Are you looking for trustworthy reviews of products and services online? Do you want to know whether the product you're considering buying has been reviewed by someone who actually used it before recommending it to others? How about finding genuine customer feedback from people who have bought similar items in the past?
These questions may sound like they should be easy answers – but unfortunately, there's no simple answer that will work for everyone.
There are many different kinds of review websites where customers leave their honest opinions about products and services. Some are professional business-to-business (B2B) platforms such as Shippo, while some let anyone post anything regardless of background. Others even allow companies to make money off other businesses' negative reviews! It gets confusing very quickly.
One thing we can all agree on though is that most of them aren't particularly reliable. And when it comes down to deciding between trusting one over another, how does one decide which ones to use? What makes a good review site? Which ones are worth trusting?
To help readers sort through this mess, here at MUO we've compiled a list of our favorite review sites and compared them against each other to give you an idea of what works well and what doesn't. We'll also explain why so many of you are still using outdated methods to get around fake reviews.
The first question any of us ask ourselves when reading up on new products is "where did this come from?" The problem is, not every company shares its information publicly, making it difficult to find unbiased reviews. But thankfully, there are plenty of ways to uncover honest reviews that don’t require paying for access to proprietary data.
For example, there are several places on the web where users share their experiences directly with the manufacturer via customer support channels. This includes forums, user manuals, and official company websites. Not only can you read others' accounts of their own personal experience, but you can also learn more about the history behind the brand, where it came from, and who made it.
Even if a website isn't specifically selling the item under consideration, it might provide helpful details about the company itself. For instance, we found a great article from Forbes detailing how Amazon uses community feedback to improve its recommendations system. When you browse popular categories or search terms on Amazon, you'll notice those results include links to third party sources. These pages show you additional information about the brands featured in the result set. You'll often find reviews and testimonials written by actual consumers rather than anonymous employees. In fact, some of these reviews are so positive, Amazon even allows sellers to quote direct quotes from reviewers without having to go back to the person themselves.
Another way to spot real reviews is to look for reviews posted by the same author across multiple platforms. If you see the same name repeatedly sharing both positive and negative comments, there's probably something fishy going on.
While these two options above seem pretty straightforward, there are plenty of other ways to locate authentic reviews too. One Reddit thread lists dozens of resources including consumer reports, social media posts, and professional publications. Another subreddit offers detailed instructions on how to identify fake reviews based on certain characteristics, such as whether or not the reviewer had previously purchased the product in question. There's always room for improvement when it comes to spotting fakes though, especially since most of the time you won't be able to check beyond basic factors like names, dates, and locations.
When searching for reviews, keep in mind that just because a particular service claims to offer 100% verified reviews, it doesn't mean they really are. A reputable service would never claim otherwise anyway. It's important to remember that reviews aren’t necessarily independent pieces of content, so they shouldn't be taken literally unless they were provided by the vendor themselves.
The truth is, there are lots of legitimate review sites available today, and it's hard to choose among them. That said, there are a few things you can do to narrow down your choices. First off, you should avoid paid review sites. While these do exist, they typically involve submitting your credit card info and waiting months for payment to arrive. Many of them also charge exorbitant fees per review, ranging anywhere from $10-$100+. As far as non-paid review sites go, you need to consider the following:
If you're interested in starting your own review site, we recommend checking out the resources listed below. They contain everything you need to know about launching a successful review site, including tips on building a strong reputation and monetizing traffic.
Fake reviews are everywhere. Whether it's a shady marketplace trying to sell counterfeit goods or a company creating false reviews to boost sales, it seems like no matter what industry you're in, you can expect to encounter fake reviews. Fortunately, there are some signs that suggest a review is likely bogus. Here are three red flags to watch out for:
Scamming: Fake reviews are usually intended to mislead potential buyers into believing an inferior product is superior. Scammers try to pass off cheap knockoffs as high quality copies, or vice versa. Sometimes scammers try to convince unsuspecting customers that a low price means their purchase was sold at loss, resulting in a refund. Other times they attempt to trick shoppers into thinking a product wasn't delivered on time, leading them to believe the seller didn't care enough to deliver it correctly. Always take buyer beware warnings seriously. Even if you think they're exaggerated, chances are they could end up being accurate depending on the situation.
Unprofessionalism: Bad reviews sometimes reflect poorly on a brand's credibility, so you definitely want to steer clear of them. However, it's also possible to write bad reviews yourself for reasons unrelated to the brand. To get rid of these non-authentic reviews, pay attention to spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies in tone. Also note if the review contains factual inaccuracies, or if it focuses mainly on negatives instead of positives. Finally, check to see if the writer appears to be affiliated with the brand in any way. If he is, there's a good chance his opinion is biased due to a vested interest.
