By Paul Pannone
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or a wedding planner named Samantha Goldberg getting a bad review on Wedding Wire. Samantha Goldberg keeps banging the drum against Wedding Wire and their system of ratings and reviews, rallying a growing number of discontented wedding vendors that feel her frustration.
Samantha Goldberg evened the score after being dismissed by Wedding Wire last year. Goldberg gets Sonny Ganguly to issue a statement in response to growing pressure she’s inflicting with her relentless exposure of flaws in the Wedding Wire system.
Her latest battle that began in 2011 has forced a statement from Sonny Ganguly who has continually skirted requests to say something– anything– about the matter. Ganguly replied to the mounting pressure surrounding a scammed customer that used a vendor on Wedding Wire.
“Thanks for sharing your concerns about this particular vendor. Let me address a couple points:
First, I want to be 100% clear on WeddingWire’s reviews policy: WeddingWire pulls down a review only if it violates our Review Policy, which can be found here www.weddingwire.com/shared/TermsOfUse in Section 13 and 14. Whether a vendor is paying or not has zero impact on this policy. Period.
Second, WeddingWire was created to help engaged couples make better, more informed decisions. That is why we have the reviews system itself, and why both positive and negative reviews are essential to helping engaged couples. And that is why we have left this account up on our site, so that these negative experiences can inform future brides and grooms.
Third, with regard to details on this particular vendor, she had a total of 10 reviews on our site. Eight reviews were flagged due to them being fraudulent; two were automatically removed by our system, and the other six were removed over 2 months ago as they were written from her computer (based on tracking IP address). There are currently 2 negative reviews remaining in the account, which are both from real newlyweds: EW Corp Reviews
It is our goal to provide a neutral platform for newlyweds to share their experiences. We take fraudulent behavior very seriously and have the algorithms and mechanisms in place to react quickly. I hope this addresses your questions.
Ganguly issued the statement after Goldberg went public with the story after months of back and forth pleading with Ganguly to consider revising the way Wedding Wire treats its vendors. Goldberg accuses the website of giving preferential treatment to paid listings and ignoring free ones.
But the statement did little more than piqué the interest of other Wedding Water Cooler members also included in the exchanges between Goldberg and Ganguly, raising more questions.
David Fuhrer, who blew the whistle on all wedding websites in 2010, questions Ganguly about the Wedding Wire practices:
“Out of curiosity & in the absolute interest of WW’s integrity & your assumed goal of transparency, allow me to pose the following inquiries for the enlightenment of all. In the interest of “your time” the most suitable means of response would most probably be to directly respond to each point (e.g. A, B, C). This will also allow for any vagueness to be alleviated as you will be responding to a direct inquiry of “how” WW performs these aspects for engaging the vendors who populate WW directories.
A) Does WW inform every vendor appearing upon the WW family of websites that they are indeed “listed” & are thus subject to reviews, be them positive or negative? These vendors are also subject to WW’s terms & conditions & the 100% litmus that WW must apply to all polices including the reviews, correct? By what means can a vendor “opt out”?
B) How does this communication with the Vendor occur? It isn’t a sales call, correct? You understand that a vendor could ignore a sales call. I’m certain given your “100% policies” that some form of e-mail confirmation that a vendor is being displayed is sent to a vendor, correct? The vendor then responds “okay” & that is their means of “opting in”, correct? Please provide a copy of that WW vendor verification email to this group.
C) Utilizing the “02420″ zip code & selecting Wedding Venues “near” that zip-code the WW “results” equate to 37 pages. The 1st page inclusive of the 2 “spotlight” listings possess an additional 22 “featured” listings for a total of 24 listings. The 2nd & 3rd pages include the 2 “spotlight” listings & have an additional 20 listings inclusive of photos, but not a “featured” connotation. The 4th page has the 2 “spotlight” listings and 7 more listings inclusive of photos. Thus in the first 4 pages of this specific search criteria 71 listings appear inclusive of photos (2 spotlight + 22 featured + 47 just photos). I assume these are all paying clients who have “opted in”, yes or no or “maybe”?
