Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This new product is in the form of a website that lists and rates products that you bought according to a predefined set of criteria. I envisage the website as a tool that people would be able to use in order to make smarter purchases. If I wanted to buy a new watch for example, I would be able to search the BlackList website and if the watch didn't appear there, I'd be a little more confident in my future purchase. This obviously wouldn't replace conventional product reviews, which are essential for making well-informed smarter purchases, but it would complement them. BlackList would save you the hassle of searching for that not-so-positive product review that can be so informative and is usually buried under numerous positive reviews. As a person who has made many a bad purchase, I started looking for such a site and was surprised to find absolutely no such thing. Not even one! The closest thing I found was in a ChinaDaily article claiming that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology plans to "draw up a blacklist displaying the names of those firms breaching quality-related regulations" (click here to view the article).

Sometimes, purchasing a dud product can be so unequivocally frustrating that all you want to do is make sure 'they' (the product's manufacturer) suffer. Other times, when you're in a more positive and sane state of mind, it's just bloody annoying. Either way, with BlackList, you could make a difference. BlackList would be beneficial to us consumers for many reasons, including:
  • Helping other people avoid the unfortunate experience of purchasing a dud.
  • Improving consumer awareness.
  • Rewarding good products that don't appear on the website.
  • Punishing bad products that do appear on the website by sharing our experiences and preventing others from making similar purchases.
  • Knowledge sharing for more a more enlightened society.
  • And punishing those bad products again.
Due to the legal problems associated with public badmouthing, the BlackList's product rating and listing system would need to be automated so as not to make the website owner liable for the blacklist in any way. For example, entering a new product in the site would open a form with the following fields: Manufacturer, Product name and model, Primary reason for blacklisting (dead on arrival, does not work as advertised, breaks down every day/week/month, requires constant servicing, no customer support, no spare parts, appears to be used, and so on), Secondary reason for blacklisting (same as above), Other (short free text), Get it off your chest (free text describing your experience). Each field would then be assigned a score out of 10, for example, Primary reason for blacklisting – dead on arrival = 10; Primary reason for blacklisting – breaks down every day = 9; Secondary reason for blacklisting – any = 1. When a final score is calculated, the website's database would be searched for the same product, according to manufacturer and product name and model, and would be added to the grand total. The 100 highest scoring products would then be listed on the blacklist. A further precaution could be added to only list products with over a certain number of entries. A disclaimer could be included in the form stating that the person filling out the form is solely responsible for the information contained therein and to the accuracy of that information.

When buying a new product, check the BlackList first. I know I would. Marketing wouldn't be a problem once a large enough online community makes use of BlackList. Manufacturers that don't appear on BlackList would be more than happy to use this as an advertising gimmick. Even those that do appear on the list could use that information as a wake-up call for improving. Proven steps taken by companies on the blacklist to alleviate their products' problems could even be used a tool to remove them from the site, or at least scale down their products' prominence on BlackList. It would be a great day indeed when one of my new ideas or new product innovations makes it onto or off BlackList!


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