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Up the Amazon Without a Paddle - A Bad Reviewers Review

07/08/2014 11:37 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 10:59 BST

Companies placing responsibility in the hands of the public is both bold and precarious. Nowhere is this more evident than in the review sections that gild the product pages of Amazon. Of course, the majority serve as a valuable steer for would-be customers. Many, however, fail to reach even the most basic criteria required i.e. the product review in no way resembles a review of the product. And without naming names or exposing these cyber-rogues, here's my non-exhaustive list of GENUINE review-provocateurs.

1. It is of no concern of mine that your parcel was left in the recycle bin on collection day. Nor am I really interested in your light fingered neighbour or that your nearest collection depot is 50 miles from your house. To regale a wordy tale of how the postman's illegible handwriting meant you went door to door in search of your new Slendertone belt bares no relevance to anybody looking to carve new abs. Agreed, it's annoying for you. But we still don't need to know.

2. The fact that you actually ordered a mind-blowingly cheap Android phone from the far reaches of China's dark techno-district undermines your claims to have several Degrees in Engineering, a Doctorate in Rocket Science and statue erected in your honour at the entrance to Silicon Valley. It really doesn't matter how many letters there are after you name, moaning about the touchscreen of a £20 device and claiming that you are somehow more qualified to appraise it than the rest of us is both pompous and arrogant. Of course it's going to be a bit rubbish. As is your, 'I've been an electronics professor for 50 years and couldn't get it to connect to the Wi-Fi...' shtick.

3. It's only natural that there will be a couple spelling mistakes in your Amazon review; let's face it, it isn't going to receive the same love and attention as your mid-year report or school dissertation. But 'to', 'two' and 'too' are three different words. As are 'there', 'their' and 'they're'. And don't get me started on 'your' and 'you're'. I don't want to be a grammar snob, but your product critique shouldn't look like it's been spewed out of a bad online Chinese to English translator.

4. We know your new Nikon Cool Pix was half the price from 'Mr-Shonky-Offshore-Grey-Import-Electronics-Mega-Market.com'. But to bore us about it on Amazon doesn't really tell us what the Nikon Cool Pix is actually like, does it? And besides... just wait until you need to send it back.

5. And while we're on the subject...you went to Florida and saw that The Artisan Mixer was half the price. Well done. You should have bought one there.

6. Your DIY inabilities are not my, or anyone else's, problem. The £400 climbing frame you're unable to assemble is, frankly, a 'you' problem. The instructions did make sense, as is clearly indicated by the 99 other people who managed it. And had you not misassembled the first 20% of the structure you'll have realised that all the bits were there for the remaining 80. Give your skills one star by all means, but don't blame the climbing frame.

7. It's lovely that you bought your daughter a new watch and it arrived on time. But that's not a review; it's a statement of fact. And a pretty dull one at that.

8. If you're just one of those perpetually angry and bitter people, it's best you stay away from the review section altogether. Taking out your life's woes on a Russell Hobbs 14033 Travel Iron with Stainless Steel Soleplate isn't very helpful to somebody genuinely searching for a way to get creases out of their holiday clothes.

9. If you've obviously misread the item description, don't embarrass yourself by ranting about your new waffle iron that makes terrible toast.

10. 'Good' and 'bad' and 'avoid' do not constitute a review. They are single words that, in my opinion, need several other single words to even begin to form an evaluation. And while we're at it, anything over 500 is a thesis. I've read great reviews of fairly involved products like laptops and cameras that conclude at 300. So the fact you've rambled on about your iPhone case for 7 pages is a waste of everybody's time. Because there's not a person alive who cares about the thickness in microns around the camera aperture or the spurious lengths you went to to get it on your phone in the first place.

And there we have it. As I said, not exhaustive but hopefully comprehensive enough to put pressure on these afore mentioned review-provocateurs. And I hope word spreads soon because I need a new tripod. And all I've learned about my favoured model so far is that 'Angry-From-Staines' ordered his last September and he's only just found it buried behind the porch along with 12 missing copies of 'Which' magazine.