Do you trust online reviews?

Psinter

This is not a rant, just a little story. I bought an item on Amazon because it had good reviews. When I received it, it was hogwash. Only a couple of people left real reviews about the quality of the product. One of them wrote something like: "I don't know what this reviewers are smoking, but this product quality is horrible." I laughed and told myself: "I would like to know too what they are smoking because no matter how you look at it, this isn't a good product in the line."

I got fooled by the good reviews because those who left critical reviews didn't specified what made the product bad. They just said it was bad. I thought that they just got a bad apple and that's why they said what they said. I was wrong. The product was indeed of bad quality. Plus, the amount of critical reviews were the minority. The product had like 4.5 stars overall.

So what do I do? I enter and leave a critical review, giving very specific details of what made the product bad. I included layman words as well as technicalities on where the product fails. Expecting it will help someone in the future. Later I learned that some people get paid to write good reviews. I should have known that, but I didn't. Now I know. I think that those who leave critical reviews should give more details because just saying that the product is bad or that it broke doesn't help much. Neither does when they write in a ranting tone as it is perceived as negative and ignored.

The internet. That one place where believing the majority can lead to unexpected results.

So, do you trust online reviews?

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Borg

Gold Member
What were the good reviews like? Did you examine the history or other posts by the 'reviewers'?

Psinter

What were the good reviews like?
I'm going to use a washing machine as an analogy to the product I bought. Good features a person would look in a washing machine would be:
• To be as silent as possible.
• To use as little amount of water as possible to save water.
• To use very little energy.
• Durable buttons.
• Not much vibrations.
• To have many different options for cycles.
So there go the reviewers and write: "Oh my god, this is the most silent washing machine I have ever had! It is super duper silent! I can wash clothes at 1:00 AM and not wake up my baby. It uses almost no water and the manual says it consumes very little energy. It has more cycles than I will ever use in my life and honestly I doubt anyone will ever use that much cycles. It doesn't vibrate at all! I definitely recommend this product."

And there goes Psinter, believes it, and buys the washing machine. Only to discover it vibrates like a chipping hammer and is very loud .

Another analogy for electronics is like, if the description said the battery of the device last 4 hours, someone in the reviews says it last 5 hours. But when I buy it, it lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes or less. Only in the first use the battery it lasts more or less 4 hours. As soon as you begin a second use, the battery is as if it was damaged or something.
Did you examine the history or other posts by the 'reviewers'?
No. It never occurred to me. But now that you mention it, that could be a nice way to go around it.

Borg

Gold Member
No. It never occurred to me. But now that you mention it, that could be a nice way to go around it.
I do similar things with new posters on PF. It's easy to see how old an account is, how many times they've posted, etc. For a shopping site, I would be suspicious if a lot of them were single posts, they only reviewed that product or that company's products and/or they only give 5 stars for everything. I noted the last one because there are companies that sell services to post good reviews.

ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
2018 Award
This is not a rant, just a little story. I bought an item on Amazon because it had good reviews. When I received it, it was hogwash. Only a couple of people left real reviews about the quality of the product. One of them wrote something like: "I don't know what this reviewers are smoking, but this product quality is horrible." I laughed and told myself: "I would like to know too what they are smoking because no matter how you look at it, this isn't a good product in the line."

I got fooled by the good reviews because those who left critical reviews didn't specified what made the product bad. They just said it was bad. I thought that they just got a bad apple and that's why they said what they said. I was wrong. The product was indeed of bad quality. Plus, the amount of critical reviews were the minority. The product had like 4.5 stars overall.

So what do I do? I enter and leave a critical review, giving very specific details of what made the product bad. I included layman words as well as technicalities on where the product fails. Expecting it will help someone in the future. Later I learned that some people get paid to write good reviews. I should have known that, but I didn't. Now I know. I think that those who leave critical reviews should give more details because just saying that the product is bad or that it broke doesn't help much. Neither does when they write in a ranting tone as it is perceived as negative and ignored.

The internet. That one place where believing the majority can lead to unexpected results.

So, do you trust online reviews?
I'm sure you must know that Amazon has been trying to clean up their act, especially with respect to the reviews of the products. I would put more emphasis on reviews written by "Verified Purchase" reviewer, and if the product has had a lot of reviews, not just a few. One would hope that such a large number will give a more accurate impression and drown out the fake ones.

