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What to do when a Merchant goes "Mental"?


Darrius Gothly
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A friend of mine recently purchased a new product from a well-known merchant. Upon purchase, after carefully reading the included instructions and Wiki pages, they found a few things objectionable about the product. As a result, they wrote a review on SLM pointing out the failures and objections as well as the pluses and benefits. Balanced honest review with an honest 3-star rating. Nuff said, right?

Wrong.

Soon afterward the Merchant sent a profanity laced IM to my friend and then added a snarky "up yours" comment on their review. The Merchant then later added a whiny "now that you've destroyed my product" comment after my friend tried to explain even further the issues and discrepancies.

Pardon me but .. "destroyed my product"? For a 3-star review? There are two other reviews, both 5-stars, that seem more like sycophantic blurbs ... but still they offset the rating my friend gave, bringing it up to 4+ stars.

I've got a few products on SLM that have garnered 1-star reviews. It's usually because the buyer was upset that I didn't make the script inside full-perm so they could steal it and use it in their own products. But still the reviews stand. I've also had reviews posted less than 5-stars that made me realize my description was insufficient or needed tweaking to help make the obvious moreso.

So now my question(s):

1) Merchants: When you get a less-than 5-star review, how has it affected your product sales or behavior? and..

2) Buyers: When you post an honest review and get an offline IM cussing you out, how does it make you feel?

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

1)
Merchants
: When you get a less-than 5-star review, how has it affected your product sales or behavior? and..

2)
Buyers
: When you post an honest review and get an offline IM cussing you out, how does it make you feel?

1) Don't know, don't care, didn't really track it.  Hardly get reviews anyway

2) Don't shop anymore so don't leave reviews.  Problem solved!  I don't recall getting IM's back, usually because i'd be the one starting the fight in the first place :P

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Sassy Romano wrote:

1) Don't know, don't care, didn't really track it.  Hardly get reviews anyway

2) Don't shop anymore so don't leave reviews.  Problem solved!  I don't recall getting IM's back, usually because i'd be the one starting the fight in the first place
:P

Yes, apathy is one approach. Maybe it works for you, but in this case I personally feel the Merchant's response is both overly dramatic and emotionally immature.

I can't "out" the merchant here, but I can on my blog. And I will do so as well. When you have as widespread a customer base as this person does, and you dive into childish histrionics over a simple issue such as this .. you NEED to be called out and made to face the light of public scorn.

We Merchants live and survive on our reputations, our products and our customer service. But when you stop providing quality products, turn your "Customer Service" into personal attacks, and engage in profanity instead of courtesy .. it's time you came off your pedestal.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

 .. it's time you came off your pedestal.

I've had the chance to speak with several other customers of this merchant and come to a decision. In light of the fact that this merchant holds complete control over the livelihoods of so many people, and can at a whim cut off their sole income ... I have decided not to post my blog article.

I won't put their incomes and businesses at risk. Even though I am quite sure this merchant would in a heartbeat destroy their lives, I won't.

'nuff said.

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1) It depends of the "type" of review - if its reasonable and my product has flaws I will try to fix the product, contact the customer to offer a refund and a new product. If the poor review isn't reasonable, like the one I received yesterday, I will try to sustain from leaving a nasty comment, thank them and move on. 

2) I left some "less than 4 star" reviews but never received cussing message from the merchant. If I did, I believe I would either mute them and stop buying their products or try to work it out, depends of what was the issue. It would make me feel irritated for a moment but wouldn't affect me too much. 

 

There are merchants who make a living from their SL sales and they fight for every star, for every customer and every Linden, which is understandable. Its not a game to them and they can't simply walk away and focus on other things. I've seen how "mad" these people can get from dealing with SL customers on a daily basis. Its not nice and not easy. I honestly believe that doing SL customer service can make the person go mad. 

There are also customers who act really weird. They buy products without reading the description then leave bad reviews saying the product is not good - its what happened to me yesterday. I sell poses and one of them is 1L$ pose that makes your avatar lean her head on the hand. In the description I wrote that people might need to edit their shape to get the exact pose on their avatar, this customer complained how pose is not same as in the ad. There isn't much I can do here and it would be stupid to ask for 5 star review, even if I think its not the flaw of the product.

