$1.44 Dispute Reveals Billions at Stake in Online Customer Feedback

"Every company is going to have issues, but how is a company going to respond in an open and transparent way? How do you reflect a more accurate reflection of your customer's experience," Federman said. "Instead of living in constant fear that negative feedback will harm online reputation and goodwill, we have embraced negative feedback and tried to start customer dialogue."

For example, early last week, the site listed a "credit card" utility pocketknife, which is the size of a credit card.

A customer who said he was a law enforcement officer posted a comment explaining his disappointment that the company would sell an item "that criminals can easily hide."

"As a result of you selling this product, I will no longer be your customer, and will be spreading the word, via word of mouth, and social media, for people to stop buying from your website," the customer stated.

In response, 1SaleADay asked customers in its own Facebook post what customers thought about the sale of the item without disclosing the identity of the customer who complained.

Within 24 hours, the company received over 750 "substantive" comments.

"What we found most striking -- even thought the vast majority of consumers thought it was acceptable to sell this type of product which is also sold by Sears and Walmart -- even those who agreed that it shouldn't be sold appreciated the fact that we asked for customers' feedback," said Federman.

The company made a "significant" number of sales during that time period, he said, "because customers really responded very well, even though we were critical of ourselves. But people respected that honest and critical self-reflection."

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