Please Help Stop 1 Star Rating Abuse (Game Plan Suggested)

The issue of abusing the item rating system by customers and competitors need to stop. Authors work extremely hard to earn their living here and to keep the 5 star rating become impossible when you can work for weeks to get like 10 x 5 star ratings and then one guy comes in and destroys all the effort with a single x 1 Star rating.

This is not a new issue. There have been quite a few threads on a similar topic where customers are trying to abuse by demanding FREE extended support or customization and some authors have also tried to use the system to hurt their competitors.

So far there was no real action plan or suggestion on how this can be stopped. But I have some suggestions to get this conversation to the next level.

We would really be grateful if you can give our feedback to your team that people should meet certain criteria for example:

The reviews and rating system should be inactive for authors unless:

  1. The user profile must is at least 90 days old. (Competitors will not be easily able to create new profiles just to buy and rate a product.)
  2. The user must have purchased the product at least 30 days ago to be able to leave a rating (especially 1 or 2 stars).
  3. If a user wants to leave a rating they must have a completed profile and it should reflect from where the profile was created as it seems users can create a profile sitting in India and select USA. Also, the contact form should be enabled as a lot of time there is no way to reach these users.
  4. User must provide a proof of what they say is true or that the support did not help. So incase we dispute the case we have enough proof to create proper case with envato support.
  5. If user leaves 1star review the author should automatically have the right to issue refund without the user’s submission. (Not sure if this will be ever possible but something to discuss)

Hope there is some feedback from all the authors and also from the community manager.

Thank you so much for your support.

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This is actually not a bad idea. I would love to see it implemented.

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I think it will work to at least some extent. Your first 3 points looks helpful but not sure about the last 2 points which doesn’t make sense much.

My suggestion for envato is: Until now we don’t see considerable purchases for support extensions. So it won’t be helpful for authors because most customers don’t like to pay for the support as they believe as it is authors responsibility for supporting their products. Instead, envato should consider yearly license renewal for all items across envato marketplace like Elements (at least for new items).

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  1. They just do it 90 days later.
  2. Why?
  3. No to the completed profile… seems a bit unfair. Yes to the location verification, although it;s not really going to make much difference to anything. No to the contact form… I hear far to many cases of ‘retribution’ and very unprofessional communications when a buyer dares to leave a less than perfect review
  4. That just goes against the whole ethos of feedback. It doesn’t work that way on other sites (Can you prove the lasagne was too salty?!) so it shouldn’t here. This would only work if the review is factually inaccurate, in which case, Envato will remove it anyway if asked to do so.
  5. I’ll go with that one. But this wouldn’t be like a normal refund I’m guessing… the buyer would still have an active license and support? I mean, you can’t force a refund which stops the buyer having access to the item.
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Actually they don’t. I have a 1 star review where the customer stated “You can not update this plugin after purchase.” which is ridiculous, but still the Envato Support said: “This is the user experience”.

This is just one of the examples I can give on the matter and while most users reading the reviews understand that they are not actually true and still buy our items, the low rating hurt the image of the item and the author.

Do you have proof that this buyer was able to update the plugin prior to him leaving the review?

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This user was using 2 years old version of the plugin and to update to the version where we added Auto Update feature he had to follow a procedure that is explained in the item documentation. He did not. This caused the problem.

Also he rated like 5 mins before contacting our support and I remember that morning very well :slight_smile:

Recently i had a customer who bought HTML template. He admitted that he doesn’t know HTML and asked to provide some basic information. I told him that i am not obligated to provide HTML training. I got 1 star from him. I contacted Envato and asked to remove it, because this rating has nothing to do with the template or support. Guess what i was told? This is a customer experience.

Another one with the reason “I thought it’s a Wordpress theme, not HTML template”. And guess what? The rating is still there.

I had a conversation on that matter with envato support and they confirmed - if i buy Wordpress template and give 1 star rating just because it’s not a Drupal theme, this is considered a valid reason.

Everyone seems to be missing off the ‘factually inaccurate’ part when they’re quoting me for some reason… they won’t remove anything if you just ask them to.

Instance 1: Poor customer service.

Instance 2: Can you prove that he knew it was a HTML Template?

