The more we buy online the more we rely on honest reviews to help us make a decision not only on a product but also on a company. You want to know if you purchase and something goes wrong will you be able to return it? Or if the product does not come as advertised will you be scammed out of your money? Or simply to know about what people are saying about a particular company to see if you want to support it. Chances are, we have all read reviews, especially those that use Amazon or look for food delivery. The issue though is that when you give dishonest people a chance to voice their opinion, they often abuse it. And many 1-star reviews are nothing more than that. So how do you know when to trust them or not?
First, we have to realize what each star means. A 3 is generally regarded as neutral, meaning neither good nor bad. As expected. That means that 4 is better than expected and 5 really exceeding expectations. And therefore 2, worse than expected and 1 clearly not even coming close to reaching expectations. A strong letdown so to speak. But I feel that the 1 should have another addendum to it as I feel that there are levels of disappointment and some often given harshly before the situation has come to a conclusion.
For example, if you purchased a product online and it arrives incorrectly, but the company sorts it out for you, in the end, you suffered a minor inconvenience but the company made up for it and you got what you wanted. What rating does that warrant? If you think 2-4, chances are you are a normal person. If you automatically assume 1, you are the problem. Too often are expectations beyond reality and when the smallest thing goes wrong one wants to kick up the biggest fuss for it. The issue with that is that these unrealistic people often hurt a company’s otherwise great reputation, or at least attempt to which is even worse. Some of you will assume right now that this is about my own company. But it’s not. I do not care about 1-star reviews as I know that the people leaving them just don’t like me personally, or were called out for being rude themselves and it really had nothing to do with the product or the service. I work hard to ensure that.
So what actually inspired this post is a combination of me buying goods on Amazon (mainly for the house and my son) and therefore constantly reading reviews. But that has gone on for a while now. Another instance was reading about local salons for my wife (that was diabolically challenging to understand – such polar opposite reviews). But what really caused me to start writing this post was looking for a pizza delivery where I live over the weekend which is even more confusing than looking at clothing companies. And this is what I have learned from my ‘review reading’ that I feel can spread across multiple industries. Sometimes reading bad reviews you get worried about the product/service, but more often than not, a lot of the 1-star reviews are nothing more than complainers and you have to know when that is the case.
The 1-star reviewer
Most people that leave one-star reviews already have chips on their shoulders. They almost look to complain. Chances are, if you look at their profile you will see a pattern. And that means something. It’s as if complaining solidifies their self-worth. They gain a sense of pride from doing so and probably give a little self-pat on the back after leaving a bad review. I feel that for normal human beings, it really has to take a lot to go online and spend your time tearing down a company for what must have been a really bad service or product experience (but in the case of a product experience if the company replaces it then it’s fine). But the 1-star reviewer actually feels good about it. You can often tell in their writing. Because it is all about them. And it is often ego-based i.e. someone did not get paid attention to, the customer made a mistake, feels dumb, and wants to blame elsewhere, or intentional 1-star reviews for people that simply want to hurt the company. It is rare that a genuine 1-star exists when the company actually gets predominantly 4 and 5 stars. Now, if the average is below 3, then chances are better that those 1 stars are genuine.
I have felt like giving a 1-star rating maybe twice in my life. I have to be quite bothered to feel like that. Most of the time I expect poor service, especially in 2022 where pride in being the best one can be (for self-respect) is at an all-time low. And one time I swore that I would do so (write a bad review) as I never wanted someone else to experience what I did. But in the end, I never did it. Some will say that I am doing people a disservice by not doing so. And maybe they’re right. But also, we must think, maybe my experience was a fluke. No one was actually harmful/hateful to me. But the service was appalling and the disorganization was even crazier which caused my family and me a massive inconvenience. But chances are the environment at the time also made it worse than it really was (JFK parking lot, late at night, with wife and infant, waited more 40 mins to get my car as they couldn’t find it – due to their poor system and me having to use my phone in a large parking lot to try and find my own car). But when I looked at it outside of the environment i.e the next day, I realized they were just employees, it was late, we were all tired, it was dark, it was hard to see license plates, there were a lot of customers there waiting, and the lot had no lights so maybe it was just the company’s fault for a bad system and in the end what I experienced was a compilation of many small things coming together to create a bad experience, but it never felt intentional by the employees. So I never wrote that bad review. But I have written good ones. Because those are far more important. Being negative takes a toll. Being positive feels good.
