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Do Retailers Often Screen User Reviews? 454

Posted by Soulskill
from the four-and-a-half-stars dept.
Mechanist.tm writes "I recently purchased a NAS from a well-known online computer component shop. I have purchased several items from the website and have never had much trouble before. That was until I realized what I had bought was a terrible NAS. All the reviews on the site from users seemed very good. After a little research, it became clear that the product in question was indeed terrible. After finding the product pretty much useless for its intended purpose, I proceeded to write a review for it on the website to inform other would-be buyers. After about a week, I noticed that the review never made it up there, so I wrote another one just in case. After several attempts to leave a negative review for the product, I realized that the website was screening reviews and only posting the ones that made the products look good. All the reviews on the website are positive; I've only found one at less than 3 out of 5 stars. Is this legal? Ethically speaking, it's wrong, and it's intentionally misleading to the customer. Is there a good place to report behavior like this? How common is this among online retailers who provide user reviews?"
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Do Retailers Often Screen User Reviews?

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  • Their site... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:16AM (#29635093)
    It is their site, they are free to publish what they feel on it. Now what -is- illegal and misleading is if you were to write a negative review and they make it be a positive review. Similar to Engadget and Monster Cable.
    • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:29AM (#29635241) Homepage

      Moral of the story: Don't trust reviews on shop sites unless they also post the negative ones.

      Amazon post all reviews, with the exception of those that use profanity or have links to torrent sites etc. There was a story on /. about it years ago. Apparently it's a major pain the arse for them but it makes the site on of the best places to buy stuff too.

      • Exactly, I'd never trust a retailer or product that only has positive reviews.
        • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:35AM (#29635307)

          AnalPerfume (1356177)

          Just don't write any perfume reviews please...

        • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:41AM (#29635357) Journal

          I would consider it illegal advertising. The site misleads customers to believe they are reading actual user reviews (ALL reviews), which is simply not true. It's misleading and deceptive.

          If I found a site like that, I'd report them to consumeraffairs.org, FTC.gov, and any other site I can think of which screens companies. Hopefully the FTC would act to fine that company, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

          • Re:Their site... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ThatsNotFunny (775189) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:58AM (#29635537)
            Why is this illegal? Why is this any different than a commercial from a movie pulling only the good quotes from Roger Ebert and Gene Shalit? The retailer is under no obligation to publish unfavorable reviews on their own website, whether written by professional reviewers or the public at large. Assuming the company is based in the US, from a First Amendment standpoint, the government cannot force them to publish bad reviews on their own website.
            • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by bit01 (644603) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:16PM (#29635697)

              Why is this illegal?

              Don't know if it's illegal or not but it should be. They are misrepresenting the site as presenting all reviews, not just ones that they approve. That's fraud with material financial consequences.

              Given that Mechanist.tm wasn't aware of this they probably are misrepresenting the reviews.

              If they made clear that the site is not representative of all customer reviews then there should be no legal problem though it's still shady and I for one would be shopping elsewhere.

              ---

              The majority of modern marketing is nothing more than an arms race to get mind share. Everybody loses except the parasitic marketing "industry".

              • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by richmaine (128733) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:43PM (#29635939)

                Thinking that something "should be illegal" is not particularly close to it being illegal. It sounds to you that you are just saying that it is unethical. I agree with that, but the point was that a prior poster said he "considered this to be illegal", and the parent asked why it was illegal.

                Saying it is unethical does not answer that question. You have to actually find a law that says it is illegal.

                Likewise, asaul says that it is illegal because it is misleading. Again, he doesn't cite any law against being misleading.

                Even blatantly lying is not, in general, illegal. There are cases where it is, but those are specific cases; there is no general law against lying. (Mom's law doesn't count here. :-))

                There are laws against false advertising, which are probably the closest things to applicable ones here. But the standards applied to that in practice tend to be awfully lenient. (Heck, as far as I can tell, darn near all advertising attempts to give false impressions in at least some way. Apparently the lawyers don't use the same standards that I do, since I don't see darn near all advertising slapped down.)

                • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Interesting)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:37PM (#29636347)

                  Okay, I don't have a copy of black's law on my shelf:
                      But let's summarize it as:

                  1) It's intentional deception--a reasonable person would expect that a site with reviews would incorporate positive, as well as negative reviews. The removal of negative reviews suggests the absence of them.

                  2) It was deception made for gain--they sold a product that they otherwise may not have sold

                  You've got the definitive elements of fraud there, even though the statutes/definition vary.

                  • Re:Their site... (Score:4, Interesting)

                    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:40PM (#29637425) Homepage

                    In the UK this sort of thing falls under the "traders tort" law.

                    Traders can say things like "cheapest price in the UK!" and it is accepted that this need not be verifiably true. A reasonable person would understand that the claim is basically bollocks and is not supposed to be taken seriously.

                    In the same way it is expected that a reasonable person would not expect a trader to publish negative reviews of their products in their marketing material, be it on the packaging or on their web site. If that makes the OP "unreasonable" then I'd tend to agree with it.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by epine (68316)

                  There are many advertising practices that are either illegal or will get you into immense hot water with the enforcement agency (FDA, FCC, FTC, others). I don't know every law or rule in this field, and I don't wish to. It strikes me that blatantly creating false impressions in the mind of casual consumers violates the spirit of other laws in this field which do exist. It would be nice to find out which law, or if there is no law, to figure why this gap exists in consumer misrepresentation where others d

              • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by scheme (19778) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:44PM (#29636421)

                Why is this illegal?

                Don't know if it's illegal or not but it should be. They are misrepresenting the site as presenting all reviews, not just ones that they approve. That's fraud with material financial consequences.

                Given that Mechanist.tm wasn't aware of this they probably are misrepresenting the reviews.

                If they made clear that the site is not representative of all customer reviews then there should be no legal problem though it's still shady and I for one would be shopping elsewhere.

                ---

                The majority of modern marketing is nothing more than an arms race to get mind share. Everybody loses except the parasitic marketing "industry".

                Do you tell potential employers about every major mistake you've made in previous jobs or about the times you've slacked off or skipped out for one reason or another? If not, then you're not making it clear that your resume, cover letter, and job interviews aren't fully representative of your prior work. And as you said, it's fraud with material consequences. How about stuff that you're trying to sell like a car or a home?

                No one gives all the details about something they're trying to sell regardless of whether it's a piece of electronics, a car, or a home. The phrase caveat emptor has been around for at least 2000 years and probably a lot longer than that. As such, I don't think anyone should trust the reviews on a retailer's site entirely.

                • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by Romancer (19668) <romancer&deathsdoor,com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @05:50PM (#29638423) Journal

                  Do you tell potential employers about every major mistake you've made in previous jobs or about the times you've slacked off or skipped out for one reason or another? If not, then you're not making it clear that your resume, cover letter, and job interviews aren't fully representative of your prior work.

                  Do you think that the interviewers think it is? Do you think that if you read a persons resume that it would be a fair assessment of their past work history and experience?

                  Or would you accept that everybody that submits a resume is obviously biased and reporting on themselves is not a full and complete history. Since they have to include references and contact info for their previous jobs it seems that they are by default not trusted to be a complete and balanced source by themselves. So your example stands as it's own opposition. People do not tell about themselves when trying to impress someone to get a job and everybody knows it and expects no less than embellishment. Hence they ask for outside verification as well.

                  How about stuff that you're trying to sell like a car or a home?

                  If you are trying to sell a car or a home there are third parties that are expected to inspect these objects to ensure your statements are true, it's not expected that you are an expert in all the areas that are important in these cases. You are also judged on your trustworthiness in these cases. It's not the same as if the person was to filter the results of a termite inspection and only report the good parts, or if they altered the carfax report on the car. That's why there are these third party services, because people are not expected to be unbiased in their account of their own worth or the products they are trying to sell.

                  Companies are a different matter.

                  There are quite a few laws in place that people trust are being obeyed. It is illegal to advertise falsely that your product cures a disease or treats an illness.
                  It is illegal to advertise a product of some value and then once the customer is ready to purchase it, switch to selling them an inferior product. (as a practice)
                  There are many other laws about advertising because the business world needs trust to operate. And while it doesn't create the level playing field it means to, it does put into the minds of the populous that they can trust to some extent the claims of retailers. There is a big difference that may not be in the front of their minds though. That there is a big difference between an acknowledged advertisement on TV and a retailers own Website.

                  To advertise on TV or even place banners through Google adds, the retailer must meet certain criteria. Small print, disclaimers, relevant details that go with their claims of a certain product. That's why we all see things like, "results not typical" "your results may vary" and "see retailer for details". These things don't help sales but they are required when advertising a claim. If they claim something without so much as an asterisk and it is not true, they could be in trouble. But here's the problem. If they have a Website that promotes their product and only has the most glowing reviews but does not claim that the reviews are representative or inclusive or even unpaid. It's not a claim that's false. They don't have to say that the reviews are anything, they could be just marketing people typing the company agenda. And we assume they are real reviews since they allow us to submit them as well. There are no laws in this area. they can delete your review and unless they use your name and change the words, it's within the law. It's a problem with what we expect in one area not applying to another. Like copyright and patents, most people don't know where one stops and the other begins. And I think that's the fault of the ones who are in change of the laws. We should learn them, but we should also not be expected to have law degrees to do so. Like anything that effects us all so much, there should be a brief attached that e

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by inviolet (797804)

                  No one gives all the details about something they're trying to sell regardless of whether it's a piece of electronics, a car, or a home. The phrase caveat emptor has been around for at least 2000 years and probably a lot longer than that.

                  I do.

                  Next time you sell your old car, try it. Write down everything you know about it that is wrong or bothersome. Give it to the buyer while he's inspecting the car. You'd be surprised how good it feels to deal honorably.

                  Of course I know that nobody else will give me

            • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by asaul (98023) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:22PM (#29635747)

              Because unless they state they are only publishing positive reviews, it is misleading to show that all feedback from "users" is positive. It is deceptive to filter out the negatives as it misleadingly portrays the product as good based of what is supposedly unbiased user feedback as opposed to vendor advertising.

              For advertising, yes, of course you only show positive reviews, it stands to reason to choose what supports the product (movie etc).

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by obarel (670863)

              100% of customers reported that the product made them look and feel 20 years younger(*).

              (*) percentage is of customers whose reviews were accepted. Results may differ. The company does not accept any responsibility what-so-ever. Terms and conditions apply.

            • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:20PM (#29636193) Journal

              >>>Why is this illegal?

              Because the law says that illegal advertising is a crime. So is advertising a price of, say $9.99, and then ringing it up as 19.99 at the register. (My former employer JCPenney got a huge fine for that.) So is making claims that are deceptive or misleading (see the lawsuits about 100MPG magnets for cars). I surmise that if this NAC company went before a judge, he would say the use of only positive reviews while leading the customer to think he/she is seeing ALL reviews, is deceptive and misleading.

               

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by babyrat (314371)

                of course illegal advertising is a crime - just like illegal theft and illegal murder are crimes.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

              "The retailer is under no obligation to publish unfavorable reviews"

              He should be. Bear in mind, you are talking about a retailer, who presumably has a number of products for sale. If he puts up reviews at all, he should welcome both positive and negative reviews. That puts him in the position of being impartial - something that is always good for business.

              I like reading negative reviews - there have been times that I've read half a dozen positives, and a few negatives, and decided that the product's detr

            • Re:Their site... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:33PM (#29636307)
              Why is this illegal? Why is this any different than a commercial from a movie pulling only the good quotes

              Because you said it yourself, a commercial is a commercial and people know it's a commercial. When it comes to review people assume it's honest non-filtered opinion of consumers. If you pick what to publish or edit passages you're filtering.

      • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:08PM (#29635625)

        Not true here -- Amazon does remove negative reviews if the author requests it.

