'Bribe' or 'miswording'? You make the call

The Consumerist last week posted an item about an outfit called TheCellShop.net and its apparent attempt to buy itself a top-notch reputation on resellerratings.com. The practice is not uncommon on ratings sites, but isn't usually this bald-faced in that TheCellShop wasn't just asking for good grades but 100% perfect ones.

The Consumerist last week posted an item about an outfit called TheCellShop.net and its apparent attempt to buy itself a top-notch reputation on resellerratings.com. The practice is not uncommon on ratings sites, but isn't usually this bald-faced in that TheCellShop wasn't just asking for good grades but 100% perfect ones:

"Dear Valued Customer," it wrote in an e-mail. "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 in credit to use for anything on our Web site."

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 should send "Danny" at TheCellShop an e-mail to give him an opportunity to defend himself. Here's his reply:

"We worded the e-mail that was sent out improperly. We wanted to offer $5 coupon to anybody who submitted a review ... we have [acknowledged] the mistake as well on resellerratings.com. We are now offering $5 for anybody who leaves a review whether it be good or bad. … It was our fault for the misworded e-mails."

Convinced? Me neither.

My guess is that it's going to get more reviews and coupon requests than it can handle now ... and not many are going to be giving perfect grades.

YouTube down, everybody panic

It's a quiet Saturday morning at home when my 6-year-old son, Max, scoops his journalist dad: "The LEGO Star Wars videos are broken," he calls from the office as I peck away on my laptop at the kitchen table.

Sure enough, YouTube was down. And before more than an hour had passed, large swaths of the Internet had begun to suffer withdrawal symptoms. Others were clearly starting to freak.

"Seriously, its starting to scare me," wrote one blogger. "If nothing else I need YouTube up tonight to watch Transformers Animated and the next episode of 'From the Drawer.' "

Tin-foil hatters were conjuring up conspiracy theories, one going so far as to suggest that Hillary Clinton's campaign was behind the outage.

Couple hours later, a YouTube spokesman told me via e-mail: "The site was down for about an hour due to internal technical issues. Our engineers quickly assessed and resolved the problem."

It was more like three hours, but let's not quibble.

Meanwhile, Max, being the savvy Web veteran that most 6-year-olds are these days, was getting his LEGO Star Wars videos from another site. There's no panic in that kid.

Get a grip or you don't get the job

Never mind polishing the resume. Work on the handshake. That's the conclusion of recent research conducted by the University of Iowa's Department of the Blindingly Obvious.

"We've always heard that interviewers make up their mind about a person in the first two or three minutes of an interview, no matter how long the interview lasts," says study leader Greg Stewart, associate professor of management and organizations. "We found that the first impression begins with a handshake that sets the tone for the rest of the interview."

Other tips for job seekers gleaned from the study include:

* Stash the breath mint before the interview begins; do not offer one to your host.

* Wear socks that match, of course, but avoid putting your feet up on the interviewer's desk.

* BlackBerry and cell phone stay in your pocket — yes, really.

And, at the conclusion of the interview, any damage sustained from a limp-wristed welcome handshake can be overcome with a light kiss on both cheeks.

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