I've written reviews on Amazon of stuff that I purchased, and I also write reviews on Trip Advisor. In both cases, you can often figure out if the person writing the review is trustworthy simply by looking at that person's history on those websites. If you see a very positive review from someone who had never written a review before, then I'd be more inclined to be suspicious, than from someone who already has a track record.

Like everything else that is found online, a little bit of due diligence is always in order if you want to ensure some degree of authenticity.

Zz.

Psinter

For a shopping site, I would be suspicious if a lot of them were single posts, they only reviewed that product or that company's products and/or they only give 5 stars for everything. I noted the last one because there are companies that sell services to post good reviews.
I will do the same now.
I'm sure you must know that Amazon has been trying to clean up their act, especially with respect to the reviews of the products.
I didn't know. I'm a newbie on Amazon and straight off the bat I got a lemon. I come to know now that you tell me.

(I don't know if that phrase makes sense here. In my place, when you get a bad deal you say you got a lemon. Because lemons are sour . It is a phrase mostly used by the old people of my place. Not much by youngsters.)
I would put more emphasis on reviews written by "Verified Purchase" reviewer, and if the product has had a lot of reviews, not just a few.
Those will get more weight then in my decisions.

jack action

Gold Member
Another trick is to look for reviews on other merchant sites or specialized forums.

Psinter

Just finished reading that. It's good to know that they are trying to make something about it.

Edit: [My joke is lame, I removed it.]
Another trick is to look for reviews on other merchant sites or specialized forums.
Just about now, while thinking about it, I was about to propose something similar . *high five*

robphy

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Possibly useful:
http://fakespot.com/

(I don't know how accurate it is...
but poor grades given by that site have stopped me from ordering items that appeared to have good reviews.

I don't know if folks have figured a way to fool this grading scheme.)

Mark44

Mentor
I've bought several items from Amazon, a few of which were tools of various kinds. I will usually compare prices with Lowe's and HomeDepot, and one of these box stores will sometimes have the item for a lower price. If I'm going to lay out a significant chunk of money, I definitely look at the reviews on all three sites. I look at both the favorable reviews, as well as the reviews that are critical of the item.

One of the nice things about Amazon is that, if you aren't satisfied with what you bought, you can send it back. If you bought something you consider a lemon, by all means, send it back. IIRC, the return shipping is free.

@Psinter, out of curiousity, what was the item you bought?

Evo

Evo

Mentor
I wish I had read the reviews on Amazon on my Dyson Animal Complete vacuum before I bought it. It does have great features like all of the easily snap together parts. The downside is the cheap plastic slot where you use a quarter to remove the rotating carpet brush, which you need to do every 5 minutes. The cheap plastic strips so that now I have no option but to cut the hair off of the brush.