        Once, I posted a negative review of a book to Amazon.com, pointing out specific places where the book made errors. Within 24 hours, the review had disappeared, and simultaneously a "blog" post appeared on the product page where the author denounced and "rebutted" my review (which was no longer even visible.)

      • Re:Their site... (Score:4, Informative)

        by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:46PM (#29635965)

        Apparently it's a major pain the arse for them but it makes the site on of the best places to buy stuff too.

        Even if I'm not buying there I check to see if the item I want has any reviews. I also do a quick google with "[product_name_model] problem" and see if there are a lot of negative forum posts. I don't think screening posts is illegal, but it's sure not right. I would also contact the BBB about it.

    • Re:Their site... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drooling-dog (189103) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:33AM (#29635289)

      It is their site, they are free to publish what they feel on it.

      Not so sure about that. If they are misrepresenting the nature of their review site, and further misrepresenting what they're selling by censoring reviews, then that would seem to be a form of fraud. What you are suggesting is that fraud is legally OK if done on the property of the party that perpetrates it. IANAL, but this strikes me as an odd notion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fbwhrdpmtajg (1452033)

        They cover that in the TOS that nobody ever reads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        It is their site, they are free to publish what they feel on it.

        Not so sure about that. If they are misrepresenting the nature of their review site, and further misrepresenting what they're selling by censoring reviews, then that would seem to be a form of fraud. What you are suggesting is that fraud is legally OK if done on the property of the party that perpetrates it. IANAL, but this strikes me as an odd notion.

        I'll play a little devil's advocate. Replies indicating that they don't know what that means will be summarily ignored.

        If you want a truthful, unbiased assessment of a company or any of its products and services, that company would be the very worst entity to ask. This applies, of course, to any media or forum directly under the control of that company. If people are naive and have not yet learned this from regular advertisements and TV commercials, it's safe to say that they are not going to learn th

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:16AM (#29635095) Homepage Journal
    Which shop?
    • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:23AM (#29635189) Journal
      I agree. This only stops when you name names and shame the bastards into transparency.
    • by cojsl (694820) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:40AM (#29635353) Homepage
      Newegg did something similar a couple years back (not claiming the OP refers to Newegg, just posting my personal experience with something similar Newegg did). I posted a negative review of an item, shortly thereafter Newegg emailed me asking to resolve my complaint about the item in exchange for removing the negative review. To their credit, Newegg resolved the issue, but the net result was to artificially alter the reviews of the product.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by demonlapin (527802)
        I rather like what Newegg does now - if there is a complaint, and it is resolved, they leave up the bad review but attach the manufacturer's response (usually "send it back, we'll replace it and pay both ways shipping").
      • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:58AM (#29635529)

        I posted a negative review of an item, shortly thereafter Newegg emailed me asking to resolve my complaint about the item in exchange for removing the negative review. To their credit, Newegg resolved the issue, but the net result was to artificially alter the reviews of the product.

        I don't get it; they resolved the issue, so that you had nothing negative to post in the end. Let's say that instead of posting the negative review, you had contacted them of the problem to see if they would resolve it. If they hadn't, you would have posted the review; if they had, you wouldn't have, since there was no problem. The latter is what happened.

        • by causality (777677) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:45PM (#29635957)

          I posted a negative review of an item, shortly thereafter Newegg emailed me asking to resolve my complaint about the item in exchange for removing the negative review. To their credit, Newegg resolved the issue, but the net result was to artificially alter the reviews of the product.

          I don't get it; they resolved the issue, so that you had nothing negative to post in the end. Let's say that instead of posting the negative review, you had contacted them of the problem to see if they would resolve it. If they hadn't, you would have posted the review; if they had, you wouldn't have, since there was no problem. The latter is what happened.

          I like the idea of leaving the negative reviews up and attaching the manufacturer's response. My reasoning is simple: shit happens. At some point there will be problems of some kind. That's a given, and a corporation's attempt to cover up this fact of life to give an illusion of perfect products that don't have even a very small percentage of defects looks pretty damned suspicious to me.

          What's important to me is when a company is willing to stand by their products and take care of its own mistakes. Do they give the customer a certain benefit of doubt, or do they treat complaining customers as though they don't believe a word they say? Do they make you otherwise jump through hoops? Do they admit fault and take responsibility and take reasonable measures to fix any problems they cause? Is it an uphill battle to get them to do the right thing? These are more important to me than how well they can censor their forums. A negative review that shows me a company bending over backwards to make things right isn't negative to me at all.

    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:45AM (#29635387)

      a well-known online computer component shop

      Yea, it is absolutely absurd to have made this post and not identify the seller in question. The poster questions if a seller can get away with this, and them demonstrates that they can by failing to even say who they are or what the bad product is. The whole post is extremely pointless. If the original review was this void of information then maybe there is an alternate reason it was never accepted for listing.

      At least we can see that the Slashdot editors can not be accused of editing, or making informed choices about which stories to post.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:55AM (#29635499)

      The real question is... which shop?

      Apparently this guy's summary had that negative information removed.

    • by Mechanist.tm (1124543) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:44PM (#29635949)

      Which shop?

      overclockers

  • It's fairly common (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikael_j (106439) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:17AM (#29635109)

    Unfortunately a lot of retailers do this, this is one of many very good reasons not to use a retailer. If there are no "1/10 - This --- fucking sucks, it broke after a week and was barely usable before that" reviews then you know they're screening (or just sell great products but that isn't very likely).

    /Mikael

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > Unfortunately a lot of retailers do this, this is one of many very good
      > reasons not to use a retailer.

      No, it's just a reason to assume that everything on a retailer's site is there to sell product. You go there to get price and delivery information and to place an order. You go elsewhere to get disinterested opinions.

      • by mikael_j (106439) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:29AM (#29635239)

        The fact that they manipulate what customer feedback they are willing to show in order to increase sales is enough for me to take my business elsewhere, and there are plenty of trustworthy businesses that don't censor user reviews.

        /Mikael

    • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xpticalNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:31AM (#29635259) Homepage

      I usually look for negative reviews first when considering a product. I will google for "$product sucks". I try and see why people think it sucks. If I don't see any negative reviews, I know that no one is actually buying the product.

  • Never (Score:4, Informative)

    by tukang (1209392) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:19AM (#29635127)
    rely on reviews or testimonials that are posted on the sellers website. Reviews on third-party websites are generally more reliable as there's usually less of a conflict of interest but even those aren't always real so buyer beware.
  • Its no different (Score:2, Insightful)

    by madcat2c (1292296)
    Than a newspaper editor not running political stories about things he or she doesn't like. Not ethical, but also not illegal. That's the reason why I normally look for unpaid third party review sites for hardware or software, or at least someone in the industry that can recommend something they have used personally.
  • Seriously (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rarel (697734) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:19AM (#29635135) Homepage

    After a little research, it became clear that the product in question was indeed terrible.

    That's your first and most important mistake here. Never ever trust a single source, especially if they're the ones getting your moneys. I always check several sites and try to have feedback from actual users before making any tech purchase. That shit's usually expensive enough, if it also blows up in my face two days after I buy I'll be pretty pissed...

    • Re:Seriously (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:44AM (#29635383) Homepage Journal

      I'm going through it with eCost right now. I guess I'll file a BBB claim, because they're not getting back to me as promised. They sold an amp with text that made it look like it did component to HDMI upconversion when it doesn't. Now they don't want to take it as a return. (I know lots of people have problems with eCost, but I've been buying from them for some time with no problems. Have even done a return before.)