Sure, they’re stupid reasons for low reviews and I can completely understand why you wouldn’t be very happy with them, but if somebody buys something here, then they have the right to leave a review. And they can leave whatever kind of review they like… as long as it’s not factually inaccurate.

Oh wow, okay. I’m done here.

  1. Are you serious? Poor customer service? Do i need to teach him how to use HTML, how to change paths to files if he moves them around, how to add styles, explain what is class names and id’s? Why on earth should i do that? If i buy a car, i don’t ask car manufacturer to teach me driving!

  2. The template sells in HTML Templates category, description clearly says it’s an HTML template. I don’t care about the rest. I can understand situation when i have both versions and people wants to buy WP version, but buy HTML version of the same product.

HTML is not a Wordpress. I don’t have to teach anyone. Mistaken purchase is not a valid reason for refund. Sale reversal after 7 months of purchase is a bullsh*t. But who cares.

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Completely agree, but we’re talking about reviews not refunds.

It’s not what you should or shouldn’t do with regards to training… it’s how you delivered the information. If you seriously said “I am not obligated to provide HTML training” then yes, that is poor customer service.

Would it have been so hard to have said something along the lines of “Hey Jim-Bob, thanks for getting in touch. Instructions specific to the template are included in the download files, but if you’re just starting out in HTML and are looking for a decent foundation to work from… then I’d recommend the training courses over on learnhtml.com. They have a wide range available from beginners, through intermediate and pro users, so they should help get you up and running in no time. Thanks!”

Recently, I received a refund request. It was 4 a.m. where I live, I usually sleep at that hour :slight_smile: so I only saw it next morning, at 10 a.m.

The refund request said “I just do not want to use the plugin anymore”.
The user never asked for support.

The very next moment, I noticed I also have a new 1 star rating. Surprise, it was from the same user. He left a 1 star rating immediately after the refund request, to practically force me to give the refund.

I approved the refund, now the 1 star rating went away too.

I navigated to themeforest.net/user/the_user to see the user’s profile and to my surprise it was a 7 level (earnings) user, without items to sell. You would think that this should be a serious buyer, right?

So, long story short, you can expect this bad behavior from authors too, unfortunately, not only from buyers only.

3 Likes

So basically blackmail is tolerated?

I never said that. Also, please note that I am only helping with forum moderation, I am not part of official Envato team.

What would you do in case like that? Denying the refund and leaving also the 1 star malicious rating?

To me, it was a surprise, I thought at least we, the authors, respect each others and know how ratings/refunds work.

Later edit: and to keep the things constructive and positive, yes, I also think that in some cases, the buyers should not have the right to rate anymore an item. But these cases will have to be analyzed well.

Some people just want to see the world burn but I can assure you Envato will keep our back in the case of blackmailing (refund -> negative rating scenarios). Been there, done that.

I agree with points 1 & 4. There must be an email/ticket/comment proof of the claim.

I’d keep the review section as is and instead I’d limit refund periods - you can’t ask for a refund after 9 months, it’s ridiculous - we’re talking about digital items here. Should be 90 days to keep everyone happy.

Well, the way you solved the problem make it look like it :slight_smile:

I approved the refund not because of the 1 star rating, I would have approved it anyway, just because I do not want to have such customers. Someone who tells “I do not want to use it anymore” clearly does not want to understand or follow market rules. I simply do not want customers like this, I prefer to have only honest buyers and keep them.

It would be great if buyers would have badges and reviews too :wink:

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Well last week I got a refund request from someone purchased the plugin before 2 years with the reason "a very bad plugin. Please return my money. " … oh and by the way it is an Elite Author (level 7 badge) with no items for sale… Not going to happen.

That was the end of story. Of course i have suggested to read documentation, explained everything RELATED to the template and after a few messages i mentioned that i can’t be responsible for his skillset. He considered it as a personal offence. I spent 2 weeks writing very detailed documentation, answered ALL comments, Envato implemented search in comments section etc. But i still need to be very polite, because some users are extremely lazy to open and read docs. This is not a poor customer service, this is “you owe me” and “you HAVE to help me”. This is not hard to be polite, but when user starts blaming you for no reason, i don’t care about further politeness. Especially when they rate 1 star and then writing you “Okay, i will give you the second chance”-like message. Do you still think it’s fair?