After numerous dud clothing and household purchases, here is why I am skeptical of product reviews and why I now take them with a grain of salt.
Dud jewelry, clothing household appliances (that can burn your house down), restaurants (if you want a dose of food poisoning), computers, and books all have amazing online reviews, that are just not worth taking any notice of. In fact some are complete garbage.
Discovering Fake Reviews
When reviewing ratings we tend to look at the number of stars a product has and look at maybe a couple of the first reviews below them.
I was looking at an app I had once used the free version of.
It had a 4.6-star rating on Shopify which uses the Trustpilot rating software.
When buying stuff online I look at the reviews and am naturally skeptical.
Physical products I can generally pick if they will be worth buying.
Buying apps and other software you are more or less relying on the reviews.
The first 3 or 4 reviews of this app I was looking at were 5-star, so I thought this is good.
Then I thought holdup… the 5-star reviews were from people who had only used the product for 2 or 3 days.
My experience with the free version told me they hadn’t even scratched the surface.
Plus there were a few 2-word 5-star reviews that told me absolutely nothing.
“Great app“… “Really?”
I took a closer look at all the app reviews and wrote an article about it.
Related Article Here.
Not a very flattering one I am afraid.
The reviews were managed by Trustpilot which is used by many online companies.
Even I rely on Trustpilot ratings for many of the reviews I have on this site.
Let’s take a quick look at Trustpilot.
Can Trustpilot be Trusted?
I will say Yes! I found their lower-rated reviews to be directly related to the product.
The higher-rated ones were mixed, with user experiences and some that appeared to be fake.
I normally do searches through the Better Business Bureau as a backup, as well as checking Reddit, and Quora if it was applicable.
So combining the four together I feel I get a good overview of how a company is performing.
After reviews of the product in this article, I was concerned realizing some of the positives were fake, and feeling disappointed because it was a product I liked.
Then thinking about other articles I have done using ratings from Trustpilot, I wondered if I had gotten them wrong.
After a while of checking reviews of Trustpilot, I am happy that it is legit, and that the research I did is factual.
Although there were some deficiencies, none would convince me that Trustpilot is not legit.
I have been online enough to know that all you read and sometimes what you see is not honest.
Here are some tips.
How to Spot Fake Reviews
7 types of reviews to be wary of, or to ignore completely.
Fake reviews skew the star rating so it is best to ignore them and read through the reviews.
- 5-star reviews gushing with praise. This is often not experience but perception.
- 5-star two or 3-word reviews. The Best Service, Game changer, Excellent support, Great looking item, etc.
- Look at the dates of the reviews posted. If there are a lot of reviews on one day and very few on either side of those, then they could be paid reviews or a person with different profiles.
- 1-star reviews. Are they malicious or talking from experience? Comments like, Useless, Stay away, but giving no experience with the product should be ignored. Please read them carefully.
- Use of brand names. If you see a brand name in the review then possibly someone is looking at keywords to get a bump up in the Google results (for example: “Strafrit Rotato Electric Potato Peeler” when other people would most likely say “electric potato peeler“).
- The offer of a substantial gift card or some other inducement for leaving a “positive” review.
- Reviews that give a lot of technical details. Most users are only concerned with how the product performs for them rather than talking about the centrifugal dynamics, etc. of the product development.
Related Article Here
How Common are fake reviews?
It was estimated in one 2021 analysis reported by CNCB that over 30% of reviews on sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy are fake.
Others have it at over 40%.
I believe it is closer to 30% rather than 40%.
On e-commerce sites like Wish, or Aliexpress, it is likely to be much higher.
Amazon, the internet’s biggest retailer is one that is often subjected to complaints about fake reviews.
Fake reviews generally follow the same format regardless of the platform.
Although Amazon has a verified review system where a purchaser can leave a review, it is easy to get around and leave fake positive reviews.
All a seller has to do, is pay some friends to buy his product on the condition they leave a 5-star review (the smart-ones ask for a 4.4–4.6-star review).
Because the friends all bought the product, Amazon classifies their reviews as verified.
This can happen on any e-comm site actually, including eBay.
There have been instances of companies offering Amazon sellers batches of paid positive reviews.
There was also a report on an Amazon supplier who leaked data through an open server – where it is apparent the supplier gives a full refund directly to their PayPal account if the user leaves a 5-star review.
Amazon is aware of these and is trying to kill these scams that obviously corrupt the reliability of the whole reviewing process (they recently obtained a judgment against one of those companies).
In this report, they also “seized” and destroyed more than 2 million counterfeit products in 2020.
Generally, Amazon reviews are considered reliable, but if you are buying no-name products then do your due diligence.
It is best to ignore the 4 and 5-star reviews unless they include experience with the product.
While Trustpilot and Amazon can’t control what is written the fact they allow 1 and 2-star reviews offers the consumer some protection.
I am satisfied that Trustpilot is an asset for people buying things online.
If you follow the few simple rules above then you should have no problems.
Amazon is a different breed of cat, with different algorithms and rules.
It has processes in place, but it can be a little slow to react to scammers.
However, if they are caught they should be prepared for a battle because Amazon has very deep pockets.
Overall I believe Amazon’s ratings are helpful.
Of course, your opinion may be different. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below.