Don't Blindly Trust Customer Reviews
Customer reviews on websites can help you select reliable services and products, but dust off your detective skills before blindly trusting a review. Some companies pay pretend customers (called shills) to forge reviews in order to lure consumers into buying their products or services. The practice is known as online review fraud, and it can be difficult to spot.
Follow these suggestions to identify a fraudulent review:
* Read beyond ratings.
Many review sites use stars or letter grades to rate products and services. But a product that boasts a perfect rating could have earned that status based on false reviews, so read through each one carefully.
* Pay attention to language.
Does a review sound more like a marketing pitch than a genuine opinion? Review shills often write in an overly elaborate style to “sell” a product. Steer clear of reviews that contain language your average person wouldn’t use.
* Look at a reviewer’s history.
It’s not enough to read one review by one reviewer. If a reviewer has only written one review, only writes about one company or product category, or repeats the same language throughout multiple reviews, be cautious.
* Don’t believe extremes.
Be wary of reviews that are completely positive and mention no downsides. Real reviewers generally discuss pros and
cons. Similarly, take overly negative reviews with a grain of salt.
* Notice the details.
A large number of reviews posted around the same time could signal a fake, unless the reviews were posted near the product’s release date or the launch of a new service.
Also be on the lookout for reviews that repeat a product or service’s full name, model number, and other specific identifying information multiple times. Shills often use this tactic to improve search-engine results.
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