Helping Win Hearts & Minds on
the Battlefields of Online Media
These Trash Carts
are Garbage

(on major retail site)

Pacman's Review

I have purchased several PremoBrand wheeled trash cans (carts) over the years. This is the first time I am downgrading my rating for this product. We have been using this particular cart for about two weeks now.

Overall, PremoBrand trash carts function fine. Their lids are attached to the cart body so they will not blow off in high winds or when tossed by trash collectors. The rear handle works well and there is a second grab point so collectors can roll it to the truck. A metal bar in the front of the cart is for use by the hydraulic lift mechanism of many trash trucks. On my 48 gallon cart, the lid shuts tight to help keep out rain/snow and keep in the contents.

So, the reason I am downgrading my rating is due to poor quality control. After bringing the cart home and filling it with shredded paper, I saw that the cart was so thin around the rear handle area that it had several holes, and light from a flashlight shined through the holes. This thinness will eventually cause breakage in time.

To be fair, this is not a problem necessarily with the cart design itself. The problem is with the molding process, whereby not enough material is getting to that area of the cart body. If the cart was inspected prior to being shipped, the defects were not caught.

Some of my other PremoBrand carts have different defects from the molding process. Most common are openings in the area around the handle, which allow flies to get inside and cause infestation problems. A solution is to fill the holes with silicone caulk. Another procedure is to frequently wash the inside of the cart, and when holes are found, shoot water into them to flush out hiding insect larvae.

If this cart was not defective, I would have give it a full five stars rating (with a cautionary note to inspect any cart carefully before purchase).

I have taken photos of the cart and will return to BigNationalRetailer with them to see if they can order another for an exchange. If so, hopefully the replacement cart will not have body defects.

Response Case Study:

Responding to Product Reviews:
Fake Claim of Ongoing Product Defects

    Similar to attack service reviews, attack product reviews seek to destroy—to slander a product to the extent that nobody reading the review would buy it. Attack reviews are different than the typical negative reviews from honest people, which complain about bad delivery, missing parts, aberrant defects and failures, and perhaps features that are weak for what they personally prioritize. However, the response principles are similar to both in important respects, as discussed below.

    We believe many attack product reviews are fake reviews paid for by competitors. The rest are from narcissists seeking revenge because customer service didn't accede to their ridiculous demands.

    Attack product reviews zero in like a laser on the most important product feature(s), or some critical aspect of the quality/durability of the product—like the engine room of a ship—and torpoedo it. At the same time, they seek to sound credible by saying positive things about the product.

    A grossly exaggerated example would be a review of a car that says, It looks great, has lots of passenger room and trunk space, unequalled safety features, and gives a smooth ride, but one minor inconvenience is that the engine blows out after a thousand miles. I've replaced three engines already.

    In this case study, we respond to a review that seeks to destroy a two-wheel trash cart, not a car. Our client, who we'll call PremoBrand, is the leading manufacturer of large trash carts of up to 96 gallons, with attached lids and two wheels that make it easy to roll the carts out to the street on trash day, to be emptied by the lifters of garbage trucks. While they're just garbage containers, PremoBrand engenders the love and loyalty of customers, because they're so perfect in every way for what they do. Our response provides more details.

    PremoBrand's Response
    This review is pure fiction. PremoBrand trash carts are the most popular on the market because they are the most durable, with a typical service life of 15 to 20 years. They carry a 10-year warranty with the lowest claim rate in the industry. PremoBrand is the preferred brand of national waste haulers, and our carts are loved by consumers—not just for their durability and long service life, but also for their appearance, mobility and general ease of use. Millions are in service across America.

    Thanks to a patented manufacturing process pioneered by PremoBrand, our cart bodies are made as one piece, with no separate bottom and side walls, i.e., no seams, and consistent wall thickness. This allows the use of medium-density polyethylene (MDPE), which is highly impact resistant and usually lasts twice as long as injection-molded carts, which are made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that is more rigid, brittle, and offer poor impact resistance.

    We encourage readers to search the thousands of reviews on this site for PremoBrand trash carts. You'll find some issues, but you'll find no credible chronic problems with our cart bodies. For any questions or concerns, please call PremoBrand customer service at 555-555-5555.

