When relying on online product reviews for information about goods and services, consumers should be aware that not all posted reviews are legitimate.
Reviews may appear on a business’ own site, on social media or on a review platform. Review platforms are sites which specialise in presenting product reviews about a range of businesses.
Here are a few tips for consumers who rely on online product reviews:
- seek information from multiple sources
- look at multiple reviews and comments about the same business and take note of any irregularities, such as a spike in positive reviews over a short period of time or multiple reviews with a similar tone and vocabulary, as they may have been authored by the same person
- be wary of reviewers or online contributors whose profile indicates that they have only ever written one review. The profile may have been created to write a fake review.
Review platforms which require proof of purchase before a review can be written are likely to be more reliable than those which do not.
Check to see whether the review platform has commercial arrangements with reviewed businesses and what benefits such arrangements offer. Examples of benefits which might affect the review results include:
- allowing partnering businesses to choose their favourite review to appear at the top of their page
- giving customers of partnering businesses who attempt to submit a negative review the option of contacting the business directly to resolve their complaint rather than posting the review.
Be wary of review platforms with overwhelmingly high reviews. This may be attributable to the deletion of credible negative reviews by the review platform.
Social media (for business)
Managing online reviews (for business)
Online reviews and recommendations video (US Federal Trade Commission)