Last month, i bought a little keyboard on Amazon. It looked a bit like a toy. Plastic, blue, white chiclet keys. Simple, really. I got it, tried it out, and it worked. Mostly.
Pressing the keys was difficult. They needed to be caught at a certain angle so they could be pressed in. And you had to press hard. Not the sort of keyboard you want if you are a writer.
It also has a weird layout. The top right key is not backspace but “=”, causing many typos, and some commonly used keys, such as the apostrophe, are hidden behind a key combination.
Given it cost me £28 and offered a very poor experience as far as keyboards go, i decided to write a review on the site i bought it: Amazon.
A week later, I got an email from the seller, asking me what they could do to make me happy, and that the problem i had experienced with the keys was a one in a thousand occurrences. They even offered to send me a refund.
I told them that if their claims are true, and they do have keyboards that work well, then I would much prefer a replacement keyboard to get my work done. If, however, all keyboards are alike, a refund would be preferred, as my problem would have remained unsolved with a new keyboard.
This morning, i got an email telling me i had received a refund. This was from amazon.
There was also an email from the seller. They were asking me to take the review down.
what to do?
Given my problem was “resolved”, and I am now in the same financial position as before the original transaction, it would be tempting to take the money and delete the review, as if nothing had happened.
But I would like to argue that doing so would be unethical. I am stretching the limits of the word, but I do believe that it is my responsibility to share the information i now have about the product. Witholding this information, especially following a payment, makes my conscience twitch.
If i delete the review, these guys might sell more malfunctioning keyboards to other unwitting people.
I am fairly knowledgeable in tech. I knew i was doing the equivalent of putting £28 on black at the roulette table.
Someone buying this as a gift for a friend, a niece, or a spouse, might find themselves in a bad situation, which could have been avoided if I had shared what I know. Others shared, and that gave me confidence.
The odd thing is that the keyboard seemed to have very good reviews, at first glance. If you look more closely you’ll see that a lot of those reviews are for NFC tags or other products instead. I’m not sure what’s going on there, Amazon.
So i cannot take the review down. I am going to amend it to highlight that they took financial responsibility for the flaws of the product, but I will also say that it has been amended, following a specific request to remove it with which my conscience could not abide.
This is the second article i have written in less than a month about ethics and the internet. The first was about the ethics of web design.
I hope others are pondering the same things.