MyGearStore Bribes Customer To Remove Amazon Feedback

“MyGearStore,” a seller on Amazon, tried to bribe reader Michael into remove less-than-stellar feedback. Michael writes, “There were some problems with the order, and I gave them neutral feedback (which was pretty generous).” They said they would give him a partial refund if he took down his feedback. He complained to Amazon, who didn’t reply except with a “thanks for emailing us” and to MyGearStore, who didn’t respond. One tool consumers use to evaluate the slew of online retailers out there is by looking through feedback left by other customers. If stores are trying to pay off customers to get rid of negative feedback, one, they’re stupid because they’re going to get caught. Two, it means you should be suspicious if the feedback for one store, product, or seller is overwhelmingly positive. Critical reading, it’s a good ability to have. The original bribe note sent by MyGearStore, inside..

From: Tracking Info

Date: Wed, Feb 6, 2008 at 8:02 PM
Subject: Your Amazon Order # [redacted]
To: [redacted]

Dear Valued Customer,

We noticed that you had left neutral feedback. We apologize that you were not happy with your purchase and look forward to resolving this situation. We would like to extend our apologies for this inconvenience, as this was not our intention and we look forward to correcting the problem.

We would like to offer you a partial product refund if the feedback is removed. As soon as the feedback is removed we will issue the refund. Please contact me at tracking_info@mygearstore.com or call 1-800-290-2492, so we can process your removal.

If you’ve left feedback on a Marketplace or Merchant seller and would like to remove it, you can do this through Your Account.

1. Go to http://www.amazon.com/your-account.

2. Find the pull-down menu next to View by Order. Select ORDERS PLACED IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS, and hit the GO button.

3. After you sign in, you’ll find a listing of your recent orders. Select the relevant order and click the VIEW ORDER button.

4. You will find a feedback section 2/3rds of the way down the page. To remove feedback, click on the REMOVE link in the feedback section of the order summary.

5. You may only remove feedback if it is 60 days or less since you left the feedback.

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns. Please feel free to email us at tracking_info@mygearstore.com or call 1-800-290-2492

Best Regards,

Isaac Olson
Customer Service Department
My Gear Store Inc.
1454 E. 33rd St.
Signal Hill, CA 90755
1 (800) 290-2492
tracking_info@mygearstore.com
Please Visit http://www.mygearstore.com

PREVIOUSLY: TheCellShop.net Caught Bribing Customers To Submit “Perfect” Reviews
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. iEddie says:

    Anyone caught doing this should just have their accounts (in the case of Amazon) or site profiles (in the case of ResellerRatings) removed. I certainly don’t agree with how ResellerRatings responded, and not with how Amazon responded either; I can only hope Amazon will make things right.

  2. Clearly a bribe.

    Now, if he just worded it differently, it could have been a whole different story…

    “Blah blah blah, we apologize for your dissatisfaction, and will promptly offer you a (partial) refund. I hope that this will make things right, and if so I would really appreciate if you could remove or edit your feedback to reflect the final outcome of our transaction.”

    Then, promptly refund, and maybe the person will be satisfied with the outcome enough to edit his feedback to reflect it.

    But his letter is clearly a bribe.

    “Once you remove it, I will refund your money” (Buyer not given a choice)

    versus

    “I will refund your money. Can you please remove it?” (Buyer given a choice, so if he removes it, the integrity of the feedback system is preserved, as it reflects his true feelings)

  3. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I find it interesting they only care about your happiness with your order if you leave bad/truthful feedback. Instead of bribing customers, why don’t they just prevent the same problems from occurring again?

  4. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: Cheaper to pay people off to inflate their ratings than to fix systemic problems?

  5. EyeHeartPie says:

    @iEddie:
    If Resellerratings just removed the site profile for TheCellShop, then people would still buy from them. The way they handled it seemed to be the best overall solution.

    However, I do agree that MyGearStore should have their Amazon profile suspended or put on notice or something. This kind of padding of ratings is why so many people avoid eBay.

  6. DrBologna says:

    I’m sure I’ll be in the minority here; but, I’m not sure how big a deal this is. In theory, the feedback is no different than an EECB or a phone call to executive customer service.

    He got crappy service, posted feedback to that effect, and has been contacted by the company with some form of rectification. What’s the problem? Is it because they were blatant in their desire to have the neutral feedback removed? Would it have been as bad if they asked him to leave the neutral feedback but post new positive feedback that they provided a partial refund?