Cheap Plagiarism: This happens a lot less frequently nowadays thanks to technology, but once upon a time, unscrupulous vendors tried to capitalize on the popularity of fake reviews by offering freebies in exchange for a favorable comment. Most of these scams involved getting a friend to pretend to be a satisfied customer and then posting glowing praise on behalf of the vendor. Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping a scammer from doing the exact same thing now with an automated script. So if you spot a suspiciously identical review popping up elsewhere, you may want to reconsider your decision to click through.
This is perhaps the biggest issue facing the entire market today. Since most of the major review sites are owned by large corporations, they tend to follow strict guidelines regarding what counts as acceptable behavior. As a result, these rules are enforced by algorithms designed to detect spammy tactics. These include things like excessive self promotion, duplicate submissions, and unnatural language patterns. By design, these measures prevent bad actors from gaming the system.
Unfortunately, they also cause problems for regular everyday consumers who aren't intentionally violating any policies. Because of this, Google takes action whenever it detects fraudulent activity. This includes taking down offending articles, removing listings from search engine rankings entirely, and flagging the businesses responsible for writing the reviews.
Despite all this effort, however, it turns out that fake reviews remain incredibly common. According to one study published in 2018, nearly half of reviews offered on Amazon are suspected forgeries. And a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports revealed that 90 percent of respondents admitted to purchasing a product solely due to its positive rating from a trusted retailer.
In short, it's virtually impossible to completely eliminate fake reviews from the market altogether. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize their impact on your purchases. If you ever run into trouble, simply contact the company whose product you're reviewing. Chances are, they'll happily remove problematic reviews if given a heads up. Or maybe they'll offer a full refund if the review turned out to be inaccurate. Either way, you'll feel much safer knowing the decision process went smoothly.
Online review websites are all over the place and they can be confusing. There's no shortage of them and some appear to offer more value than others. So how do you know that what you're reading about on any given website is actually accurate?
You might have heard people talk about trusted third-party platforms like TrustPilot and ResellerRatings as trustworthy ways to collect feedback from customers. But does this really mean anything? What makes two independent companies come together to form one big company anyway? And why would anyone want to use such a thing in the first place?
To help answer those questions we compared our own experiences using both these platforms and came up with a few conclusions based on our findings. We also took into account other popular review platforms (like MuggsAndCups) to give us a broad view of where each service stands today.
If you've ever read through a list of user comments posted by someone who has bought something then you'll probably agree that it doesn't matter much whether the person who wrote the comment was paid off directly or indirectly. If he/she had good things to say then chances are pretty high that his opinion will hold true even if it wasn't written by him.
That said, some online review services claim to take privacy very seriously and don't disclose their payment methods publicly. That means you need to check carefully before trusting any of them blindly. The most important factor when choosing between different review services seems to be reputation and track record – if they haven't done something wrong yet then chances are they won't start doing so soon.
On top of this, make sure that whatever review service you choose offers options beyond just customer satisfaction surveys. Some may only send emails with survey results while others allow users to post their opinions on social media channels too. This gives you another chance to hear different perspectives and helps you determine whether the product sold well enough to warrant further discussion.
There are lots of review sites out there but you should always focus on finding one that works for you instead of settling for the first option you find. It pays to do some research beforehand and think about what kind of information you're looking for. You could opt for something simple like an average rating, number of positive reviews, and a general idea of whether the business in question is reputable. Or maybe you'd prefer to dig deeper and look at specific details like price range, delivery time, refund policy, etc. Whatever works best for you depends largely on the type of products you buy regularly.
When I used to work in retail back in college, I found it hard to believe that my colleagues were genuinely satisfied with the quality of the products they sold. After all, they worked hard and did everything they possibly could to sell me stuff, right? Sure, they tried to persuade me to buy certain items and sometimes offered discounts, but ultimately I knew that a lot of their sales skills were motivated by money rather than genuine interest in helping me discover new brands.
I'm not saying that every retailer tries to deceive its customers intentionally, but it certainly happens. In fact, many businesses try to hide behind a veil of secrecy because they're afraid of getting bad press. When a consumer finds out that a particular brand isn't worth buying, they tend to spread negative word-of-mouth faster than anything else. Unfortunately, that can lead to a downward spiral for any company since people stop going to stores altogether until they figure out that it's not worthwhile anymore.
