Reviews are important, and the product needs to be worthy of the reviews you’re seeking. It seems like a given, like it’s not even worth mentioning at first. After all, everyone knows it’s all about the product, right? Otherwise, expecting a hoard of beaming reviews for no reason rings of a strange sense of entitlement.

The problem with the recent online marketing push for businesses to accumulate reviews is that it makes some businesses so review-centric they forget about the most important element in that whole endeavor: the product. If they get negative reviews they try to simply erase or bury them rather than fix the issue or create a product that doesn’t garner negative reviews. And in a recent transaction I encountered a familiar and humorous sense of entitlement from a merchant about an undeserved positive review. Hardly the first time, but this time it seemed like a great demonstration of this erroneous thinking.

An example…

I’ll keep the back story short. In a nutshell I ordered a replacement AC charger for my laptop, and each time I plugged it in a warning message appeared on my screen saying there wasn’t enough power being supplied to charge the battery. The brick specs said it had the same voltage and amperage as the OEM one, but obviously it didn’t after numerous attempts. Plugged the original back in, fine.

I contacted the seller to see what could be done or initiate a refund and heard nothing for two weeks. Since I bought this in Amazon, I contacted them again stating that if I didn’t hear back I’d file an A to Z guarantee claim (basically Amazon steps in to stop the buyer from being shafted). Magically I got a reply that was unapologetic and did not address the issue with the charger or offer any solutions. It was basically a “send it back and we’ll give you a refund within 2 business days. The end.”

So as you might expect I gave the product a low rating.

After all, it didn’t work as advertised, and if it was a dud it was a totally missed opportunity from the seller to offer me another one and keep me using their product. The return process was cold and slow, so any chance of me walking away with anything but a bad taste in my mouth disappeared. No chance of me saying “Well the product didn’t work but at least they were cool about it.” I would’ve been less inclined to leave a negative review at all.

Get this.

I got an email shortly thereafter from the seller asking if I would rescind my review. Was it apologetic or did they offer me something to make it right? No. The reason he gave was essentially “This product doesn’t have many reviews so your negative one really stands out like a sore thumb, and will affect sales.” For real? Not even an acknowledgement of the problem other than how my experience is inconvenient for you?

Maybe it’s old-fashioned of me, guy, but where I come from good reviews come from…good products. And a good customer experience. Ya know, that’s why so many companies pride themselves on customer service — it’s sort of important.

The bottom line is that if it’s a new product that doesn’t have many reviews you should be doing everything you can to ensure the first reviews you get are positive. And when something goes wrong and you have a chance to save the account, don’t act shocked when your refusal to do anything about it until forced doesn’t create any goodwill. This insinuation that I should care about his business despite my experience and basically lie to the public for the sake of his sales — of a questionable product no less — is laughable.

Jury-rigged reviews are as scummy as black hat SEO; both pollute the internet with garbage and undermine otherwise very useful systems.

I got this image in my mind of him saying “But my marketing guy said I needed five star reviews! People should help me get them because…I need them!” And in my mind, he was twitching as if short-circuiting while he said it.