It’s been a strange couple weeks.

warning-838655_1280I have had a strange couple of weeks with Amazon.    They first determined that they were going to delete some Vine member reviews, apparently they had too many Vine reviews on some products and wanted to make way for some other customer reviews. My first thought was that if they didn’t want so many reviews, why send out so much product to be reviewed? While my reaction was one of “Ok, whatever”, some Vine members were angry about it, their stance being they spent so much time on these reviews only to have them deleted seems like a huge waste, and also they were angry about all the positive votes being lost on deleted items.  The latter is a good point, but still… not anything that was going to affect me too much either way.  I find that my Vine reviews don’t get as many up-votes as my non Vine reviews (with a few exceptions).

The next issue that came up did hit me a bit harder.   All but 5 of my most recent reviews vanished.   I had over 1,500 reviews.   My ranking was still in tact, but the reviews were gone, and so were all the positive up-votes.   This was a bit of a shock to my system.   I reached out to Amazon to inquire about it.   Two days later I got a message from the review department saying they were reinstating all the reviews and offering an apology for the inconvenience.

Then, a few days after that my review ranking went from being in the top 500, down to 179,058, and I lost my top reviewer badge.   That is a bigger jump than I have ever had, and quite a demotion!    This ranking stayed in place for 3 days but mysteriously refreshed again and I was reinstated back to my prior ranking complete with my old badge.

Not sure what is happening over at Amazon, but it seems that they are further tweaking their reviewing system and stats.

 

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I’m picky.

pickyIt’s true I’m picky about a lot of things, and I’ve become especially picky about reviews I choose to accept, and now that Amazon has changed it’s reviewing policy on non-Vine reviews the whole landscape of reviewing has changed – shifting to sites other than Amazon.  Let me share with you my previous criteria for accepting reviews.   It used to be, if I felt I could use it or if it was a product I had a great deal of knowledge about already – I reviewed it.   No other criteria mattered.  That was it.

Now however, things are a bit different.   Considering I do have another job that actually pays the bills, I thought it best to limit the reviews I was taking on so that I do only 1 or 2 each day.  My second criteria is to look at the item and determine how many other people are reviewing it and where.   If it’s an item under $20 and they already have a lot of positive reviews on it, chances are they are sending them out to hundreds of people.    I’m not necessarily interested in having my review lost in the mix.

My third criteria is that I don’t accept items where there are a lot of strings attached.   It’s one thing for the seller to request a video or photo review, which I happily comply with because I would have probably done that anyway…. but when they give me a word count that I have to meet on their site, or that I have to like them on Facebook or any number of things- I get a bit put off.   These aren’t big deals necessarily, but they are just hoops I don’t care to jump through.  Easy come easy go is the philosophy I have developed, and it really helps.

Being picky is a good thing for a reviewer.   It enables you to do things on your terms, and ultimately I would argue, makes for better reviews.

 

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Vacation Holds

2016-06-13 16.04.11If you  get a lot of things online (review or otherwise), but also go on vacation frequently – that poses a problem.   Packages can pile up unattended and as we all know package theft is on the rise.  But what can you do?   Everyone already knows about mail service hold (and if you don’t – learn more here), but not everyone knows you can put a hold on UPS and FedEx package delivery.

UPS has a straight forward vacation hold system.   Check it out online here.  To use their system you must first become a “My Choice” member (which is free).  You can login with an email address or a Facebook account.   Once registered, you can use their vacation hold, schedule text alerts, re-route packages and all sorts of useful things.

FedEx also has a vacation hold system called “Delivery Manager”.   Check it out online here.  You can use it not only to hold packages when you are away, but you can also redirect packages to a new address (just like UPS).   So if you were, for instance, going to be visiting your grandmother for an extended period, you could have packages re-directed to your granny’s home while there.   With their Delivery Manager system you can also leave instructions for every day deliveries, for instance “Leave on front porch” or “Put inside garage door”.

 

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Impossible to buy for people

Do you have “impossible to buy for” people on your Christmas shopping list?  Maybe it’s a teen, or a father in law, doesn’t matter we all have these hard to buy for people on our lists.  I have some on mine.   Let me give you some inspiration to help find ideas for those hard to buy for people!

If you have no idea what stuff they like, try these:

  • Food gift baskets.  These can be purchased or homemade.   Themes can be chocolate, salty snacks, fruits, popcorn, wine, candy… really anything.  Just grab a large basket and fill it!
  • If you know they volunteer or have an interest in a cause, consider making a donation to that cause in their name.
  • Gift certificates to restaurants or stores near their home.

If they already have everything, and you need something unique:

No one knows what to buy a teen, but these might work: