The Online World Of Negative Product Reviews

spyI got bought, and I bet you’ve been bought at some point or another, too…right there in the online product reviews of  I don’t feel good about it, I actually am upset that I caved.

Let me share:

1. Kidlet wanted a new iPod case; none of them were available or appealing at Best Buy.

2. In a search on Amazon for “iPod cases” this Harry Potter SkinIt brand “case” appeared.

3. We bought as it was the most reasonable price; it arrived and to my chagrin and lament, it was a sticker.

4. Then I felt dumb; ah-hah, the “SkinIt” brand was all about skins as stickers and not skins as gel cases or what not. How was I to know? A mom trying to appease a pre-teen with what she wants with nary a look at the fine print.

5. We went to Target and found a white case; kidlet trimmed the SkinIt to fit and now she’s happy. But, Mom wasn’t.

Write A Product Review

When the request came to write a product review (it caught me at the right moment as I had ignored the request many times previously), it was the right moment. I gave it 2.5 stars and said that maybe I was a dumb mom for not knowing SkinIt meant sticker.

Wait several days and here comes the product team for SkinIt. “We have refunded the prices of your purchase, will you please now alter your product review to something more positive? After all, the fine print says explicitly that this is not a case at all, blah, blah. Here are the steps you take to change your review to a positive one.”

A Range of Emotions

From the “I got bought” trashy feeling to the “really? Are you kidding me?” and the “I’m so pissed off” emotions, I ranted and raved internally and was none too happy with this chain of events.

Options were to:

1. Oblige them with a new glowing review.

2. Do nothing.

3. Delete the comment totally.

4. Rant and rave in the comments section for all the world to see.

5. Write a blog post on the experience.

Before I share my decision, let me share one of my peer’s blog posts with you; it was so timely it was uncanny.

Mark Schaefer’s Dongle Blog Post

Mark Schaefer, blogger at {grow}, shares a scary post about the world in which we now live policed by onlookers and bystanders (no longer innocent) looking for an instant of fame (in this case negative) to influence the what-used-to-be-jokester mentality of peeps having fun in and amongst themselves.

In a gist, two guys yak together about the “big dongle;” the girl in front of them snaps a photo of them, posts it to Twitter with an “I’m offended” comment and what ensues is where nightmares are written. I want you to read Mark’s post to get all the gory details, and how this is relevant to me is the following:

1. Your fellow man is no longer trustworthy.

2. The online world is scarey and full of those wanting to take advantage.

3. Employers are caving to the online pressure of negativity by a few who have taken advantage.

4. Innocent people (who joked amongst themselves) are losing jobs as a result and fighting back via cyber attack.

5. And, me? I wrote a negative online product review because it was true and was bombarded with the appeal of a refund and strong request to alter the truth.

What did I do? Number 3 and number 5.

By Jayme Soulati

You might like Mark Schaefer’s latest book, Born To Blog:

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I actually read about the Dongle story in USA Today before I caught it on Mark's blog. I've made jokes about it before - you're in a room w/ smartphones, sure as hell better think about what you do and say b/c you never know who's quoting you. I've got mixed thoughts on the whole thing but in a small way, it ties a little into what I'm posting tomorrow - the assumptions we make. Just b/c I make one off-color remark, that means I'm no longer follow-worthy or have been 'influenced' in some way? WTH? One tweet, one bad joke really? Is that really the end of a career, a brand?Depends on what it is I suppose but often I think overreaction seems to be the rule of the day - w/ the media then piling on for ratings.

As to the review - you could always change what you wrote: "Good sticker, bad case - what I get for not reading the fine print. But they want a better review so here goes: if you think their stuff sucks, tell them and get your money back." :) IDK It's tough and while I don't care for the psychobabble blackmail (h/t @New England Multimedia ) I do like the fact they listen, they try for service. Plenty of places still do the 'duck and cover' or 'delete and ignore' - this is at least a step towards engagement? FWIW.


Wow. Jayme, now what? I mean, now what do we do? I am so troubled, by @MarkWSchaefer 's post and your own.. I have to think on this, hard. Today I am going out with the Alaska Chick-let on her first real Adventure. I can promise this will be circling in my mind as I ride, imagining what we, the people, are going to do to reign in and put a stop to the direction that some are trying to herd us at.

I will not be caged by fear.

That is all for now.

New England Multimedia
New England Multimedia

Using psychology to make the buyer feel guilty if he or she doesn't write a positive review or change a negative one smacks of the kind of manipulation that turns me off to a brand immediately, Jayme. It's encouraging dishonesty in return for a dollar, and that's my exit door. I hope your post gets shared like crazy so brands will know we think this is wrong!

I read @MarkWSchaefer 's article yesterday and clicked through the links to get the whole story. I was so troubled by all the implications for our world, I couldn't shake the sense of foreboding. We're becoming a vindictive, graceless, unforgiving world filled with people who think their opinions are right, and if you disagree, they'll punish you and take you down by whatever means they can. I know many, many people who are afraid to speak up even in the face of injustice because they fear the repercussions. When fear rules over us, we can say good-bye to truth and freedom. 


The thing is that your experience would have been TOTALLY different if they apologized for the misinformation and then asked you for ways they could improve the product description. They refunded your money, which was the right start, but they shouldn't have asked you to change your review. If they did the right things, you might have done that anyway without the prompt. Too bad!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@3HatsComm @New England Multimedia I could've handled that so differently. I don't know whether I think the engagement factor is genuine. They paid me to reverse my truthful experience; I even made fun of myself as a "dumb mom." No matter. I gave 2 stars; they want 5. I wonder if I gave 5 stars and still blasted them if they would've still refunded my money.

You got this down pat; I should've come seeking counsel!@3HatsComm @New England Multimedia @3HatsComm @New England Multimedia

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@AlaskaChickBlog @MarkWSchaefer "I will not be caged by fear." Well said; exactly. But, look what I did? I caved. Did you ever think I would back away from such a challenge. I should've rubbed it in their faces and called them bullies; I didn't. Why?

I did not want the hassle; I didn't want the chance for a cyber attack on my website or spam on my blog. I don't have the $$ or time to manage that. It upsets me when I think that I allowed this. My deleting my comment totally, they didn't win all the way. 

Go on your adventure; think on this and come back. I don't know; troublesome

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@New England Multimedia  @MarkWSchaefer So well said, Michelle. I feel like there is an underground spy network of whistleblowers ready to take away someone's reputation for a single human error. I feel badly for the kids up and coming; this is the world they'll be raised in. Fear, mistrust and senseless injustice. 

You can bet I won't ever buy from SkinIt again.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@lauraclick Because they automatically refunded the money, that was where the guilt trip started. And, I didn't want to change my review, but now I didn't pay for it. Darn it. 

Agree. Some sort of engagement to start would've been grand; but, maybe they think the quickest way to tick an item off the list is to push money in their face. Thanks, Laura.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Agree, Josh.  And, that dongle thing? Not sure how true that is, but Mark would not have taken real estate to write it up if there wasn't some semblance of truth to it? 

All this stuff is making me barf.