Another customer went into friends shop and somehow managed to find a vendor that was burried below the shop, buy from it and then write really mean notecard to the merchant saying ugly things about ruining their business because the merchant left half-finished vendor below the shop. Another merchant had a situation where the customer went into his shop, bought the wrong applier (he was a guy but bought female applier) and then complained to the merchant that he didn't manage to organize his shop well and because of that he needs to refund that wrong purchase. 

I could go on and on....

Its always two sides of the story, none of us is completely, 100% right and one should go deepeer to understand the issue and deal with it. 

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Tamara Artis wrote:

... I honestly believe that doing SL customer service can make the person go mad. 

Oh trust me, I know exactly what you mean. I've had one or two conversations with ex-customers that verged on the border between "Twilight Zone" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". It's fairly easy to spot people (Merchants and Customers both) that are on the edge of suffering burn-out as they start sniping at people for little to no reason.

But there's another type of "go mad" that some merchants suffer .. the "totally drunk on power" type. This type somehow manages to obtain pretty much a monopoly in a market niche, surrounds themselves with sycophants and "Yes" people .. then starts treating customers with massive disrespect and disdain. I think they call it 'Rock Star Syndrome'. That's what is going on here.

I've "touched the face of madness" a few times in my life as well. Fortunately I have a good wife that kicks my backside and reminds me I'm only human. AND I have good circles of friends around me that also helped me keep focused on the fact that I'm only human and no better than the next person I meet. Keeping perspective of one's own failings and imperfections is IMO absolutely crucial to staying on top.

Otherwise? It's a long long fall from the top ....

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As a merchant and consumer, I don't think everything deserves five stars which should only be reserved for the truly outstanding.  

As a consumer, I think any merchant that wants to cuss someone out for a well rounded review with constructive criticism only as well as mentioning good points, is missing the boat to improve their product. Cussing a customer is only shooting yourself in the foot because customers do talk to other people.

As far as personal reaction if it happened to me, I'd let it roll off my back without getting upset.  However I'd revise my review to warn people about the anger issues.

As a merchant on MP, I wouldn't be upset to get less than 5 stars.  If it offered constructive criticism or pointed out specifics they didn't like, I'll take it to heart. If it were just a personal attack I'd flag it to remove it. 

I think consumers are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.  Those that read reviews can see when a review offers honest specifics they should consider, or not. 

I think that merchants who really care about not getting 5 stars should comment on the review as well as give clear reasons why they think it should get 5 stars.

 

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

<snip>

I think consumers are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.  Those that read reviews can see when a review offers honest specifics they should consider, or not. 

</snip>

 

A problem here is reviews written by people who don't understand how things work in SL being read and believed by people who don't understand how things work in SL. 

@Darius:  I'm really curious about your choice of the word "objectionable" here.  Can you be a litle more specific.  I'm looking at the definition of the word and trying to decipher what is going on. 

 

ob·jec·tion·a·ble
əbˈjekSH(ə)nəb(ə)l/
adjective
adjective: objectionable
  1. arousing distaste or opposition; unpleasant or offensive.
    "I find his theory objectionable in its racist undertones"
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Reviews are not many but I do have some, all kinds of reviews, with a one star, with five stars, and everything in between. Most bad reviews are because the customer either reads in the product description something that is not there or does not read what is there. In such cases I flag the review and it is usually removed by LL in a few days. I never contact customers having written those bad reviews that stay - if that's what they think, let them buy elsewhere. I haven't found that a bad review affects sales. Maybe if there are several of them for the same product it would but I don't have those cases.

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The product was delivered with a highly politicized set of opinions that were hard-coded to be replaced should they be removed or modified. The product specifically reset the displayed texture to show the creator's personal opinions on sensitive subjects and overrode any reasonable attempts to render them invisible. Regardless of one's personal opinion, agree or disagree, a commercial product is not the place to blast out your own personal feelings .. on any subject for any reason.

Both the content of the messages and the product's deliberate programming to enforce their display were .. objectionable.