Nowadays, however, consumers have become far savvier thanks to technology. They now possess access to countless resources that let them learn about products quickly without having to visit brick-and-mortar shops themselves. With that knowledge comes responsibility. People often forget that they're supposed to act responsibly towards others and treat them fairly, especially if they end up giving them a recommendation. Consumers shouldn't feel entitled to receive freebies simply because they asked nicely!
Unfortunately, many retailers still fall short of providing fair compensation whenever they ask customers to leave a review or testimonial. As long as you keep this in mind, you should never worry about being ripped off. Instead, you should expect nothing less from a business that asks for your input. Even though it hurts, honesty is usually the best policy after all.
It goes without saying that a business' credibility matters to everyone involved. For example, if you're planning to purchase expensive electronics from abroad then you obviously wouldn't want to deal with shady merchants. Likewise, no respectable seller wants to run afoul of regulators either.
In order to protect yourself against fraudsters and scammers who operate under false pretenses, you should pay attention to certain signs. Here are some tips that can help you assess the legitimacy of a business regardless of whether you plan to shop online or offline:
Look for official logos and seals that prove authenticity
Ask around for recommendations from previous clients
Check the return policies
Pay extra close attention to shipping fees
Verify the terms of sale and contact info
Make sure that prices seem reasonable
Avoid deals that sound too good to be true
Most importantly, remember that nobody deserves to be deceived and treated unfairly. If you suspect that a certain vendor is trying to pull a fast one, speak up immediately. Letting down friends and family members will hurt more than you realize and will surely cause trouble later on. Don't be shy about pointing out scams when you encounter them!
As mentioned above, it's impossible to tell if a merchant is fraudulent just by browsing through their offerings. However, there are plenty of ways to spot red flags. A quick search on Google reveals hundreds of articles offering advice on how to avoid falling prey to scam artists. Of course, none of these rules apply universally, but here are some common sense guidelines that you can follow to minimize risk:
Never accept a discount unless you're absolutely certain that you're getting a great deal
Don't sign up for any newsletter or promotional campaign unless you understand exactly what it entails
Always double-check the address listed on a receipt
Be careful when dealing with unfamiliar sellers or organizations
Use common sense and weigh the risks vs benefits of accepting a transaction
These principles cover almost everything except perhaps the last item on the list. While it's easy to rely solely on our intuition to decide whether a certain business is trustworthy, there's a growing body of evidence suggesting otherwise. In fact, studies show that people consistently underestimate the amount of deception in everyday life. Even worse, some researchers argue that humans are inherently dishonest creatures.
The bottom line is that you should exercise caution whenever you consider making purchases online. Not only do unscrupulous vendors exist everywhere, but they're also becoming increasingly sophisticated. Luckily, there are tools available to help you navigate safely through the wild world of ecommerce. One excellent tool is the free web browser extension called NoScript. It allows you to block scripts that could potentially compromise your security and prevent malware infections. Another helpful addition is HTTPS Everywhere. It lets you automatically switch to encrypted connections whenever possible. These extensions should go hand-in-hand with a reliable antivirus program such as Avast Free Antivirus Plus ($29 per year). Finally, you should definitely set up some sort of anti-phishing system to ensure that email addresses aren't stolen.
Reviews are an important part of online commerce and purchasing decisions. But how do we know they're real? How do we know that the reviewer isn't just trying to make money off their own marketing efforts? And what about third-party websites offering "verified" customer reviews – should we believe them too?
In fact, it's difficult to tell whether any given consumer review is authentic or not. There are several different companies providing user feedback on products, all claiming to offer independent reviews from actual customers. Which ones are legitimate? We've compared three popular options in this article.
Verified Purchase Reviews (VPR) claims to provide only genuine reviews from people who have purchased items through its service. It does so by verifying purchases made on its website using digital certificates provided by VeriSign and Thawte. VPR users must also fill out a brief survey before being allowed to leave comments.
The company has been around since 2008, but recently announced plans to expand into China. With a growing number of competitors popping up over time, including MugsAndCupsSMART, MallNADO (now defunct), and StoreReviews.com, VPR may be losing ground as more consumers become aware of other ways to verify a purchase than simply trusting someone else's word.
MallNADO was one of the first big names in the industry, opening shop back in 2010. When it shut down at the end of 2014, many were left wondering why. The answer came when Redditors discovered that some of the reviews posted on the site were actually paid advertisements. A few months later the company's founder admitted he had faked his way through the entire operation.
