The practice is not exactly uncommon, but isn't usually this bald-faced in that TheCellShop wasn't just asking for good grades but 100% perfect ones:
Dear Valued Customer,
If you have purchased from us before and feel we did a good job, please use the link below and rate us 10/10 and we will give you $5.00 in credit to use for anything on our website.
The pitch was even thoughtful enough to walk a customer through the process of fudging an invoice number needed to submit the review if they no longer had theirs handy.
Since The Consumerist didn't mince words in its headline -- "TheCellShop.net Caught Bribing Customers To Submit 'Perfect' Reviews -- I figured I'd send "Danny" at TheCellShop an e-mail to give him an opportunity to defend himself. Here's his reply:
We worded the email that was sent out improperly. We wanted to offer $5.00 coupon to anybody who submitted a review ... we have posted the mistake as well on resellerratings.com.
We are now offering $5.00 for anybody who leaves a review whether it be good or bad.
We posted a few replies to the reviews on resellerratings letting consumers know we did in fact make an error and will have to deal with it since it was our fault for the misworded emails that were sent out.
Convinced? Me neither.
My guess is that they're going to get more reviews and coupon requests than they can handle now ... and not many are going to be giving perfect grades.
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