicity? Why are we continuing to put ourselves through this? Well, unfortunately we live in an expensive world and bills need to be paid. If you ask this question to any business owner, they will tell you the same. Even though it is traumatic and frustrating and unhappy seeing this stuff happen to you frequently, you just have to endure it. Human nature will not change, and there are plenty of horrible people in the world, you cannot filter them out pre-transaction.


What needs to be done?


I honestly think Online Reviews need to be either removed entirely, or if this is possible, have broader protections for the person or entity being slandered. Legally or otherwise. They should not be allowed to be left anonymously. The reviews should expire after a certain amount of time. They should be looked at closer for removal. Or, just don't have them at all. I like the idea of completely removing written reviews entirely.


If there are businesses that can relate, we would like to hear from you. Because we really think changes need to be made, and soon.