So how does this relate to shoes?
Chances are, especially nowadays, with new brands popping up and more and more companies being online based, the review is something we seek out when looking to buy a new product we are not already familiar with. We rely on other people’s experiences to feel comfortable in making that purchase. The issue is that sometimes we can be discouraged when we see 1-star reviews, but I think that we need to train ourselves in knowing which ones are valid and which ones are nothing more than unrealistic expectations or ones that are clearly people being highly oversensitive. In shoes, I feel that people that complain about a shop visit where they did not get greeted in 30 seconds are just oversensitive. Or they expect an employee who gets paid $15/hr to treat them like the shop owner might or Nordstrom Seattle circa 2000. Because a shop experience has nothing to really do with a product in reality. People often conflate the two. And that is where lines get blurred. And this happens more often than not. Also mistakes. Mistakes happen. It is human nature. But does the company rectify the mistake? Do they give you the runaround? So many 1-star reviews were nothing more than a mistake and the people are so quick to write that bad review. Do they correct it when the problem eventually gets resolved? Who knows, but I bet that there is a certain percentage who leave that scathing review up.
The point of the story is that when you see 1-star reviews, do not necessarily read too much into them. Especially if it is the case where all of the other reviews are 5-star. It’s funny how often you see that. Only 1’s and 5’s. And you know what that means right? When you see that it means that the 1’s are all unrealistic people. Because it does not make logical sense for so many to leave 5’s if the service/product is actually bad. It means the 1’s came in with their attitude, didn’t get treated the way they foolishly expect, and complained because someone didn’t bow down to them. I wonder what the company’s review of that client would be? Imagine if we could do that, like Uber. Because a lot of times, people come with an attitude. And this all sounds like service based, but that can be product based too, where people buy a Carlos Santos and expect a Gaziano & Girling and then complain when their $300 purchase is not $1500 flawless. Go figure. Another great one is when they buy $200 shoes and expect them to be the world’s greatest shoe, the most comfortable, and manufactured with pristine precision. This happens all too often. They go on there and leave their unrealistic expectations for others to read, sadly creating a culture of further unrealistic expectations.
The greatest case of this whole story happens all of the time with Meermin Mallorca. People go there because the shoes are sub $200 and then they are surprised when the shoes do not give them $1000 quality. It just baffles me. If you want to have a chuckle just google Meermin reviews. It is quite entertaining.
And I won’t lie, I do get confused when there are as many 1’s as 5’s. Something is odd there. But when the 1’s are the small percentage and the rest is mainly 4-5 stars. Chances are those 1’s were not actually due to the company or product but rather the person or sometimes just a bad fluke. And these things happen.
So, don’t be a 1-star reviewer unless it is truly justified. And truly justified is usually when you get scammed, lose your money, or actually were treated harmfully (verbally) or the company messes up and doesn’t rectify it whatsoever. Getting your ego bruised doesn’t count. Neither does making a mistake and trying to blame someone else.
Hi Justin sometimes people are so self centered that they can’t appreciate the things that are really important . If I ever visited your shop I would would be so excited to not only see your shoes but to actually meet you
Thank you Keith, I do appreciate that and will look forward to your visit one day soon 😉
Good read Justin! People and expectations let me tell you…it ties with the entry you made about shoe pricing and the ‘deficiencies’ people find on a $300 pair of shoes…
And yes, as a Canadian sucks paying import duties…thank you again for your blog.
Thank you Pau!