Woman holding phone by Mad Fish Digital
As the internet has become a bigger part of our lives, we have become more likely to rely on online product reviews to learn about new products and products that we are unfamiliar with. While many reviews are posted by good-intentioned consumers who have actually bought the product and are giving their honest opinion, many more reviews have been gamed in a number of ways to give a product a better or worse rating than it deserves. This has made the whole online product review ecosystem suspect. Here are five reasons you should not trust product reviews.
1. Some Businesses Use Employees To Boost Their Review Results
As good online reviews have become more important to businesses, some businesses have decided to boost their review results by having their employees provide positive online reviews of their products and services. In addition to making the business look more attractive to potential customers, this can also boost the results for the business on the search engines so potential customers will be more likely to find and go to their website.
2. Some Businesses Pay Strangers To Review Products They’ve Never Seen
There is a brisk business in paying strangers to provide reviews for products that they have never seen or touched. These professional “reviewers” give glowing product reviews to anyone that pays them, regardless of the actual quality of the product they are reviewing. Because these are real people making real entries for products that actually exist, it can be difficult for moderators to catch that the reviews are fake.
3. Some Businesses Deliberately Sabotage Competitors’ Online Reviews
Another of the major reasons you should not trust product reviews is that some companies have no issues with creating fake negative reviews to drive down the ratings and the search results of their competitors. Online reviews can be very difficult to remove from the online space, even if they have been proven to be false, so spamming a company with negative reviews can really hurt its competitiveness in the industry. Some companies have even been driven out of business under the weight of negative online reviews.
4. Some Businesses Offer Incentives For Good Reviews
Some businesses have found that it is easy to offer consumers an incentive in the form of a freebie or a discount in order to influence the reviews these customers provide. A story published in the New York Times showed how a company offered to reimburse customers for some purchases in exchange for posting a review of that product on Amazon. As expected, the company’s reviews were overwhelmingly positive.
5. Certain Businesses Can Block Bad Reviews
Some businesses that make a customer sign an agreement for services can effectively block the posting of negative reviews by inserting a clause into the contract prohibiting the customer from posting negative information about the business online. If the customer violates this clause and posts something negative about the business online or on social media, they can be sued and held liable for damages to the business.
There are good reasons you should not trust product reviews or believe everything you read on the internet. It is too easy for fake information to be planted and too hard for fake information to be spotted and removed. The best course of action is to get information from several different sources, then use your own judgment to make a final determination.
Toi Williams began her writing career in 2003 as a copywriter and editor and has authored hundreds of articles on numerous topics for a wide variety of companies. During her professional experience in the fields of Finance, Real Estate, and Law, she has obtained a broad understanding of these industries and brings this knowledge to her work as a writer.