D) Picking up from page 4, an additional 13 listings appear inclusive of no photos, the name of the vendor, the town the vendor is located, a pinpoint for the vendor upon the Google map, and stars & reviews for that vendor. Pages 5-37 are inclusive of vendors denoted in the same format as referenced above & each page has 20 listed with page 37 having 3 listings. Thus the “non-photo” reviewed/ vendors for this specific search criteria equate to 143. The total non-photo reviewed vendors equals 156. The total vendors listed for this search criteria are 224.
E) Are all of the 156 non-photo reviewed/vendors aware they are on WW and subject to WW’s policies for reviews? Have these 156 vendors agreed to “opt in” to WW’s terms & conditions? Are these 156 vendors paying WW clients? If they are non-paying, how do they “opt out” of WW. I am assuming your 100% clarity on WW policies comment, that all of these 156 vendors have received a written notification that they are listed upon WW & subject to WW’s review policy, correct? (i.e. the email that I referenced which WW sends and requested that you copy this group upon…lets term it the “universal” WW opt-in subject to WW reviews & policies email…The group looks forward to your sharing it with us).
F) Just as an aside, how does WW’s radius search work? Some of the listings were for locations just short of 200 miles from the preferred “02420″ search criteria?
Thanks in advance for the copy of the WW email to vendors who have not “opted in”, and your responses to the above inquiries.”
Fuhrer and others in the Wedding Water Cooler say the Wedding Wire system is flawed; some even say that in an extreme case like this, where there is financial loss, Wedding Wire acts as a conduit between the customer and listed vendor, becoming culpable in the act of allowing the theft to happen. As a result, some are calling for Wedding Wire to compensate the bride (s) for any incurred losses.
Vendors reading the coverage give their opinions of why the give no relevance to wedding websites and rating systems. In various eWedNewz channels followers of the story are starting to speak out, including Justin Willison
“This is why I take no stock in review sites. 1 of 1000 happy customers leave a good review. 900 out of a 1000 unhappy people leave a review. Google local bridal shops. 90% of them have 2.5 stars out of 5 or less. All bridal shops are bad? I think not. I get 2-3 bad reviews a year. And 2-3 good ones a year. Out of 500+ wedding parties per year.
I know from the hundreds of thank you cards and gifts (even wedding invites) we get that 99.8% are happy. But google rates us about 80-85%.. if one in 5 people were unhappy we’d be bankrupt years ago. These sites are a joke and most offer paying vendors the abilty to remove bad ones. Most of the bad ones are lies anyway. Unreasonable people with unreasonable expectations. Im not saying this person wasnt scammed. Im juat saying what service does a review site provide?
It’s not an accurate portrayal of customer opinions because it is such a small group and people that are happy have no reason to review.
We have a pretty good rep… but we work hard for it.. we go the extra mile. when we make mistakes we lose money. we lose future customers, we lose referrals. believe me referrals are key. almost 50% of our business (200+ wedding parties of 425) this year is prior customers or referrals coming back. but if you google bridal shops near us.. most have bad reviews 1 star or 2 star out of 5. I know a lot of these shops owners personally. they are nice people and have well trained staff but people don’t care about others livelihood.
A lot of reviews come from buyers remorse, they feel bad from the money they spent, and want to take it out on someone after the fact. It seems as if the ones spending the least are expecting the most. A lot of times they want FREE alterations or to return things after the wedding. I’ve even got a bad review from a person mad I wouldn’t buy back her $800 dress for $500 (I could buy a new one for $400) Look on google at bridal shops near you. what do you see?
I often wonder how much stock do you take in reviews Paul Pannone? Google your favorite place, restaurant, theatre, store, Etc. look at the bad review… does it seem like something that would happen there? or does it seem like a person being petty? then look at a place you’ve never been to… skip the good ones and read that place’s bad review.. now how do you feel? If you feel different about the place you have been to than you do about the one you’ve never been to.. you’ll see my point. REVIEW SITES OFFER NOTHING to the business. do they offer a disservice to the customers? I THINK SO.”
I responded to Justin’s question saying, “Like all information reviews are a guide on the way to making a decision. They should be taken as such if they come from total strangers. Family, friend referrals or caution not to use a particular vendor rates higher than some website. Common sense applies.”
eWedNewz continues our coverage of this story and investigates how some market leaders pay no attention to Wedding Wire, Websites, rating systems or anything beyond simply giving customers the best consumer experience at a fair price to grow their business.
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