Hell hath no fury like a disappointed customer.
But reviewers are not upset about the products they are commenting on but with the activities of the business owners. MyPillow CEO and founder Mike Lindell has been a public supporter of former President Donald Trump, whose term ended Wednesday upon President Joe Biden’s inauguration. As has Ryan, who was charged in the Capitol riots, according to the Washington Post.
The MyPillow CEO, who continues to push false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, is facing reviews on Amazon that are not favorable.
These retailers are dropping MyPillow:J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair and Macy’s lists product as ‘out of stock’
In the customer question-and-answer section on the MyPillow product page, several customers left what was more commentary among themselves about Lindell’s connection to Trump and the spread of unfounded claims that incited some to violence Jan. 6.
“Is it great for fascists?” one question poses with multiple answers including:
“Very. Wake up refreshed before you go out to commit treason,” from a customer called “DW” on Wednesday.
And another customer added on Wednesday, “Yes, it great for burning down a town or city. Can be used to silence someone voice both physically and mentally with the opinions you don’t agree with.”
And in the comments section, the negative reviews continued, including one from verified purchaser “Mr D H Thomas” on Jan. 16.
“These pillows prevent me from sleeping well at night,” Mr. D H Thomas wrote. “They seem to affect my conscience. Every time I put my head on them, I close my eyes and start dreaming about the company’s CEO perpetuating conspiracy theories and speaking directly with our nation’s president in an effort to somehow meddle with our government.”
Other reviewers did add their thoughts on the product, leaving an apolitical comment such as Stephen R. Devoy’s, which noted that even the cat wasn’t impressed.
On Yelp, MyPillow is listed as “being monitored by Yelp’s Support team for content related to media reports” with its reviews temporarily disabled.
But the reviews go beyond Amazon and Yelp. They’ve started to pop up on retailers’ sites that have carried MyPillow, too.
A one-star review dated Jan. 16 on Macys.com titled “Pillow for Seditious Traitors” said it was a “great pillow when dreaming about imposing Martial law when you’re ur candidate losed [sic].”
Lindell told USA TODAY that he believes the reviewers were not made by actual customers but instead were written by people have been hired to take down MyPillow.
“They’re fake people. They’re not real – they’re paid to do that,” he said, noting that he has not read the reviews.
Lindell added that he’s been attacked on multiple other occasions including one instance in which he presented a new COVID cure. He said that he’s not worried about MyPillow, detailing that more than 50 million people have his pillow.
Yelp deactivates comments
Like MyPillow’s Lindell, Ryan’s Yelp page for her real estate business has had its comments deactivated.
“This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news rather than actual consumer experiences with the business,” an alert that pops up upon opening Ryan’s Yelp page reads.
Before commenting was disabled, though, some users took to her comment section.
“This woman is a traitor to America and to democracy,” wrote Traci F. on Jan. 17. “She flew a private jet to DC and stormed the Capitol on January 6 2021. She says she deserves a pardon. She deserves federal prison. That’s all she deserves.”
Traci F.’s review continued that “if you’re a true American like me and think what these terrorists did was a punishable crime then do not do business with this woman.”
Another Yelp user, Susan H., commented too, noting she had consulted Ryan about selling her condo.
“I talked to her about selling my condo, but she wouldn’t wear a mask, so I felt unsafe,” Susan wrote on Jan. 17. “Also, she wouldn’t shut about about how much she adored Trump and hoped he would become president for life. She asked if I supported him and when I said I did not, she started swearing at me!”
Brenae Leary, spokesperson for Yelp, told USA TODAY that the platform’s mission is to connect consumers with local businesses by giving Yelp users access to reliable information.
“Consumer trust is our top priority, which is why we take significant measures to maintain the integrity and quality of the content on our site,” she said.
“To ensure reviews are reliable and useful to the community, reviews on Yelp must be based on an actual first-hand consumer experience with the business,” Leary continued. “When a business gains public attention, consumers often come to Yelp to express their views on the news.”
Those reviews made when a business is in the news deflate or inflate a business’ rating. So, Yelp labels those instances.
“As part of our Consumer Alerts program, if there’s a surge in review volume sparked by media attention we may publish an Unusual Activity Alert and temporarily disable the ability to post reviews, even in situations where we might agree with the views expressed in some reviews,” Leary explained.
After activity surrounding the business in question has slowed or stopped, moderators remove the alert and clean up the page so that only reviews from users who have actually experienced the business remain.
Customers using reviews to take down businesses is not new
In the months after George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, an increasing number of reviewers were warning fellow users of racist conduct at local businesses, Yelp told USA TODAY in October.
At the time, the platform announced plans to pick up where watchdog users left off with the launch of a consumer alert that flags businesses accused of racist behavior. The move was meant to give patrons “reliable” and actionable information while holding business owners accountable for their actions, the platform said in October.
Those alerts are a part of the Consumer Alerts Program, similar to alerts flagging unusual activity such as on the MyPillow and Jenna Ryan real estate Yelp pages which are instated because of the spike of activity on their pages due to their place in the news, Leary told USA TODAY Wednesday.
On Yelp, a business’ star rating can be artificially inflated or deflated by users or activists leaving reviews for stores they’ve never been to.
This type of scenario played out in 2012 after a pizza parlor owner hugged President Barack Obama and ignited social media responses from people on both sides of the aisle. Some posted one-star reviews on the restaurant’s page attacking the owner. Others left five-star reviews in his defense.
A similar incident occurred in 2018 after the arrest of two Black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks.
The notice isn’t unfamiliar territory.
For years, Yelp has placed “unusual activity” alerts on business pages that have received increased public attention, usually stemming from an onslaught of media coverage.
Retailers are taking action, too
Retailers have stopped selling MyPillow products, which Lindell has said is part of a backlash against his company.
Lindell said Monday several stores have told him they’d stop selling his products including Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair and Texas supermarket chain H-E-B.
People have flocked to social media to put pressure on stores carrying MyPillow to drop the brand.
J.C. Penney confirmed to USA TODAY on Wednesday that it, too, will stop selling MyPillow and a listing on Macy’s website for the MyPillow Classic Medium Pillow Collection noted it was out of stock and had a message noting it “may not be available again.”
Macy’s didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment, but J.C. Penney said it made its decision to discount the products last summer “due to decreased customer demand.”
“Following our usual procedures for discontinued merchandise, remaining store inventory will be marked down until the assortment is sold out, at which point it will not be restocked,” J.C. Penney said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Lindell created the MyPillow in 2004 and built the business in Chaska, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis, said he doesn’t regret his election claims or his support of Trump, who he said he first met in 2016.
Contributing: Kelly Tyko, Dalvin Brown USA TODAY, The Associated Press