buyer beware

Amazon Reviews and E-mail Spamming; The Pocket Hose Gimmick

I hadn’t planned on posting about this today, but I thought it was interesting. And I think it might be something other people might want to know if they decide to place product reviews on Amazon.

When you post a book review on Amazon for one of my books, I’m NOT going to spam you the moment the review goes live. And I don’t think any of the publishers I work with are going to do that either. As a reader, I’ve never been spammed because of a book review I’ve left on Amazon.

But I’m not so sure about other Amazon products. And if there is one thing I despise, it’s spam for a product I didn’t like.

Earlier this summer, I bought a garden hose I’d seen advertised on TV…The Pocket Hose. Actually, I bought two of them at $19.99 each. This is their web site. I purchased my hose at CVS, where they have an entire row of shelves dedicated to products that are advertised on TV. I’d seen the Pocket Hose on TV and I thought it would be fantastic. I have a lot of property and I spend a lot of time working outside, and I’m constantly looking for things like the Pocket Hose to make life a little easier. What could be more perfect than a hose that doesn’t kink and twist?

Unfortunately, The Pocket Hose only lasted for about a week or so. At first it worked great, and it did save me a lot of time. But after the third or fourth time I used it the poorly designed plastic part that connects to the outdoor faucet started to leak and it was rendered useless. I thought maybe that one hose was defective, so I threw it away and connected the second hose. In about the same amount of time, the second hose started doing the same thing the first hose did. It leaked so badly the hose wouldn’t even fill up enough to spray. And on top of that, I noticed a leak in the middle of the second hose. And I treated both hoses with care. I even had a special ceramic pot for storage each time I finished using them.  

I didn’t save the receipts and I’d paid cash, so I couldn’t return it to CVS to get my money back. So I considered it a loss, and a good lesson in the old saying that if something sounds too good to be true it most likely is. In fact, I never even thought to write this post. I know when I’m screwed and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Then last night I saw a post on social media about The Pocket Hose. The person who posted about it was making a joke. But that post reminded me that I hadn’t left a review about The Pocket Hose yet on Amazon, and I’d been reminding myself to do that so other people wouldn’t get taken in the same way I’d been taken in by this gimmick. So I went to Amazon, checked out other reviews and saw that many people had had similar negative experiences, and I left my review.

And this morning I find an e-mail from the makers of The Pocket Hose in my inbox, trying to sell me more of their useless product.

From my inbox:

You are receiving this mailing as a valued customer. To no longer receive any further messages please mail us: P.O Box 600991 San Diego, CA 92160 or Click Here
 
 
 
How could I be a valued customer? I have no association with the makers of  The Pocket Hose whatsoever. I bought mine at a retail outlet and paid cash. They have no record of my buying the defective hoses other than the review I left on Amazon last night. So, my only connection with the makers of The Pocket Hose is my Amazon review.
 
As a result, that’s the last time I ever leave a product review on Amazon again for anything other than a book. This was my first experience like that with an Amazon review, but I’m not going to take the chance on a second. My in-box is crowded enough already with work, friends, and other spammers. I don’t want spam of any kind, and especially not spam from a company that ripped me off with an inferior product they shouldn’t even be allowed to sell…because I left an Amazon review of the product. I could send a complaint to Amazon, but I don’t want to waste my time. I get enough hits on this blog to at least warn a few thousand other consumers that the hose is a waste of money and if you leave a review for it on Amazon you’re going to get spammed by them. Buyer beware! 

Check Out ALL Amazon Reviewers’ Reviews Just to Be Sure

I’m always buying books, and my purchases have doubled since I started reading digital books. I hear about the books I buy all over the place, from social networks to literary agent blogs. But I’m also a shopper and I’ve learned to check out all product details, prices, and reviews so I know what I’m buying and there are no surprises.

When it comes to books, I think most authors and publishers get it right with regard to product details. The book descriptions are usually helpful, and for me, besides the cover, that’s the most important part of the shopping experience.

After I check out the publisher/author information, I usually go right to the amazon reviews. In most cases I think readers leave honest, informative reviews on amazon. However, there are times when I’m not sure what to think. I’ll see a negative review that’s only one line, which is a huge red flag for me. I know how people react when they don’t love a book. These reactions are usually far more emotional than when they do love a book and readers are not shy about letting other people know they didn’t enjoy the experience.

But a one line, one star review makes me wonder. Something like this happened to me this weekend. I saw a book being promoted on a social network and decided to check it out to see if I wanted to purchase it. There were two great reviews for the book, and one lone negative review. The negative review consisted of one sentence and the reviewer’s name was one of those way out fake names you come across every now and then on Amazon.

So I decided to check out the reviewer’s other amazon reviews. And sure enough, there were plenty of other reviews. And each of those reviews was a negative one star review, only one or two sentences long, and they were all for erotic romances. This didn’t make sense either. Most people who read erotic romances are usually extremely discreet and don’t leave any reviews at all. Or they are extremely passionate and leave reviews all over the place. For some, it’s a passionate hobby. They love romance and erotic romance so much they can’t wait to talk about it in a review. And their reviews are usually balanced. And there are always far more positive reviews than negative reviews. This makes sense; no one loves every book and no one ever will.

But what about those who only leave negative reviews? Of course it’s possible that there are readers who only leave negative reviews on amazon for personal reasons. I guess anything is possible. However, as a shopper, when I’m looking for information about a book, I find it hard to take someone like this seriously.

After I checked out the amazon reviews for this particular book I was thinking about buying, I went to goodreads.com and checked out their reviews for the book. There were over 100 wonderful reviews and a few so-so reviews. But nothing that would have turned me away from buying the book.

This has happened to me before while I’ve been shopping for books. I’ve come across amazon reviewers…always with way out contrived names…who leave negative reviews for erotic romances and never leave one single positive review. Again, this makes no sense, and if it doesn’t make sense I find it hard to take the reviewer seriously. Common sense dictates that if someone only reads erotic romance, there will be more books they love than hate. And the more critical reviews will usually be far longer than the negative reviews.

But if a reviewer only leaves negative reviews all the time, without taking the time to ever leave a positive review, I’m still going to have trouble taking them seriously. I start to wonder if there isn’t a hidden agenda; maybe the reviewer isn’t very stable. I like to keep it positive all the time. Life’s much nicer that way, and I think most people would agree with me.

So never take one amazon review to heart when you’re shopping for a book. Always check out the reviewer’s other reviews and compare them. And then check out the goodreads reviews. As a shopper, I find there’s more consistency over at goodreads, which I depend on when I’m spending my hard earned money making a purchase.