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Jennifer Marks

Does Talking Back Pay Off?

Psssst…They're talking about you.

When HTT relaunched its website five months ago, we added a feature called TalkBack, which allows readers to append comments beneath individual stories. Those comments are displayed on our homepage (www.hometextilestoday.com) under a tab labeled “TalkBack.”

We've really done nothing to promote the feature, and initially, it was little used. Over the past couple of months, however, it seems to have become sounding board for consumers as well as members of the trade.

Cathy from Wallingford, Conn., loves the Anchor Home Aqua Dry kitchen towels she bought in Maine and is looking for more.

Maryanne in Hudson, N.Y., wants to know how she can get a copy of the Bergdorf Goodman home catalog.

Toni, who lives on Shorefront Parkway in an indeterminate city, wants to replace the flat sheet that came in the set she bought at Bed Bath & Beyond. The fitted sheet and cases are fine.

Aimee in Columbus, Ohio, is looking for a queen-sized Abbey Hill Medallion bedding set because her local Kmart is out of stock on that item. Michele in Monroe, La., posts advice to Aimee: call the Kmart in Natchez, Miss., as that location is in stock on both king and queen Medallion sets.

There are, of course, complaints (“It seems to be the American Way To Go these days — liquidate — liquidate — liquidate.”) and warnings to other consumers (“Don't bother buying them if you want a true black-out. They may block out 75% of sun in the middle of the day, not 99% as they claim.”).

Consumers, I think, end up at HTT because there's nowhere else for them to go. Few suppliers operate consumer-oriented websites. Among those that do, I've never seen a public area that allows consumers to comment on products and/or converse with each other. (If I'm wrong, please let me know. Post a comment on TalkBack!)

Among the volume retailers, Target is the only one I know of that encourages consumers to post reviews of its products — creating a public forum. Target also deserves kudos for leaving negative reviews in place.

In an era when consumers expect to be heard, why are so many companies closing the door on them?

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