  • Who was the retailer? We need to know, so we can avoid them.
  • A comment on Amazon (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:20AM (#29635149) Homepage
    At least with Amazon.com, one of the best-known websites with user reviews, I can attest that they welcome negative reviews. I've been reviewing there for the last nine years, more to focus my own thoughts on what I read, listen to or use than to guide others in purchases. Still, sometimes I've been scathing about a product and encouraged all and sundry not to buy it, and my review continues to be visible as the years go by. Rare situations where a review was not posted usually occurred because I tripped some keyword meant to discourage profanity, and a simple rewrite of the sentence in question was all it took to get the review up.
    • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:39AM (#29635345)
      newegg.com doesn't seem to be biasing their reviews. For any given product, even if it's good you get some people who get one that shows up DOA or has some other manufacturing defect. The interesting thing about newegg is that they allow the manufacturer to write a response to a review. Most of the time it is just the manufacturer stating that the customer who bought the bad item should contact customer service, but it is interesting to read which manufacturers actually respond. EVGA in particular seems to pay close attention to the reviews on newegg (my personal experience, since I bought some EVGA components, I read the reviews even after I bought it to see what people think).
    • Agreed on amazon. I go there for reviews even when I'm going to purchase something locally.
    • ... that the product reviews carried over onto the UK site. I know there are all manner of reasons why this isn't quite possible, but the US site is a indispensable resource for fairly comprehensive, non-BS user reviews.

      It's a shame Amazon doesn't run Consumer Reports-esque mini-sites for popular product lines. Now you've inspired me to contribute more reviews to the UK site!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:26AM (#29635217)

    http://www.resellerratings.com/ [resellerratings.com] - post your honest review there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      http://www.resellerratings.com/ - post your honest review there.

      They have a policy of removing bad reviews - if, get this, there are too many of them.
      They say its to avoid a vendor being 'targetted.' Seems to me that if a vendor does something bad enough to get a mob riled up to complain en masse, they probably deserve what they get.

      They are also vulnerable to astro-turfing. I've witnessed it myself. Tiger Direct, known for being one of the absolute worst places to deal with if anything goes wrong with your order, had a well deserved rating down around 1 or so. It w

  • Come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chysn (898420) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:30AM (#29635251)
    ...when you're trying to expose unethical behavior or deceptive practices, the phrase "a well-known online computer component shop" is hollow and flaccid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      ...when you're trying to expose unethical behavior or deceptive practices, the phrase "a well-known online computer component shop" is hollow and flaccid.

      Nonsense. A well-known online computer component reviewer, a well-known online game reviewer, and THREE well-known world leaders all told me yesterday that it was a GREAT idea!

  • by jestill (656510) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:30AM (#29635255) Journal
    I have had my reviews not published on Overstock when they were negative. I tried multiple times to get the review online, and I quit buying anything from overstock without first finding external reviews. I have never had a review not accepted from Amazon, even when they were negative.
  • I have written many reviews of varying content and rating for a couple products on Overstock.com and whenever the review has a possibility of impacting sales negatively it is never posted. Not ethical but it's their prerogative as they are the ones publishing it. There is a conflict of interest but making this type of thing illegal would be a slippery slope. Just take it as a matter of course and get on with it.

  • Post the site and product, or shut the hell up. Seriously, Isn't what you are doing, deliberately obscuring the site, and hiding useful information, the same as what they are doing. By presenting it the way you have, you've essentially attacked the reputation of all well-known online computer component shops. Could be newegg, NCIX, ZZF, amazon, tigerdirect, buy.com, bestbuy You've provided no specifics, and as such no valid evidence, even in your anecdote. I'm all for tarring and feathering companies *if
  • by curmudgeous (710771) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:39AM (#29635343)

    I've come across sites that seem to post only good reviews (which always makes me suspicious), and sites that choose to sort owner comments by number of "stars" given so that the good comments bubble to the top. It's always best to check product reviews from multiple sources before buying.

  • Aria in the UK have modified a few of my comments. I've written something along the lines of "Nice product, but ..." and the negative part never makes it to the site, making it look like I was nothing but happy with it. I don't buy from them much anymore.
  • buy.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by danpritts (54685) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:42AM (#29635371) Homepage

    I've had this happen at buy.com - i bought this:

    http://www.buy.com/prod/ifrogz-iphone-3g-3gs-luxe-soft-touch-case-red-black/q/loc/101/208441113.html [buy.com]

    and it was a piece of junk, finish ruined after a couple days in my pocket. It broke in pieces after 2 months.

    I posted reviews to buy.com (where i bought it) and they magically never appeared.