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Perrie Juran wrote:


Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

<snip>

I think consumers are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.  Those that read reviews can see when a review offers honest specifics they should consider, or not. 

</snip>

 

A problem here is reviews written by people who don't understand how things work in SL being read and believed by people who don't understand how things work in SL. 
  1.  
     

Then they probably can't make sense of most products or descriptions either or they are newbs looking for freebies.  :smileywink:

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

It's fairly easy to spot people (Merchants and Customers both) that are on the edge of suffering burn-out as they start sniping at people for little to no reason.

That's what happened here actually.

For those who hasn't read the review and the comments: it's a quite factual and not even particularly negative review and the seller did go completely mental about it. I'm not sure if there is an excuse for that but I do know a bit of the background and I think there should be room for forgiveness at least. Among other things, I know how far that product was from finishing only a week before it was launched and the seller must have worked 24/7 since then to get it done in time. There are also a few other factors that shouldn't be discussed in an open forum and I'm not at all surprised something like this happened. It's a shame that an innocent buyer/reviewer had to suffer because of it though, she really has my sympathy here and I hope she didn't take it too badly.

It'll pass anyway. It's not as if many people read comments to reviews - at least not once they're getting a bit old. The product has already been updated twice sicne then and although I don't know for sure, I believe and hope the seller did see the points and fix those issues once he calmed down enough to think rationally again.

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I actually do read reviews. I don't read them just for the star rating though. I read them to get a sense of the reviewer's relationship to the product line and the product Creator. I read to determine the reviewer's overall veracity and their depth of understanding. I also read comments posted by others as well as replies from the product Creator.

I've found it fairly easy (in my case anyway) to glean a tremendous amount of understanding from reviews. The vacuous sycophant-planted reviews stand out like laser beams on a moonless night. But so do those posted by people that truly gave it a shot and came up wanting more. When I encounter one that is obviously due to the buyer not reading the description or not understanding what the product was intended to do, those also aid my understanding.

Were this a one-off situation, my response would have been much less harsh. Had this been based on a product with little history or from a newbie merchant, again I would have come away less than concerned. But neither of those applied in this case .. and that's what got my hackles up in such dandy fashion.

Over my years selling products and services in SL I've had the delight to encounter reviews of a very glowing nature. They left me blushing and reaffirmed that I am doing things right. When I have encountered slams, digs, gripes and kvetching, I took the time to look first at my own "face" and try to understand what I could do to improve the product and the customer's satisfaction with my products.

Sometimes I just resign myself to the fact that people don't always intend to help or benefit, they just needed to lash out at someone and I happened to be the Target du Jour. I make it a practice to leave those reviews .. 1-star and all .. right where they are. I trust that future customers will read the review, come to the same conclusion as I, and make a decision based on that conclusion. Other times I have taken even the snarkiest of reviews at their surface value and modified product, listing or both.

I'm not always right. I have learned that lesson (sometimes painfully) over my years. I often tell people that I am but one mind and one perspective. I recognize that my view isn't necessarily the right view. And when it comes to products, my view is more often than not limited by my own myopic vision of what I believe can be done.

It's the Customers that decide what sells and what doesn't. If a product has flaws, even flaws I never thought of or just didn't believe could exist, I always TRY to see the feedback from the point of view that it will help me make things better suited to serving the one person that matters most .. my Customer.

To bottom line it (cuz I'm obviously getting all preachy again) the Creator could have and did eventually realize that the points raised were valid and the product did need to be fixed. But it still remains to be seen if this "lesson" will stick .. or if the pattern of behavior that led to the confrontation continues. It's in the Merchant's hands now, no one else can determine where this goes. I sincerely hope that growth, improvement and a healthy dose of "my stuff really does stink sometimes" are what comes out of the whole series of events.

(soapbox off)

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ChinRey wrote:


It's not as if many people read comments to reviews - at least not once they're getting a bit old. 

I don't believe that is even remotely accurate. It seems that *most people who take the time to check reviews at all, will also check the commentary to said reviews. It might be true that loads of folks don't read reviews, but those that do, do so for a reason. They, usually, want to know about the product and/or see what the seller has to say. I think it can be even more important when it comes to a negative, or seemingly negative, review. 

