Most Awkward Consumer Trend of 2008: Feedback Bribery

One of the interesting customer service trends of 2008 has been corporate pandering to customers who leave negative feedback on or company sites. Here’s a look at the past year in bribery!

It all started with, who was willing to give you $5 in credit if you left a 10/10 review (they later claimed it was a typo, and that all reviews, be they good or bad, would receive the $5 credit).

MyGearStore, a seller on, made the first real step into feedback bribery by offering a partial refund if a customer increased his otherwise neutral review of their product. After that, the rest seemed entirely based on negative feedback alone: Camenta Camera, Allen’s Green Beans, and Eforcity all revealed their nefarious bribing souls. And it’s not over yet, folks; at the cusp of the new year, a new (and more prominent) player walks into the world of the feedback bribe: Ritz Camera!

Reader Dan writes:

Several weeks ago, my girlfriend orders a digital frame from on Amazon to give as a Christmas present. The order is completed via Amazon to Ritz Camera. She gets a confirmation from both parties, and assumes everything is ok. A week later, she gets an email from Ritz saying that the frame she ordered is not in stock and would not be shipped. She immediately calls up customer service, explains what happened, and is told that in fact, the frame IS available. The CSR processes another order for the frame and a confirmation email follows shortly. Four days after that interaction, another email stating (surprise!) the frame is unavailable and wont be shipped. She again calls, this time they do say that it is out of stock and even worse, the model is discontinued. She says she wants a comperable frame for a comperable price (side note: frame was $50 and brand name – Kodak). They offer her a $100 off brand frame. Needless to say, she does not order the new frame and leaves the situation upset.

His girlfriend, mad as hell, reviews the order as follows:

“Seller waited more than a week to notify me that the item was not in stock. When I called customer service, they said that the item was in fact available and processed another order. Four days later, the company notified me again that the item was not available and refused to assist with the situation. Customer service was by far the worst I have ever experience. Will never order here again.”

And Ritz’s response:

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for providing an opportunity to be of assistance.

This is with regard to your order number 2229816.

We understand that you are quiet upset as the order was canceled. We just need another chance so that we can reinstate your confidence in us by providing a good customer service and excellent online shopping experience. We believe we will get it from your side.

We request you to remove the negative feedback posted on Amazon and we will be more than happy to offer a $20.00 Gift Certificate to you.

Your attention in this matter would be highly appreciated. We believe that you will contact us at the earliest.

Please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Brenda Jones,
Customer Service,

Aren’t bribes supposed to be hush-hush? All subtlety and perception? I figured they were on the right track with “We believe we will get it from your side” (imagine that being said in a thick European accent by a man wearing a pinstripe suit) but they lose their cool when they spill it out on the table in the next line.

So what can we learn, Consumerists? Well, if one thing is to be sure, it is always to make sure to leave feedback where possible. It could actually end up being pretty lucrative for you! Of course, if it was a really interesting experience, I know of a website who might be interested in hearing about it…

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.