    It seems like an unusual standard here. Don’t we often say good job to a company that steps up when a customer initiates an EECB? Isn’t that kudos on a similar level to removing the “negative feedback” of a Consumerist post?

    I find it unreasonable to expect a company to provide recompense for an issue, knowing that they’ll still forever be branded with neutral or negative feedback. Where is their incentive?

  7. dwarf74 says:

    I’m not seeing much mustache-twirling in this email… It hardly seems very sinister.

    The customer had a problem, posted the problem online, and the company responded to try and make everything better for the customer…

    *shrug*

  8. NotATool says:

    Take the comment down, get the refund, then add the comment back (under a different name)….

  9. MayorBee says:

    Well, it seems I’ve just figured out a way to get products from MyGearStore at a net cheaper price.

  10. Milstar says:

    Huh

    I left negative feedback for a futon I got that was in no way as pictured (metal frame vs pic of wood frame). The seller gave me a full refund of 250ish to remove my feedback. So if I got a full refund plus I got to keep the futon. Does that really count as a purchase?

    To be honest just a small credit would have made me happy but giving me a 250ish futon for free was incredible service at least in my opinion and worthy of the removal of my negative feedback.

  11. macinjosh says:

    @dwarf74: See Dooley‘s comment above.

  12. lightaugust says:

    @DrBologna: I kind of gotta agree here… I mean, isn’t part of the customer interaction how they rectify problems once they happen? Therefore, shouldn’t better feedback follow suit? Agreed, they need to word it less bribe-like and all, but really, aren’t they just improving the experience?

  13. EyeHeartPie says:

    @lightaugust:
    Better feedback should follow rectification of problem. Rectification of problem should not be conditional on removal of bad feedback.

    MyGearStore is making it clear that the only reason they are trying to rectify the problem is because of the negative feedback. If they worded it as “We would like to rectify the problem. If you are satisfied with the resolution, please update your feedback to reflect this.”

  14. mgy says:

    If they just said “we’re sorry you had a bad time – this must have passed under the radar, we messed up this once, blah blah blah, here’s a partial refund” and left it at that, you’re damn sure I’d rerate the seller. It’s all about ‘good faith’ to me – are they trying to make things right, or are they trying to bribe me?

  15. BigElectricCat says:

    Dear MyGearStore –

    I would like to make a counter-offer.

    1) You go blow a dead goat.

    2) I leave my feedback in place.

    3) I share your feeble bribe attempt with the world.

    4) I don’t shop with you any more.

    Sounds like a win-win, don’t you think?

    Love,

    Appalled Customer

  16. iEddie says:

    @EyeHeartPie: They could remove all the reviews and change the ratings to reflect that they’re not recommended.

  17. chartrule says:
  18. Buran says:

    @EyeHeartPie: Exactly.

    I’d just file a chargeback and include the email with documentation to the bank that the merchant refused to make things right.

  19. orielbean says:

    DrBologna, the company takes a risk by selling on Amazon due in part to the ability of users to comment and review the store and that feedback is easily available to someone ready to buy something.

    It adds the web 2.0 grassroots integrity that helps other sites like Woot flourish – you can read what actual customers have to say about the process.

    In addition, Amazon doesn’t allow the sellers to remove neutral/negative feedback because that integrity is part of the service they provide.

    This is nothing like a EECB or Exec Customer Service for the other prospective buyers who would never see the deleted negative/neutral feedback. This is more like astroturfing which sucks.

  20. femmme.fatal says:

    i once bought something and I wasnt happy and [put it in my feedback
    and the company emailed me threatening my accnt and all this jibberish.
    I told amazon and they delt with it internally! They were quite
    displeased

  21. jimconsumer says:

    @EyeHeartPie: Better feedback should follow rectification of problem. Rectification of problem should not be conditional on removal of bad feedback.

    I disagree. Did the customer even give the company an opportunity to fix the problem in the first place? I always make things right for my customers, but I have to know there is a problem first. Once, a guy left me a negative review without ever contacting me. The worst part is I didn’t even do anything wrong – he bought something, but decided he didn’t like the price he paid. Nothing wrong with the product, he just found someone else selling the same product for $10 cheaper (He paid $100 for the item).