StoreReviews.com launched in 2012 and claimed to be completely free of advertising. However, it quickly attracted criticism after users complained about deceptive practices such as posting false reviews without leaving proper contact information or making sure to disclose links leading to affiliate programs. In 2013, it began charging $10 per month to remove spammy reviews.
Since then, though, the company seems to have settled down somewhat. Its staff now includes former employees from Amazon, Best Buy, and Target among others, and it no longer requires members to pay anything extra for removing negative reviews. That said, the reputation of the site remains tarnished, especially considering the recent news of the same thing happening again.
While VPR offers a relatively easy way to ensure authenticity, it also limits potential reviewers to those willing to spend time filling out surveys. While it might seem like this will weed out trolls and spammers, it could still result in less diverse opinions, particularly from non-English speakers.
This problem exists even outside of VPR. For example, Yelp uses anonymous reviewers to rate restaurants. This means anyone can post a rating without having ever set foot inside the establishment. The resulting reviews tend to be highly positive, because those writing them don't really care much beyond getting credit for good food. They often fail to mention things like bad parking, long wait times, or poor service.
Another option would be to use crowdsourcing platforms like UserVoice, where individuals submit ideas for improvements instead of giving detailed critiques. You won't necessarily hear everything out loud, but you'll probably get a lot closer to what matters most to you.
UserVoice also allows businesses to give their side of the story regarding issues raised by users. So while you might not always agree with the content of individual posts, you'll likely learn something useful along the way.
If you want to read honest reviews of products, you need look no further than retail stores themselves. Most brick-and-mortar establishments regularly publish lists of pros and cons, and sometimes include photos of specific features in action. These aren't always written by professional writers, so take them with a grain of salt, but they can help you decide between two similar products.
You can also check out forums dedicated to particular categories of goods. If you live in the United States, you might consider checking out Consumer Reports' Ratings & Expert Review section, which rates hundreds of electronics each year. The magazine doesn't guarantee impartiality, but it provides valuable insight nonetheless.
For more general advice, try reading blogs run by experts in various fields. Some of our favorites include Lifehacker, TechCrunch, MakeUseOf, and PCMag.
It depends on exactly what kind of reviews you're looking for. If you want recommendations based solely on price-performance ratios, you'd do well to avoid comparison shopping engines altogether. Instead, search for retailers selling the exact item you want, and browse their listings for detailed, firsthand accounts.
However, if you're interested in learning more about a new model car, say, or comparing the quality of different types of headphones, shopping comparisons sites can be quite helpful. Sites like CarsDirect allow you to enter a keyword and receive a list of results sorted by price, mileage, and reliability.
There are plenty of smaller niche sites available for specialized purposes. One example is iPartSmall, which specializes in computer hardware and peripherals. Another is IPartSmart, which focuses on home theater gear. Both of these specialize in reviewing devices that don't fall under major brands, allowing them to focus on providing thorough, reliable coverage of emerging technologies.
Finally, if you're hoping to save money, you might want to investigate the concept of buying secondhand equipment. Sites like eBay Motors and Craiglist let you buy used gadgets directly from owners rather than going through middlemen.
That said, keep in mind the risks involved if you choose to buy a refurbished device. As with any sale, buyer beware applies here! Be sure to research the history of any piece of equipment you plan to buy, both past and present. Even if it's brand new, there's nothing stopping unscrupulous sellers from lying about previous damage or defects. Also, remember that your warranty expires once you start owning the device.
When it comes to finding trusted resellers, one popular way is by visiting sites such as eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, Newegg and more. The problem is that some companies pay people to write positive reviews on those sites in order to boost sales.
This practice has been deemed unethical by many who have seen this happen first hand. It's also illegal under US law (unless you've paid someone to leave a fake review).
In addition, most big retailers will not allow you to post negative reviews unless you purchased from their physical location. This makes it harder for customers to voice concerns or complaints about products without fear of reprisal.
The solution is to look elsewhere for trustworthy information. That's where the concept of reseller ratings come into play. These independent rating platforms give buyers the ability to rate vendors based on their experience with that vendor. Reviews aren't always accurate either because reviewers may be biased towards a particular brand due to its affiliation with the site itself.
But does any of that really matter when compared to other sources of feedback like social media? Well, yes it matters! While social media is great at getting instant opinions from all kinds of different people, it doesn't offer much insight into whether the company behind the product offers quality service. In fact, social networks can often lead consumers astray, especially since it's so easy to share misleading posts.
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