The Influential Life

The Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas has always had opinions, and she is rarely shy about expressing them. For this reason, she has always been diligent about reviewing the products she buys online. It is important to recognize the good products (and especially the good vendors), while warning folks away from the crap. It is simply a matter of good online-retail citizenship.

Plus, she likes to be creative with her reviews. Tell a little story.

Apparently sometimes being a good retail citizen pays. Some unknown robot at Amazon flagged her reviewing prowess and (I assume) some human subsequently decided that the OSoMR&HBI would be a good person to become a professional giver of opinions.

That is, it turns out, a real job.

It works like this. You select things from a giant pile, they send you the things, and you review them. And keep the things. “Influence” has now become a transitive verb where we used to use “buy”. As in, “I just influenced these jeans and they fit perfectly!”

It’s a good time to be turning half the garage into a workshop. Yesterday my new laser level arrived. Today it was the laser tape measure (that will calculate area and volume and do trig and save up to 50 measurements) and the bike torque wrench. The blocks for calibrating table saw cuts came yesterday; the router table equivalents arrive tomorrow, along with the rounded-edge router bit for my window sill project. The lamps for over the new workbench arrive soon. All for the cost of an opinion. (And income tax on the retail value of the item.)

It’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around. I didn’t fully understand at first β€” it didn’t really sink in until the Official Sweetie showed me the new light fixture she was considering for the hallway. Sputnik! I saw the retail price and asked, “are they seriously sending that to us?” I kind of felt like the first time our little protector dog Lady Byng was barking at the intruder at the door until she realized he was BRINGING FOOD! Mind-blowing! The fixture arrived today, the bulbs arrive tomorrow, and I’ll put it up on Saturday. And help write the review.

We are required to either send an item back, use it, or keep it for at least six months before giving it to family and friends, so you guys are safe from being inundated with LED flashlights and solar-powered LED patio string lights and more solar-powered LED patio string lights and LED bulbs and rechargeable LED under-shelf lights and multi-color LED strip lights and LED wall wash light strips and LED flashing red hazard lights (with bottle opener) in your Christmas stockings this year.

If you would like to follow the Official Sweetie and learn of her many, many opinions, you can do so here. Does having more followers benefit us? Probably. Not sure. But probably. If you find any of those reviews helpful, go ahead and say so! Do more “helpful” votes benefit us? Not sure, but again, probably. Don’t perjure yourself. Who really knows what’s happening in the Amazon Artificial Intelligence. (Seriously good opportunity for crossover speculative fiction there…)

If there is something you are curious about β€” more a general type of product than a specific item, as there are about 45,000 items available for review at any given time and there is no search function, just filters to select for broad categories β€” let us know! If either of us are remotely qualified to render an opinion, and we can find an example, we’ll give it a shot. It you’re waiting for the verdict on a pneumatic drain clearing tool, we’ve already got you covered!


4 thoughts on “The Influential Life

  1. This is just Amazon charging legit sellers (in the form of giveaways) for legit reviews to try to offset the 1000x flood of bad sellers giving away stuff in exchange for 5-star-only reviews. The whole review ecosystem is broken, because the value of the reviews is too high. But I’m glad you’re capitalizing on Amazon’s failings.

    • On other sites, when she leaves a bad review for something, and the review doesn’t appear on the site, she will let the world know (or at least her corner of the world), and she will no longer shop there (this includes some pretty large retailers). Perhaps this is part of her profile that has led to her invitation to be an influencer on Amazon.

  2. This just in from Amazon (I sell there on behalf of a client), r.e. a new tool to deal with negative (including 3-star) feedback: “This tool provides two templated emails that allow brand registered sellers to easily respond to customers. You can choose to either offer a full refund or request additional information about the offer to help resolve the issue.”

    The email that doesn’t offer a full refund encourages buyers to encourage sellers to grant a full refund, but any attempt by the seller to make the deal quid-pro-quo, resulting in a modification of the review, will result in bannination.

    I see plenty of chances for getting even the stuff you pay for for free. (too many “for”s in there, but I’m rushed) Amazon is training an entire generation of spoiled, planet-killing consumers to be Simply The Worst.

    • From the consumer side, I can see that “I’ll fix your problem if you change your review” is problematic, with potential for abuse going both directions. So, yeah, quid-pro-quo seems like something to discourage.

      You said that the value of reviews is too high, but are they? When I have seven nearly-identical products to choose from, I’m going to the reviews to inform my final decision. The core of the problem isn’t that reviews are too valuable, it’s that they can be bought. I imagine there are many companies who devote a significant part of their marketing budget to buying reviews. Ten years ago they’d be buying ads instead. But ads don’t mean much when people find products through the search functions at Amazon and eBay (except for the featured matches, of course).

      And Vine is not a good answer to the problem. Sam saw a review today that was (paraphrased) “Five Stars! This is awesome! I can’t wait to use it!” If I were King of Amazon, the fifth thing I would do would be to cull “all-five” reviewers. (The first four are about labor and tax practices.)

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