Monday, July 2, 2007

The Truth Hurts

This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with today's post except to provide visual pleasantry...

... A sharp contrast to the account which you are about to read.

I'll post more about this pic, and all the loveliness that accompanied it, when time allows and I have sufficiently exhausted my rant. Thanks.


So there I am enjoying a nice lunch of buffalo burger and fried zucchini with onions when my phone rings.

I don't recognize the name on my caller ID right off but, when one runs a business from home, that happens from time to time, so I answer.

"Hi, Angeleen, this is Gary from (insert corny online retailer name here) calling about the recent feedback you left on Amazon."

"WOW!" thought I, "I just left that feedback not an hour ago!"*

I recover from my shock and greet him politely with a cheerful, "Hi, Gary!" thinking maybe, just MAYBE, the hinged barbecue grate I had ordered, to replace our used-to-death one for James as a Father's Day gift, had suddenly become available and he was calling to let me know! He had been so kind to call me the very next day after I ordered it to let me know he really DIDN'T have one, like it said he did on the web and, in fact, he didn't even know when he WOULD have one so he was returning my hard-earned $40-plus-shipping to my VISA post haste. Nice guy. I was very impressed with his customer service.

"Hi, yea, I was wondering if you could remove the neutral rating from your feedback?"


"What?" I finally forced out.

"Well, you see we have a customer rating of nearly 100% and a neutral rating is really damaging to us, so while your feedback was fair and probably accurate, I was hoping you could remove it?"

"Um, isn't the whole reason for having a rating system that people get a fair and accurate view of the seller? I said your customer service was great, just your inventory tracking needed help. It's a balanced statement. I didn't say I had a bad experience..." I explained in complete disbelief.

"I know. Could you just delete it?"

"I'm sorry, but I'm really confused. Why is there even a feedback process if you can just call me and ask me to take it all back? It undermines the whole POINT of HAVING a rating system!" I exclaimed, still dumbfounded that I was actually having this conversation.

"The problem is the rating system could be a lot more explanatory than it is" he whined. "You know, like, there could be a 'customer service: excellent, inventory: poor...'"



"Look, Gary, I'll go in right now and delete my feedback if it's really that detrimental to your rating and you feel good about getting a high rating by eliminating anything but high ratings. I'll tell you this, though, I'll sure think twice before I believe those little numbers next to any other vendor I consider buying from..." I spouted, wanting to just get this jackass off my phone and back to my rapidly-cooling food.

"Thank you very much." *click*

I did go in and delete my feedback, as he had begged, then immediately fired off a very cynical email asking what he would have done had I actually left a NEGATIVE comment?? I know. I caved. But I'm sure he's a small business owner just like me and he seemed really, truly, if perhaps irrationally, unnerved. I can relate to an unreasonable sensitivity to criticism of my work... though I have never asked anyone to pretend they didn't have anything negative to say about it.

(Instead, I just mentally crawl into a deep, dark hole above which I plant a bright yellow flag with the word "FRAUD" emblazoned upon it in big, red letters for all the world to see. Sort of an open invitation to point at me and laugh while I beat myself up far more severely than my worst critic could ever aspire to bludgeon my self esteem. Otherwise, I'm totally cool.)

My question is, why the hell is he so frightened of a NEUTRAL rating on Amazon that he felt compelled to call me... on the phone... not email me? What was so urgent? Is Amazon some kind of retail Gestapo that whacks you if you don't perform above the 98% mark? Or is this guy truly just a complete paranoid perfectionist that can't stand to hear anything negative about his precious little web store that he's probably running out of his spare room, much like I run an ad agency out of mine? Was that phone call his "deep, dark hole?"

Here's the deal: when I tried to buy a grill grate through Amazon, I really had no idea I would end up having to defend myself for telling the truth... to Gary. Shopping on the internet is supposed to have that comforting element of anonymity... right? That's what's supposed to be WRONG with shopping online is the lack of human interaction... right?

Well, today the internet just got a whole lot less anonymous... and a little more creepy.

I hope Gary gets some counseling... or at least some good meds to handle his paranoia. If he calls me again, I just might send him some of mine.

Caveat emptor...

*Funny thing. Until Amazon pinged me to hurry up and leave feedback from my now-aged transaction, I hadn't even thought about doing it.


Lisa said...

Oh, that is so weird and creepy. I wonder how many times he would have called you if you hadn't deleted it after you told him you would.

Angeleen said...

No kidding.

I might have been more likely to stick to my guns had I not felt like he would either start crying right there on the phone or come kill me in my sleep.

Either way, I wasn't going to risk it!

Angelina said...

That is so inappropriate of Gary that it astonishes me! I have called people who have placed orders online with me to iron out details but even if I offered a way to leave feedback, I would never call to ask a person to either explain themselves further or to delete what their honest opinion was.

This reminds me that as soon as I can I need to go through my own website to adjust inventory so as to avoid these kinds of situations.