Is it just me, or are online retailers getting a bit pushy with their guilt-inducing emails, begging for a good review – or at the very least, a chance to make things better with an unsatisfied customer?

Certainly, it’s a genius marketing move, to establish personal and direct contact via email, before a disappointed customer gets their itchy, little fingers in front of a keyboard to fire off a very public put-down. But nowadays some of them are going overboard to check on my satisfaction and plead shamelessly for a positive review.

I get it. I really do. I’ll always contact a company directly and give them a chance to make things right before I publicly post anything negative. And I have to say, the vast majority of them do what’s right before anything goes public.

But we need to rein in these pleas for positive marks. I received three emails from someone named Pascal last week, asking me about my experience ordering two boxes of Swiffer refills. Really, Pascal? Swiffers? Should I also review my paper towel and laundry soap purchases? Would that help you out, given that you are, after all, a “small, family-run company.” Yeah, sure you are.

I’m sorry, but I refuse to write what amounts to a thank-you note every time a company does its part in our agreed-upon transaction. I ordered something; you shipped it; I received it on time and in working order. That’s it. That’s where things should end, at least for some of the more common household items.

Of course, I’m happy to write an honest and hopefully helpful review of a new or untried product.

But things are getting out of hand with the fake personal connections. While it is brilliant, a personal email request from an earnest employee named Pascal, who wants only to make me a happy customer? That carries serious weight with all of us who grew up in thank-you-note households.

These ever-emerging techno tactics demonstrate the terrific – and yet terrifying — power of online comments, reviews, surveys and any other form of feedback that gives a voice to and provides an audience for people who really shouldn’t be allowed to speak – at least not to other people. (I envision many of them talking to one or more of their cats, and that’s fine.)

Never have words been more weaponized than they are in today’s world of reviews and rankings. And never has that power been wielded by so many unqualified, misinformed and mean-spirited people with nothing better to do than make others feel bad.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Stan’s new socks arrived today, and Pascal is awaiting my response.

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