    Had he bothered to mention it to me, I would have refunded him the $10. I don’t have a price guarantee and I don’t promise I’ll do anything of the sort, but I’d have done it, anyway, to keep a customer. Instead he tells the public I cheated him out of $10. What the hell? All I did was ship the product at the advertised price, that he willingly paid. He never told me he was unhappy, I had to read it in a public forum.

    He refused to remove the post so I refused to credit him the $10. I also offered him a full refund (regardless of his removing the post) if he wanted to ship it back to me because I DO have a return policy. He refused.

    I think what MyGearStore asked was perfectly fair, especially if the customer left that review without ever contacting them. I don’t see this as a bribe at all, but rather an honorable request. They recognize that he had a problem and they’re going to make it right, but in exchange, they want him to fix the damage he’s done to their reputation. What do you want to bet he never gave them a chance to fix the problems in the first place?

  22. DrBologna says:

    @EyeHeartPie: “MyGearStore is making it clear that the only reason they are trying to rectify the problem is because of the negative feedback. If they worded it as ‘We would like to rectify the problem. If you are satisfied with the resolution, please update your feedback to reflect this.'”

    Umm… no. There is no motivation for them to do this if the feedback remains (or could remain). The fact is, they already fucked up, and they already pissed the guy off. The feedback is there. If they NEVER do anything about it, the feedback is STILL THERE. If they compensate him and he doesn’t remove it, the feedback is STILL THERE. Therefore, without confirmed removal, they have zero incentive to compensate the victim.

    So, of course they will only compensate if the feedback is removed. That’s just common sense. Why would they do it otherwise? To be nice? That doesn’t happen often in business. A wording change may make it seem less like a “bribe” to the OP; but, however you slice it, EVERY customer service rectification is a “bribe.” They are bribing you to buy from them, use their services, not tattle on them, not sue them, whatever. This company is just a little clearer on what it wants from the relationship. I see nothing wrong with that.

    That, of course, is not to suggest that the company shouldn’t be excoriated just for being shitty in the first place.

  23. Parting says:

    One question :once he gets his refund NOTHING can prevent him from leaving feedback again, AND mentioning the bribe.

  24. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    One of the problems here is that Amazon makes it very difficult for resellers to have any rebuttal against incorrect or unfair reviews. As an example, we sell DVDs. Everywhere you look in our advertising, packaging, and online copy we explain these are DVDs. An Amazon customer bought one of our DVDs, never once contacted us, but then gave us the lowest rating because this “DVD won’t play in my car stereo”. She thought it was a CD. In a couple other instances people have left poor reviews that basically said, “This product sucks but I work at Company B and you should buy our product instead.” In another instance we had a problem where someone was selling counterfeit homemade copies of our DVDs and then customers – who had bought these cheap copies – would leave poor ratings because the product looked like garbage. Amazon offers zero, zip, zilch help to edit or delete these ratings. Somehow they think it’s in their best interest to let customers post factually incorrect reviews.

    I even had a customer call and basically blackmail us because he lives in Puerto Rico and the product didn’t arrive in Amazon’s guarantee 2-day U.S. delivery. And when I explained that Puerto Rico takes longer and that Amazon clearly is referring to the 48 contigiuous states he went off on a rant that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. blah blah blah. So then he said if we didn’t refund all his shipping costs he would post a poor review of our product. Again, Amazon offers no recourse.

  25. Oh snap! I bought an iPod Touch case from MyGearStore on Amazon, and it turns out what I received was an iPhone case. A bunch of other reviewers said the same thing.

    Turns out, I contacted the case manufacturer and they told me the iPod case was the exact same thing as the iPhone case, but that MyGearStore shouldn’t be marketing the iPhone case as an iPod case. I wrote my review, which pointed this out, but my review never got posted to the product page! I always thought that was fishy.

  26. trujunglist says:

    I agree with others that it is much better to scour your reviews, look for the negative ones, and offer whatever you’re going to offer. You could theoretically mention something like:
    “OurCrappyStore makes every attempt at giving you the best shopping experience possible. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not always go the way that we plan. Recently, our customer service team noticed that you left a negative review on Amazon.com. First of all, we’d like to apologize for any troubles that you’ve had with OurCrappyStore. Customer service is extremely important to us, so at this time we’d like to extend to you a $10 gift card to let you know that we appreciate your business.”
    This basically baits the customer into feeling guilty for leaving a bad comment, and leaves them thinking about their comment and what the store has attempted to do for them. It doesn’t suggest that the customer revise their comment, because that would be extremely pushy. If you are dedicated to customer service, then you’ll give the gift card and hope that the customer takes action on their own with only subtle prompting to do so.

