*******************************DISCLAIMER: The following essay states my personal opinions on walmart.com's recently added policy of allowing product reviews. Before we begin, I would like to CLEARLY state that Wal-Mart & walmart.com are allowed, by their terms of service, to edit any and all content submitted to their Web site. It is their Web site. They can do whatever they want to with it. I am not accusing Wal-Mart or walmart.com of breaking any laws or committing a felony, doing anything illegal, dishonest, false, fallacious or erroneous. The ONLY thing I am accusing them of is not operating in an open and transparent fashion. If they came out and said "Yes, we edit the reviews," then there is not an issue here.
It is my personal opinion that Wal-Mart’s plan to allow customer feedback on items sold on walmart.com will never work in an honest, democratic, checks-and-balances fashion. Here’s why I believe this to be true.
I personally believe that the company is highly editing the reviews before they allow them to go onto the Web site. I repeat. IT IS MY PERSONAL OPINION THAT THE REVIEWS ARE BEING EDITED.
Read this thread of reviews about a $538 Emerson LCD HDTV.
Read this thread of reviews about a $498 set of patio furniture.
Read this thread of reviews about a $268 set of patio furniture.
There are few spelling errors, zero bad punctuation and precious few mistakes period in there. Oddly enough, they kept some of the atrocious grammar. That’s probably just the Arkansas educational system - or the result of trying to edit without seeming to edit. Plus, there are marketing buzzwords, survey jargon and positive Wal-Mart messages sprinkled through those reviews like croutons on a rancid deli salad.
To wit: “adequate amount of inputs” or “meets or exceeds my expectations” or "very unique and contemporary in design" or "recommend to all who want a nice tv for a decent price” or "elegant look for an excellent price" or “the local Walmart store politely and promptly accepted my WalMart.com return for refund.” They even turn the negative reviews into positives about Customer Service!
This just serves as further proof that as a company, Wal-Mart cannot and will not allow honest discourse on its products. Examine the waiting period between the time comments are submitted and the time they appear on the Web site – 3-5 DAYS? Sorry. I can't find a link directly to the guidelines.
Honestly, I initially believed that too many Wal-Mart haters were going to view the product reviews as an opportunity to cry foul on the company, its practice of outsourcing and the cheaply made goods that resulted from Wal-Mart's drive for profits.
Obviously they have figured a way around that. And the positive to negative ratio of product reviews must be running around 5-1.
I think you also have to look at the target consumer of walmart.com as opposed to the rest of the Internet. Despite what you may think, it is not the same.
In my opinion, the walmart.com user is not as sophisticated as the average user for amazon.com, bn.com, circuitcity.com or any other online retailer. Obviously they were going to have to employ people to re-write what they wrote. And then couldn’t resist “improving” the reviews.
Walmart.com looks at the Web site simply as an extension of the brand – aimed at the same customer. Stupid in the store translates to stupid on the Web site. Wal-Mart cannot allow this tarnishing of its brand to happen, ergo, word magic!
The point I think some people may miss when dealing with walmart.com is that IT IS STILL WAL-MART STUFF. People keep buying it in the stores – obviously they will keep buying it online. It is still cheap foreign-made crap even though it comes from a shiny computer instead of a dirty store filled with people who won't help you.
I would say that the majority of the people going to walmart.com are just looking for cheap stuff. They are going to buy cheap – no matter what the product review says – because they trust Wal-Mart to deliver low prices.
PS: Watch out for reviews by Wal-Mart associates. As discovered on these gas grill reviews.