In the age of online shopping (and instant gratification), something that I always find interesting is reading individual customer reviews relating to specific products or services. Reviews are more important than ever when it comes to how often a restaurant or business shows up on Google, how highly they’re ranked on Yelp, and even how easily they pop up on Google maps. Plus, when I personally am trying to decide between two version of the same product or two different restaurants, for example, the final factor for me comes down to which has better reviews. I thoroughly read through the reviews (including the one-star ones) and weigh the pros and cons of each product version. Yes, I might take this a little too seriously, but I appreciate people sharing their honest opinions.
Recently, the online fast-fashion company Fashion Nova faced a lawsuit by an independent government-backed organization, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for failing to post accurate reviews of less than four stars. According to research from the FTC, Fashion Nova neglected to post thousands of these reviews from late 2015 to Nov. 2019 on items ranging from clothing to accessories. Fashion Nova was allegedly using software to filter out reviews less than four stars. Despite these claims, however, Fashion Nova maintains their innocence, but still opted to settle these claims for 4.5 million dollars outside of court. Furthermore, according to the company, these reviews were filtered out by a third-party system and occurred without their knowledge. Now, the company claims it will post all valid reviews moving forward.
This article got me thinking about all of the different types of software that companies use to enhance the experience for both employees and customers. While this software is different from programs that we’re specifically learning in class, the way the information is presented still matters. It made me more curious about these programs that specifically sort customer ratings—should we even have the capability to erase negative reviews? Do these reviews matter as much as we think we think they do? Additionally, I wonder how common it is for companies to rely on a third-party vendor as opposed to managing the data on their own.
I was particularly interested in following this case because I tend to believe the reviews I read online. In the age of advertising and data overload, I find it hard to trust product reviews that aren’t backed by real customers. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised that big retail giants might choose to filter out negative reviews, but this news does make me second guess how closely to scrutinize reviews in the future. Ideally, I also think companies should take these negative reviews into consideration while updating their product, rather than ignoring them altogether (which is certainly wishful thinking). Maybe it’s better to just take a shot in the dark when deciding whether or not you really need that leather jacket?
- Do you believe Fashion Nova didn’t know this third-party software was filtering out reviews? Why or why not?
- Do you take reviews into consideration when buying new products?
- Do you write your own reviews when a product either disappoints or exceeds your expectations?