    The review by Pacman is a classic attack product review. It tries to poison the product with the proposterous idea that the manufacturing process continuously churns out defective cart bodies (he claims to own multiple carts with such defects). Note the tortured attempt to sound objective and approving of the product—no honest consumer would do this.

    While we know it's nonsense, having read thousands and responded to hundreds of these trash cart reviews, regular consumers might believe it. Thus, it's imperative to respond.

    It's imperative to respond to any and every negative review—even honest and friendly reviews—that makes negative statements about essential product features. Erroneous factual statements must be corrected. In a sense, the strategy for responding to negative product reviews is a fairly simple matter:

    • Correct Negatives About Key Features. Do this immediately, do it clearly and unapologetically, and offer evidence (although not to the point of sounding defensive).
    • Establish Credibility. Make it clear that the product is popular and has been on the market for years, and back this up with any hard evidence, i.e., numbers.

    A Rare Defect
    If it's an honest review, or the customer is talking about a problem with a single item, then we'd suggest they may have received a rare defect and to call customer service or take whatever action is appropriate.

    Oftentimes, however, it's not a defect, but the customer has a bizarre sensitivity or an unrealistic expectation, and perhaps likes to exaggerate to evoke emotion, e.g., This computer power supply is so loud my neighbors complain about the noise.

    You won't know what the issue is, so it's convenient to simply suggest they may have a rare defect, and to contact customer service. Importantly, however, any negative assertions should first be corrected, with positive product messages (offering evidence, if possible), e.g.: "With a dBA range of 15 to 20, our power supply is among the quietest on the market, and has an 80 Plus Titanium efficiency rating. Possibly you received a supply with a rare defect. Please contact customer service at 555-555-5555."

    In responding to any negative review, it's important to establish as much credibility as possible—credibliity for the product, and perhaps for the manufacturer as well. The more severe the review, such as an attack review, the more credibility should be built into the response.

    In this PremoBrand trash cart example, after first saying the review is nonsense and that PremoBrand carts are the most popular and the most durable on the market, we fire off one credibility statement after another: the service life, the 10-year warranty, the lowest claim rate, use by national waste haulers, etc. We explain why the cart bodies are so durable (thank's to pioneering manufacturing technology). Finally, we point readers to the thousands of positive reviews on the retailer site, i.e., if you don't believe us, see what other customers are saying.

    If this was an honest review and simply about a single cart, we wouldn't have called it fiction and used so many credibility statements. We wouldn't have referenced other reviews. We'd have said: 1) thank you for choosing PremoBrand, 2) our trash carts are the most durable and popular, 3) you may have received a rare defect, 4) the cart is covered by a 10-year warranty, and 5) please call customer service.

    If You Cannot Respond
    Earlier, we said that it's imperative to respond and challenge negative statements about important product features. But what if you can't?

    In Dec. 2020, Amazon stopped allowing manufacturers to respond to reviews of their products, claiming the feature was rarely used, which is nonsense. In Dec. 2021, Walmart changed its reviews section and removed the ability to respond, but a year later, appears to have reversed course. Hopefully, Amazon will one day do the same.

    Not allowing a business to respond to erroneous information and slander is disturbing, in principle. It's especially unfortunate for product reviews. If a restaurant review says the food wasn't so great and the service stunk, that could have been an off-night, or the reviewer got unlucky, or it's a matter of personal taste/bias. A product is a product—a static, unchanging material thing. It's easy for a competitor to sabotage your product with fake reviews that attack its soft underbelly. To take the computer power supply example, a competitor could get multiple reviews published that make the same claim: it's too noisy, or it over-heats, or whatever.

    Again, it's imperative that negative statements about important product features be countered. If you cannot respond, than these negative reviews need to be surrounded by positive reviews that countradict the negative assertions. Depending on the product, this may happen organically, because the product gets so many reviews. However, these reviews need to specifically address and contradict the attacks on the specific features. The positive reviews for the power supply need to say, "Man, it's so quiet I can hear my heart beating."

    Review HELPER can help you build positive reviews, from real customers.

    A companion strategy is to make sure the FAQ or Questions section on your retail product pages asks the right questions and receives the right answers. On Amazon, Walmart, and other retail sites, manufacturers are able (indeed, they are encouraged) to answer customer questions.