    I won't shop there anymore. Amazon rules.

  • Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by benjamindees (441808) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:49AM (#29635429) Homepage

    Home Depot "approves" reviews and failed to post a negative review I gave for an air conditioner recently.

  • The company I work for uses a third party (bazaarvoice) for our reviews so we cannot do such shenanigans. Since we don't just sell one brand we actually want the customer to know which product is the best so that they continue to buy from us. I'm sure this is how all resellers operate so what I suspect actually happened is that the review did make it to the site but the manufacturer probably had someone log in as a bunch of separate users and mark the review as objectionable so that it was taken down.

    As oth

  • Many websites have begun to select and censor comments in order to support their agendas.

    I once tried to post a comment to an obviously biased fox news column and behold it never made it there, despite intelligent presentation and links to the relevant data.

    Welcome to the brave new world of information manipulation and astro-turfing.

  • Sidewiki (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ziggy_az (40281)
    The easy answer to this is http://www.google.com/support/toolbar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=157109 [google.com] Google Sidewiki. *IF* users start using sidewiki for reviewing products on vendor sites, the vendor has no ability to moderate the reviews. Doesn't mean they won't start astroturfing the sidewiki but it would make it more expensive :)
  • quality filter (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:55AM (#29635501)

    Some sites have a default where the most favourable ratings (5/5 etc) are the ones shown by default - a link at the bottom allows viewing all reviews. I can think of one that has no apparent incentive to dupe the viewer, and personally if I was manager of the others I would certainly be more concerned about repeat business, and how costly returns are.

    My assumption is that less favourable reviews tend to be the least accurate, a guess held up by viewing the negative comments which repeatedly complained about issues that were obviously completely unrelated, were laughably unrealistic expectations for the price, the product was not designed for or were addressed in the description. People use the reviews system as a forum to ask questions, giving a zero rating.

    Good reviews meanwhile filled in any blanks in the description (often these would be major issues for some people), noted the build quality etc and gave a personal opinion on the product in the context of price. Personally I found these much more informative.

    No doubt some sites use it just to make sales, but I think there's an element of filtering for quality too.

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:56AM (#29635503)

    According to an article that I read [economist.com], a mix of negative and positive reviews makes the product more attractive than only positive reviews. It seems that this retailer is probably preventing sales by not letting negative reviews through.

  • legal system (Score:5, Interesting)

    by camgirlshide (1649725) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:59AM (#29635543)
    Part of the problem may be the legal system in the US. I once ran a review site where users were allowed to post comments. In one case, I was getting a ton of negative comments posted about one particular other website. I assumed (and still do) that these comments were legitimate due to the sheer volume of different users posting them and I never edited for content. Then, I got a lawsuit for defamation. Yea, I was protected legally and won, but it costs a ton of money to defend yourself against frivolous lawsuits. The best thing for most of these retailers is probably to just not allow user submitted reviews at all which is what I do now.
  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:37PM (#29635877)

    So, on a slightly related note, where DO people go for hardware reviews? In my experience sites that are not obviously corporate/bought are pretty rare on the ground. And the independent sites tend to focus on only bleeding edge gaming hardware.

    So where should I be looking for honest reviews of consumer grade routers or printers or LCDs? Everyday hardware stuff. These days I mostly go by the comments and reviews on NCIX and newegg, but a more focused approach would be nice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dun Malg (230075)
      Amazon or Newegg, simply for sheer volume of reviews. Buy mostly from newegg because of the reasonable return policy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by germansausage (682057)
      In Canada - try NCIX.com. Disclaimer, I don't have any relationship with them other than to buy stuff there. Reviews appear to be mostly unfiltered. You will see 1 star and 2 star reviews, even for popular products.
  • 2 words (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:41PM (#29635925)

    eBay feedback

    They'll nix feedback just like other sites nix reviews, if they determine that in their judgement, they think the item was bought for the sole purpose of entering negative feedback, for example.

    And an expansive, ever increasing list of reasons.

    sellers will no longer be able to leave negative/neutral feedback for buyers [bsalert.com]

    And a comprehensive feedback [ebay.com] removal policy.

