How Trustworthy are Legitimate Online Reviews?

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Unfortunately, there are many fake reviews around which does not give the product or service that is being “reviewed” a true picture. These fake reviews can easily be purchased. However, the good news is, a lot of review sites are cracking down when it comes to fake feedback. If it appears fake, the “review” is hidden or deleted. For example, Yelp and Amazon have become very strict and will delete feedback that seems less than legitimate. How they determine what is real and what isn’t, I am not 100% sure other than a few factors. The size of networks that these individuals have who leave reviews is a determination. I think more importantly if their personal information cannot be verified, that is also a red flag- and in that instance, the feedback message will be deleted.

I would like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had with a contractor, who appeared to have many glowing 5-star reviews on a trusted site that seemed quite legitimate. When I mean legitimate, I am talking about those who left the positive feedback were real people whose information was verifiable. In fact, it was due to these amazing reviews I decided to hire this contractor. When I contacted this company, they were extremely receptive and did an amazing sales presentation. They also gave me a huge discount if I had agreed to showcase their work to others once they were done with the job. I certainly had no problem with that. Between how impressed I was in conjunction to the positive feedback they had received, I was sold.

However, while they were doing the job, they were less than reliable. They made a lot of mistakes which took them a long time to correct. At best they did a mediocre job. However, because of the fact that I was given this big discount and had agreed to showcase their work- I did not want to rock the boat too much. Once their work was done, their marketing person had asked me to leave 5-star review on a local review site. The same one that I had found these glowing reviews. I agreed to do it, even though I felt they deserved to have no more than 3-stars because of how they did their job. After a lot of time had relapsed, I found it very strange that they were not contacting me about setting up a date to showcase their work. Then after doing some major digging on this company, I discovered that many customers who had dealt with this company were given the same promises- and were for the most part scammed.

I will tell you right now, that if there are glowing reviews from legitimate people- don’t ever take that as the gospel. This company made me believe that we had come up with an agreement (a steep discount in exchange for me showcasing their work) for the sole purpose of me giving them excellent feedback that they certainly did not deserve. Many businesses are aware of the fact that they cannot just go and buy fake reviews since these sites are cracking down. However, they will certainly find other creative ways to get a 5-star review from legitimate clients and customers even if they did a 1-star job.

You will be more likely to see more honest feedback on their social media sites, especially since unhappy customers or clients will be more likely to complain on those platforms. And the best thing to do before hiring a company is do some serious digging- and talk to others who you know and trust who may know about the business. That being said and to sum up, unfortunately, review sites do not always give you the true picture.

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11 Responses to How Trustworthy are Legitimate Online Reviews?

  1. Dawn Golden January 12, 2015 at 1:23 am #

    Awesome practical advice here Miriam. Thanks for reminding us of the cold, hard truth that: not everything you read on the internet is true! (Can you please call my mother and tell her that!? Ha!) I have often wondered if companies might stack the deck with positive info only. Really, SOMEBODY always has something negative to say and people with a bad experience seem more likely to speak up. 100% glowing reviews are suspicious to me! That being said, you certainly do deserve a glowing review for this article! Nice job!!
    Dawn Golden recently posted..Marketing Toolbox Basics

    • Miriam January 12, 2015 at 1:40 am #

      Thank you Dawn, and sorry to hear about your mother having a bad experience too! Reviews these days are not so trustworthy and thank you again for your kind words.

  2. Lillian De Jesus January 12, 2015 at 2:21 am #

    Hi Miriam,

    Great information here! I always wonder about reviews and if people are paid to place false reviews. I love your suggestion to check on their social media. People love to let others about services on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll definitely do more digging on services and their social media.

    Take care,
    Lillian De Jesus recently posted..8 Strategies to Goal Setting for Entrepreneurs

    • Miriam January 12, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

      Yes, you definitely cannot trust online reviews as companies have creative ways of getting them, even if they are not purchasing them!

  3. Sue Bride January 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Many of the products available for blog promotion and online marketing are affiliate based and it’s often hard to get a reliable review. Some don’t even give you full details but just use hype to advertise. In my early days, I’d fall for this but no more. If I don’t know exactly what I’m getting I won’t join or buy.

    Asking around among trustworthy friends and contacts really helps. It’s regularly saved me money. It certainly pays to do your homework.
    Sue Bride recently posted..Planning Ahead For Success

    • Miriam January 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

      Yes asking those who you know and trust will give you a better picture. You can’t base truth on what you read online anymore.

  4. Deborah A. Ten Brink January 19, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    Wow Miriam:

    That does sound like a real nightmare! My mind just does not work that way! So they baited you with a big discount in return for a good review even though they didn’t deserve it. Shame on them!

    I guess you are right, check out reviews of the company on several social media sites, then you know what you’re really dealing with! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your experience and giving us this sound advice!

    Deborah A. Ten Brink recently posted..Good Health Is Good Business

    • Miriam January 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

      Unfortunately this happens a lot more often than one would think. Thanks for the comment Deborah.

  5. Marquita Herald February 24, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Excellent advice Miriam. There have been a few times I suspected reviews were bogus, and after getting burned on a purchase last year I am more cautious than ever about who I do business with online. I hadn’t thought about checking social media, so I’ll be sure to include that in my research from now on!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Why We Need Inner Strength Every Day

    • Miriam February 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

      Yes! You definitely need to be so cautious! And lots of bogus stuff out there unfortunately.


  1. Are Online Reviews Really Trustworthy? | Miriam Slozberg - July 9, 2015

    […] few months ago, I had written a blog post about why you cannot always trust online glowing reviews. The same applies to negative online […]

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