Your Review Isn’t Really About The Product? Don’t Whine When It’s Rejected

We often receive complaints from readers who have totally legitimate gripes about shipping or customer service issues at retailers, both online and in real life. Unfortunately, they chose to share these complaints with the world by writing about them in the retailer’s product reviews. The problem with this plan is that companies control which reviews are and aren’t posted. If they don’t post yours, it’s not because they hate free speech: it’s because you didn’t follow the directions.

Private companies aren’t obligated to give consumers free speech zones, anyway. Your original complaint may be legitimate, but refusing to accept an off-topic review isn’t censorship.

Reader M, for example, bought a pair of pants from JC Penney, choosing in-store pickup. It didn’t go very well, so M. left a scathing review on the retailer’s site. A scathing review of the store’s customer service…on the review page for the pants.

In a 225-word review, five words are actually about the pants. Two of those words are “the pants.”

Judge for yourself: here’s the actual review that M. submitted.

Cons: The pants are nothing special and for the everyday price of these you can get better stuff. Store pick up is a disaster.

Review Title: Don’t bother ordering anything for store pickup from JCP.com

I bought these for store pickup prior to leaving on a six day trip. Upon returning I checked the messages for my home phone, I had recieved no messages telling me to pick up this item. I did however, recieve a letter shortly after telling me that since I never picked up my items, they were returned and my account credited. JCP employees apparently can’t be bothered to leave a short phone message.

I absolutely hate the new JCP system for online pickup. They no longer bother to send an email to you to tell you your purchase is in stock. And bonus: If your local store is undergoing the store revamp you will find that they have closed the catalog counter so you will have to wait in line at the front to even get any purchases. This takes MUCH longer since someone has to go all the way to the back to get merchandise which wastes everyone’s time. I had this happen to me with another purchase.

Don’t be fooled by the new marketing initiative. It is the same old lack of leadership, care, and attention that characterized JC Penney with a shiny new logo.

Legitimate complaint? Useful criticism for JCP? Sure. About the pants? No.

“What is very interesting to me is that JCP has final say in whether an online review gets posted or not,” grumbled M. “They of course, declined to post mine since it was not glowing.” That’s possible: the actual reviews for this product are overwhelmingly positive, and the few complaints posted are about fit. Before complaining, though, make sure that you’ve played by the rules.