    Examples:

    But at least they are honest enough and tell you (somewhat) what they will remove.

    Most people casually browsing the site however (just as most people browsing retailers sites) have no idea that sites provide policies that allow negative ratings to be stricken from the record, and their effects on "stars" and rating score to be removed, at the whim of someone whose interests are in more sales.

  • Never buy 5 Star (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:50PM (#29635981) Homepage
    I never buy a product that doesn't have at least one review panning it. Any decent product that sells a lot of units is going to have a minimum of two or three buyer who, for whatever reason, thought it was crap. Even if their complaint is that it shipped slow, that's something. That generally shows that the retailer isn't round-filing bad reviews. No product is a panacea for everyone, so if you read the 1, 2, and 3 star reviews and find that their complaints wouldn't apply to you, you can probably safely buy it.
  • by rlk (1089) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:08PM (#29636115)

    They appear to allow the manufacturer to rebut negative reviews after the fact, but there are plenty of negative (even highly negative) reviews there

  • by uptheriver (963871) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @01:38PM (#29636357)
    It took several weeks for Crutchfield to publish the review of the item that I bought from them a few months back. I was holding off on reviewing my experience, but they went as far as sending me an e-mail inviting me to post a review, so I did. I bought a new speaker from them which cost several hundred dollars. When it arrived, It was very dusty and it was obvious that it had been taken apart. They sent me a replacement in two days and sent a few apologies, both in e-mail and in snail mail. Regardless, I described my experience and in my review I said "Come on, Crutchfield! You can do better than that! You charge MSRP!!!" Somehow, that phrase was left out of my review. Now, I know that they own the website. This, PERHAPS gives them editorial control. Perhaps. However...if you invite my to review my experience, why not have the guts to post it in its entirety? Maybe you will learn something and maybe your customers will as well. I have not purchased anything from them since.
  • sorry, nas fail (Score:3, Informative)

    by treat (84622) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @05:19PM (#29638201)

    All cheap NAS solutions suck. Sorry.

    If you are not buying a netapp, you need to think about the suck-factor of your NAS solution versus hosting it on a Linux or even Windows server.

    I have never seen a NAS solution - even high end ones - that I consider acceptable, besides the Netapp.

    It is a tough call whether a given high-end NAS solution (betsides netapp) is better that a software RAID on a cheap server.

    I have never seen a super-low-end NAS solution that was acceptable even for MP3s or backups. The hassle of failure and data loss will quickly exceed the cost savings, even if it's just for non-critical storage where data loss is no problem.

    Basically, either go Netapp or set up a Linux server with software RAID. All other solutions are distant third/fourth/fifth.

    In between those two choices, a Solaris server doing software RAID with ZFS is better than Linux's software RAID. NFS server quality is about equal (it is absolutely no longer true that Solaris's NFS server is far better than Linux's).

    If you need redundancy, a pair of Linux machines with heartbeat and DRBD (therefore two copies of the data) will be far cheaper than any sever-based solution that involves redundant servers sharing storage with no single point of failure.

    Sorry, this is just a fact of life. Expensive storage is expensive because you're paying for the manageability, reliability, availability. Cheap storage throws these all away to meet a price point, and ends up making you wish you had just done it on a server.

    What are the problems with cheap storage, especially a NAS? Rather than listing every problem I've ever seen, how about I give you an example of the design apathy. A cheap NAS may have never been tested by the vendor in the case of a failing drive. Pulling a drive out while it's running is too clean of a failure to be considered anything more than a preliminary test (however some cheap storage can't even handle this!). I've even seen higher end storage where this was basically the case.

  • Make it public (Score:3, Informative)

    by gorbachev (512743) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @06:33PM (#29638729) Homepage

    This retailer is seriously screwing its customers by hiding problems in product it sells. I would absolutely avoid shopping with the retailer if I knew who it was.

    Consumerist.com, owned by Consumer Reports, is doing a pretty good job exposing anti-consumer behavior by companies. I would tip them off about this.

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