For $400 less, I bought the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. OMG, it actually works! No tangling, no cutting the hair off of the brush. They have a technology that prevents hair from winding around the brush! And it really works! Anyone want to buy an almost brand new Dyson? I've used it about 8 times. Oh and the Bissell empties the dirt canister by itself, the Dyson doesn't, you have to stick your hand inside and try and pull the nasty stuff out. And buy direct from the Bissell site, they will deal with you and give you incredible discounts, you will get it cheaper from them than from ANYWHERE else, plus free S&H and they donate to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Sorry for the hijack. I just had to say if I had read the negative reviews on Amazon about Dyson, I would not have wasted my money. Borg Science Advisor Gold Member One of the nice things about Amazon is that, if you aren't satisfied with what you bought, you can send it back. If you bought something you consider a lemon, by all means, send it back. IIRC, the return shipping is free. The caveat to that is that it applies to items stocked by Amazon and not necessarily sold on Amazon. I bought a new keyboard for my laptop and, when it wasn't the right one, I found out that it would cost$22 to ship my $35 keyboard back to China. Lesson learned. Psinter The company got a C. I'm going to assume it is not good. @Psinter, out of curiousity, what was the item you bought? That's a secret. Muahahaha. No, just kidding. An accessory for a tablet. I prefer to keep it to me though. In my case, it was hard to know because there were 42 pages of 1 star reviews, but more than 350 pages of 5 star reviews. Like, what the actual heck . The 1 star reviews didn't coincide. It made you think that they were just unlucky customers that got a damaged unit. Or that they were just this kind of customer that doesn't know how to use electronics and quickly go out there to slam a bad review. The 5 stars reviews did coincide and they all praised the same features. When I buy it I realize that the 1 star reviews were not lying and that the 5 stars review where from people who didn't know any better. From people who had never had a good quality product in that line. If they don't know better stuff exist, they will obviously think that they have an awesome product. I don't think their reviews are fake, I just think that they don't know any better. And I shouldn't have trusted their judgement. Now that I am reading the 1 star reviews again I notice that many are saying that they, just like me, bought them based on the good reviews. Only to learn that the quality was mediocre and return them. One of them wrote that the high reviews are a joke and that it is awful. Another said he was disgusted. But as you can see, that doesn't help much. It is better when specific details of what makes the product bad are given. That way readers are better informed. One of the nice things about Amazon is that, if you aren't satisfied with what you bought, you can send it back. If you bought something you consider a lemon, by all means, send it back. IIRC, the return shipping is free. Good to know for the future. At this point I just surrendered that I lost my money. I don't think I can return it anymore. I just had to say if I had read the negative reviews on Amazon about Dyson, I would not have wasted my money. I would have fallen for it. Even after reading the reviews. It has 4.4 stars out of 5 on Amazon, but in the link robphy gave us, that product got a C as well. It says that there may be some deception in the reviews. Thanks robphy . Psinter I bought a new keyboard for my laptop and, when it wasn't the right one, I found out that it would cost$22 to ship my \$35 keyboard back to China. Lesson learned.
Ouch. Happened to me too once. But it wasn't on Amazon, nor on eBay. It was another site. The returning cost was too high for the amount of money I would recover. But I managed to get the seller banned from the site for scamming me. Not that it matters much. I suppose they just create a new account.

dkotschessaa

If I could "like" a whole thread it'd be this one. Very nice discussion on a subject I wouldn't typically expect to show up on PF.

-Dave K

Psinter

So Amazon can be a little tricky at times. Amazon is a marketplace, which means that multiple sellers can sell under the same listing. You'd think that it should be the exact same product, but often times it isn't. So you have product reviews that are all commingled from "the same" product from different sellers, and there's no way to differentiate which is from which seller.
I see. So that's how it works.
So to the untrained eye, seeing a product with a lot of positive and a lot of negative reviews might make you think the positives are all fake, however this isn't always the case.
In my case it was the opposite . I thought the negatives were the nonsense/fake/unhelpful before buying.

It is indeed a tricky subject.
If I could "like" a whole thread it'd be this one. Very nice discussion on a subject I wouldn't typically expect to show up on PF.
How much do you trust online reviews? It doesn't have to be Amazon, it can be any online place.

Now I know to always search in as much places as possible.

dkotschessaa

How much do you trust online reviews? It doesn't have to be Amazon, it can be any online place.
We buy a lot through Amazon - almost daily. I treat the reviews with a fair bit of skepticism but generally accept them and at some point just have to make a decision, which is a bit of a gamble. I like some of the ideas presented in this thread for taking a bit of that guesswork out.

I try to look for specifics. If five different people say "the yellow tab attached to the plastic widget on this thingy broke halfway through" then clearly that is worth paying attention to. But I also try to keep in mind with reviews is that people are generally more inclined to leave a negative review than a positive one. I also try to ask myself whether the negative reviews are just due to the person not understanding a product or using it correctly.

-Dave K

Psinter

I treat the reviews with a fair bit of skepticism but generally accept them and at some point just have to make a decision, which is a bit of a gamble. I like some of the ideas presented in this thread for taking a bit of that guesswork out.
Put more emphasis in the word skepticism and that would be me now .
I check to see if they are somehow generating a commission off the sales. If they are, it's hard to trust them as "unbiased".
I think so too.

dkotschessaa

Put more emphasis in the word skepticism and that would be me now .

I think so too.
Faith in humanity ruined a bit? :)

This will cheer you up. Faith in humanity will not be restored, but you'll laugh.

-Dave K

Gold Member

Psinter

Faith in humanity ruined a bit? :)

This will cheer you up. Faith in humanity will not be restored, but you'll laugh.

-Dave K

The sugar free gummy bears are legendary.

I can't choose which one I like more. The cable with data transmission rates faster than the speed of light or the one who upgraded to Windows 95.

"Do you trust online reviews?"

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