SANFORD, N.C. -- Online reviews now pretty much go hand in hand with online shopping, but can too many reviews -- or the wrong review -- cost you your future as a consumer?
Melissa Meeks said she has been blacklisted for "just being honest" on several online reviews of Walmart's online grocery service, which she explains kept getting her orders wrong.
"It's never been about grocery pickup clerks. They're fantastic - personal, funny, sweet, always remember who you are," Meeks tells WTVD. "It's strictly about the one problem. You order something on their grocery pickup site and it says it's available and then you get to your delivery and it's not."
Walmart has given Meeks rebates and gift cards to remedy the situation, but Meeks said she has continued to fill out the automated surveys sent after each online order.
"I'm trying to give you feedback to fix the problem so that it makes it a better system for all of us. If my orders were completed the way they were supposed to be completed, I fill out positive feedback. That doesn't happen very often but it does happen."
Her last order, though, was abruptly canceled, and when Meeks asked a manager about it she was told that store management decided to cancel her account altogether.
"We want all of our customers to be satisfied, and we've tried our best to satisfy Ms. Meeks," Walmart spokeswoman Tara Alston said in an emailed statement. "Overall, customer satisfaction scores for grocery pickup are very high. It's a service we know our customers love as it saves them both time and money."
When it comes to telling customers not to shop at Walmart, Alston adds "It isn't a common occurrence to cancel a customer's online grocery pickup account, but the store has discretion to do this and is decided on a case-by-case basis. Ms. Meeks has been given gift cards, full order refunds, and free items in an effort to satisfy her."
U.S. Shoppers love submitting reviews
Meeks is hardly the only American consumer filling out surveys or leaving comments online.
According to Yelp, shoppers left more than 1 billion reviews in the last 12 months -- up 17% compared to last year.
As for what consumers are sharing reviews about, Yelp identifies Restaurants, Home and Local Services and Shopping as the top three categories.
The demographics of Yelp users are also spread quite evenly among generations: 33% between ages 18-34, 35% between ages 35-54 and 32% from people over 55.
"We're seeing more and more of if you're not happy, just leave a review," Jennifer Martin, of Shop Local Raleigh, laments to WTVD. "If there's a problem, you leave a negative review and I'll just ding them and give them that review."
Martin, who herself worked in retail for more than a decade, thinks the exponential growth of online shopping has also led to consumers' not having "realistic expectations."
"With the online giants of the world, we've created a society where we want it now, we want it instantly, we want it money back guaranteed and I don't know that that's a realistic expectation but that's something we need to figure out and decide."
First and foremost, Martin encourages customers who have complaints to share them in person or on the phone, and not simply through written text. Those interactions should also be respectful.
"We don't have to right away be angry or have short tempers because it's the holidays," she laments.
As for whether stores should "fire" customers, Martin maintains the bottom line for a business is the business' bottom line.
"Businesses are in existence to make money. They have to make money to sustain. If after a while a customer is costing you more money than you're making, that might be time to have that tough conversation. That maybe it's not a good fit, we're not a good fit for you and it may be time to find another business."
North Carolina Walmart blacklists customer for too many negative reviews
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