Question: It Was A Poor Product, But Was My Rating Too Harsh?

A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: I placed an order for 100 small flashlights because my customer found them on my website. I have my website limited to products with “A” ratings or better, but that still leaves a lot of wiggle room. This order was placed through a supplier I’d never heard of, but I couldn’t find anything comparable in the relatively short window we had available.

When I received the product, my customer and I found that more than one-third of the shipment didn’t work, or the flashlights were so dim they were otherwise useless. Because we were two days out from the event the flashlights were needed for, I sat in my customer’s office—luckily, in this case, it was my friend—and spent nearly two hours taking four small batteries out of each non-working light, buffing them on my jeans and reinserting them. This increased the usable number of flashlights to 95 out of 100.

I left a rating that was very favorable about the company’s services and responsiveness, but not very favorable about the product. Overall, I gave them a “B,” which I thought was more than fair, but the product was rated a “one.” Within 24 hours, I received an email from the supplier company owner noting they had not yet invoiced me—it had been two-and-a-half weeks since delivery—and asking if I would cancel the rating if I wasn’t charged. I must admit, this offer rubs me the wrong way, so I declined, saying that I may update the rating depending on what they said, but I would not cancel it. Am I off base? Isn’t that the purpose of a rating system? Did I drop the ball by not contacting them first?


So, if I’m understanding correctly, after the flashlights didn’t work, you didn’t contact the supplier? That would have been the first thing I would have done: to discuss with them and try to figure out a resolution. If they are a good supplier, they would want to know their product is faulty.

David Addi
Fired Up Promotions
Baltimore, Maryland


I think you should have contacted the supplier first. That being said, I would not cancel the rating. I would, perhaps, amend it depending on how they resolve the problem. Simply offering not to charge you is not a resolution; a resolution is some solution that gives you, and then your client, what was ordered—workable flashlights with a good imprint. Offering not to charge you is just buying the better rating. The product is still deserving of the low rating. You did the right thing by doing what you could to fix the situation. Been there, done that. If you think the no-charge is a good resolution, given that the event is probably over, and that you were able to fix most of the flashlights, then you might change the problem resolution to a higher rating, but leave the product rating as low. And don’t forget that you can rate the specific product on the product section online. Unfortunately you can’t (yet) leave a comment about the individual product rating, but at least you can rate it.

Jennifer Reissaus, MAS
Advertising Specialties Alliance/Kaeser & Blair
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania


I am a [manufacturer] in addition to a distributor. I would absolutely want someone to contact me before leaving a review if there was an issue. I want my customers to get a good product, and when something goes wrong, I absolutely stand behind it and try to fix it. In this case, you had a time crunch, so they may not have been able to ship new products. However, they might have discounted the order or something else upfront. It does sound like you are leaving a fair review of their service compared to the actual product, which I think is admirable. They order the flashlights from someone else, so there could be a bad batch occasionally that is missed. I would probably still leave the review if it’s genuinely fair and respectful. If it’s a really great company, it’ll take the review and still compensate you for your trouble. If not, you’ll know where they stand.

Allison Stivers
Stellar Customs, LLC
Houston, Texas


I would have called the supplier immediately. They probably don’t make the product, just decorate it, so it could have been a bad batch. The supplier should have had a chance to rectify the situation, and many can by reprinting the product immediately and overnighting it to you at no charge.

Maria Healy
Kreative Marketing, Inc.
Neptune Beach, Florida


I would have contacted the supplier before writing the review. It’s all about communication and business partnerships. We all make mistakes and battery life not only depends on how long the product sits on the shelf, but also the quality of the product. Even though I have purchased name-brand batteries, sometimes these don’t even last long enough in the package to use or reach their expiration dates. I’m not big on reviews in our industry, but if I review a company, it’s because it’s amazing or absolutely horrible. If you feel strongly about your review, then leave it as is. The one thing I don’t allow at my company is to be “bought” by any supplier. No one ever pays us for a review. You earn what you earn, and sometimes, that’s a bad review.

Gregg Taft
B Noticed
San Diego, California


A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: This week has proven challenging. I’ve lost three orders; two because the client did not like the samples received, and another order for printed water bottles, which I lost to a competitor. I know this is all part of the business, but it can certainly be frustrating. How do other distributors overcome the frustration from these kinds of losses?

What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name by August 15 to for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.  


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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