I know, for me, I check reviews, and I read *all commentary on them. In fact, more often than not, the commentary can hold a lot more weight and contribute to my purchasing, or not purchasing an item, especially commentary from the seller/creator. Even relatively decent products with crappy, or no, commentary from the seller will often discourage me. A merchant that takes the time to not be a douchcanoe is more likely to get my business, at least if I can tell the merchant actually cares. It's not difficult, most of the time, to tell from a review when it is user error versus creator/seller error..or when one, or both parties is/are being over emotional. 

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I agree with everything you said. If I'm in a reap store and am thinking of buying something I've never bought, the first thing I do is pull out my phone and check amazon reviews for that item. And you are right, it's not just about how many stars are there. The dialog can be very telling.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

A friend of mine recently purchased a new product from a well-known merchant. Upon purchase, after carefully reading the included instructions and Wiki pages, they found a few things objectionable about the product. As a result, they wrote a review on SLM pointing out the failures and objections as well as the pluses and benefits. Balanced honest review with an honest 3-star rating. Nuff said, right?

Wrong.

Soon afterward the Merchant sent a profanity laced IM to my friend and then added a snarky "up yours" comment on their review. The Merchant then later added a whiny "now that you've destroyed my product" comment after my friend tried to explain even further the issues and discrepancies.

Pardon me but .. "destroyed my product"? For a 3-star review? There are two other reviews, both 5-stars, that seem more like sycophantic blurbs ... but still they offset the rating my friend gave, bringing it up to 4+ stars.

I've got a few products on SLM that have garnered 1-star reviews. It's usually because the buyer was upset that I didn't make the script inside full-perm so they could steal it and use it in their own products. But still the reviews stand. I've also had reviews posted less than 5-stars that made me realize my description was insufficient or needed tweaking to help make the obvious moreso.

So now my question(s):

1)
Merchants
: When you get a less-than 5-star review, how has it affected your product sales or behavior? and..

2)
Buyers
: When you post an honest review and get an offline IM cussing you out, how does it make you feel?

In a nutshell, I have found that leaving anything less than a 5 star review is just asking for trouble.

I enjoy leaving reviews after trying out the product - and trying to ensure I didnt make a mistake or anything else. This doesn't seem to matter to some, who take the criticism the worst way possible.

Any complaints or issues I have recieved I just deal with - as you have said in later posts - its a chance to see your product and its operation or product description with new eyes, that may not have been apparent on your own.

I can only remember maybe a few merchants who didn't freak out on me for honest reviews - but many simply have too much RL investment in SL and it taints their reaction - too much is on the line for them.

Some merchants will stop at nothing to get your review removed, from in-game harrassment to use of their online blogs to trash you and your own store, or accuse you of being an alt, or any number of other actions and threats.

In general, I have been soured by the review process and don't really trust it to be accurate at all of the end product, because I don't know how many others have removed their reviews that I havent seen. This is why I no longer make any large $$L purchases in SL - its just not worth it.

The SLMP needs to be revamped in general, and a more accurate review system with more options needs to be implemented - as this is neither doing the buyer, seller or prospect any good.

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I have to ask: What is the cause of such over-the-top reactions from Merchants and Customers alike? Is it because they have so much at stake? Or is it more closely related to the tendency of people to just go super-emo in any online exchange?

Open Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine .. whatever online forum or outlet you wish .. and you'll see post after post from people with no real "face" going to the top of their emotional range over the tiniest of things.

Second Life by its very nature is designed to provide a wall between the real person and their avatar. But that alone should make us even more responsible for our words and actions, not less.

We either have to get control of ourselves, bring our level of rhetoric and emotional nuclear warfare down .. or we risk losing all value in our opinions. As you pointed out so clearly, there is the growing tendency to disregard the opinions of others simply because "everything is just emo-bs". (my words)

The only way to fix this? You control yourself. (Not @ you entity0x .. @ everyone) WE control what we post, what we say, what we show to others. If WE don't stop using the ultimate weaponry in every confrontation, before long there will be nothing left but radioactive waste and a world filled with hatred.

(soapbox off)

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