  27. FightOnTrojans says:

    @Dooley: I would even go a step further and not mention anything about them going back to the website to provide an “update.” I would just say something like: “Thank you for bringing this problem to our attention. As a customer-first organization, we believe that our job is not complete until the customer is satisfied. Please accept our refund [of shipping charges, 10%, whatever] as an apology for the substandard service we provided. We hope that you think of us in for your future [electronic, furniture, music, whatever] needs, and here is a 10% off coupon code for any future purchase.” Let the customer go back and rave about the terrific service. It works for Newegg.

    Now, the only thing I worry about is that some people may try to abuse this and purposely leave neutral or negative comments to get a refund when, in actuality, they received exemplary service and there was nothing wrong.

  28. FightOnTrojans says:

    @trujunglist: That’s what I get for not reading all the way through. You beat me to it. I defer to your greatness.

  29. overbysara says:

    I bought some french language software on amazon once and it was JUNK. it was a bunch of crappy html files on a cd that didn’t load properly! I left negative feedback and was shortly after contacted by the seller saying he would send several different cds he had if I would remove the feedback. I refused and about a week later amazon removed my feedback because he escalated it to them. So… long story short… you can’t trust the feedback on amazon marketplace sellers. I noticed later someone posted bad feedback on the same product, and a couple days later it was gone. So apparently the seller harassed everyone that complained about his awful product.

  30. JaneBadall says:

    @DrBologna: “Therefore, without confirmed removal, they have zero incentive to compensate the victim.”

    Wrong. If a store screws up, they should make it good without expectation of reward.

    @stanfrombrooklyn: God, isn’t that the worst! I recently got an email from a buyer that said basically. “I think your price was too high. Please give me a refund of 50% or I will be forced to consider negative feedback.”

    This email came about one hour after the sale. They were not judging the with the product in hand, they basically just wanted me to mark it down. I canceled the sale and forwarded the email to Amazon, adding my concerns and CCing the buyer. No response from Amazon at all but the buyer sent me an apology.

  31. Triterion says:

    The way te email was formatted makes it seem like a template reply! looks like they’ve used this tactic before. Shame, shame.

  32. TechnoDestructo says:

    @iEddie:
    Don’t remove them, particularly on resellerratings, just put in big bold letters “THIS VENDOR HAS BEEN CAUGHT BRIBING PEOPLE FOR GOOD REVIEWS.”

  33. Anonymous says:

    To the original poster. Go out and sell 100 items on amazon sometime and see what it’s like. Amazon customs generally are very different from ebay customers. For one are large percentage of them DO NOT read the listings before they purchase then blame you when a certain item is missing when the listing specifically stated it did not come with that item. Or blame you when then item is used and it was listed in the used section. Then you have to end up “bribing” them to give them a free item that was never included in the first place, or risk negative feedback. They also are known for leaving negative feedback first then sending a complaint email after, if they send one at all. After having a positive buying experience they leave comments like “no problems” with 3 star feedback, which counts as negative. Of course they probably don’t know that or care. They are known for asking for refunds for stupid reasons. They claim items are missing from their order, and after 3 days of emails and instructions, finally find it and don’t offer any substantial apology. And only about 10-20% of your sales on amazon will result in a feedback of any kind, as opposed to 90%+ sales on ebay which result in feedback. That complete skews the negative percentage amount, and if you fall below certain percentage you get a one time very polite email from amazon stating you are permanently banned from selling on their site – have a nice day. Google this if you don’t believe me. The horror stories of people who’s full time business was selling on amazon just to lose it overnight to a couple of bad customers are everywhere. I “bend over and take it like a man” for my amazon customs ALL THE TIME because I simply have no other choice. It’s either that or risk my business. So before you throw words around like “they should ban this seller” and “bribe” try on our shoes for a mile or two.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Sellers want a 100% positive feedback rating.

    You gave them feedback they didn’t like, so they responded by giving you your money back! They don’t have any other recourse to improve their seller rating.

    If you are unhappy with what you bought, you get it for less money… try that one at walmart.

    Its common practice at amazon to refund money to unhappy buyers. If that makes you happy, you should change your review to reflect that.