August 31, 2009

GetSatisfaction: Worse than I thought!

I've not been impressed by GetSatisfactions' basic premise - a feedback site that doesn't allow complaints, and is designed to make customer feedback seem positive even when it isn't.

But apparently, in the past, they've been a little shady in gathering clients.
They’ll use your logo, title the page “Customer service & support for [COMPANY NAME HERE]” and generally make it feel like an officially sanctioned place to get official support from the company in question. The problem: It’s not official at all. That’s misleading.

The heavy handed tactics used by Get Satisfaction seem to indicate that their long term plan is to own every company’s customer support experience – whether it has your permission or not. Google searches for “[COMPANY NAME] support” will end up linking people to a Get Satisfaction page. If that’s not the offical support home for that company, who winds up winning? It’s not the company. It’s not the customer. It’s really only in the best interest of Get Satisfaction.
-, an apparent victim of GetSatisfaction.
Here's the scam; they build a peer-support forum for your company on their website.  It identifies your company, including your logo, but it has no other links to your existing support sites.  There is a link for you to "claim" the support forum they started.  If you don't, they smear you with this lovely little disclaimer:

Pretty sleazy, huh?  You don't even know about this site, and you're getting blamed for not participating.

In the meantime, they will run ads from your competitor on "your" support forum until you cough up money.

Now, once 37signals caught them at it, GetSatisfaction claimed that it was a mistake;
Gosh, we messed up on the wording of that badge and are changing it pronto. The wording on that badge was actually intended to explicitly state that the space was NOT OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED by the company, but that doesn’t come off at all.
That's right, company co-founder Thor Muller actually said "Gosh."  And worse, a company professing to facilitate clear communication failed to see how the wording of their disclaimer appeared to blame whatever company the support page was dealing with for not cooperating.  Or so they say, anyway.  Personally, I don't buy it.

So they re-write their little badge:
“No one from [COMPANY NAME ] has sponsored, endorsed, or joined the conversation yet. ”
Note that it still appears to place the onus on the company, who very likely isn't aware that GetSatisfaction has put up a support forum for the company in question.

If there's one thing that GetSatisfaction is good at, it's spin. But as one GS user said on the GS weblog:
If you employ professional copy editors, it makes it more likely that the original language was calculated.
In a follow-up post, Jason Fried dissects the problems with the GetSatisfaction experience from the standpoint of a company that didn't know about this unauthorized support center.  It clearly illustrates the careful thought that went in to the design to convince the user that they were in a sanctioned support site.

They should follow truth in advertising and call themselves "GetSleazy."

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