We have all bought products or services at some point that have not met with our expectations. One of the most frustrating reasons for this is often the product or service was recommended. Hopefully the below pointers in spotting fake product reviews or biased online reviews is going to help you in not falling into the same trap again.
Whether it be a business opportunity, a training course, a holiday or an actual product on eBay or Amazon, the buyer (us) is becoming more vigilant in checking whether the product or service is the real deal. But this means that unscrupulous sellers are also becoming more clever and sneaky in finding ways to convince us to buy. Fake or biased reviews is one way that is more frequently being used to try to sway us to believing them.
Potters Magical Money believe in giving you the best information, advice and tips around, so hopefully the below methods of spotting fake reviews will be useful to you.
What are Fake or Biased Reviews?
Fake or biased online reviews are designed to appear to be from a genuine customer, but are actually not a fair representation of the customer’s experience.
In a lot of cases, fake reviews are entirely fabricated by someone who has never bought or used the product / service.
Biased reviews are usually generated by the seller giving away their product or service to the reviewer for free, or at least offering incentives to the reviewer like add-ons, discounts or even full refunds
Fake reviews are usually created by the seller employing or offering free giveaways to people to write a review. Fake reviews are not always positive, the most unscrupulous sellers may even arrange for negative reviews to be listed against their competitors product or service.
Check the Ratings – Is it really Perfect?
If the product or service has an extremely high percentage of perfect reviews (5 stars, 10 out of 10 etc) , then consider how likely it is that so many people found the product to be ‘perfect’.
The majority of people are unlikely to give a perfect rating unless they have received something that is really exceptional for a great price and had fantastic customer service.
We should we look for anything out of the ordinary. As with the price of the product, the reviews are very similar, if it appears too good to be true, then it probably is a scam, fake or counterfeit etc.
Who is the Reviewer?
One of the main ways that fake online reviews get generated is from the seller pushing bulk reviews on a site under different accounts.
Spotting these, is really not too difficult. Look for names that are too common (like John Smith), fake names and reviewers that don’t offer profile pictures (where available).
If you’re still not sure, whether it is a fake reviewer, then where possible dig a little deeper. Click on the reviewer profile, and look at all of their reviews. If they have been giving all five star reviews for similar products or products from the same company without any negative comments, then the odds are that the reviewer were bought and paid for.
Inspect the Actual Comments – Not Just the Rating
Please don’t rely on the final rating alone. Look at the comments about the product or services as well.
For positive reviews, most people will not spend hours writing a review and they will not go over-the-top. We usually only do this when we are upset and writing a negative review. Therefore, genuine positive reviews will usually :-
- Not be over-the-top in the language used
- include a small amount of specifics about the experience with the product or service
- be written in conversation English as a normal person would express their opinion.
Be wary of reviews that are very short and provide no details, such as “good product,” or “great company”. Whilst it is possible they could be genuine if the reviewer was in a rush, it is more likely that they are fake. Would you sit-down, log-in, select the product and, then click on the review to simply write TWO words?
Also, keep an eye open for repetition throughout the products reviews. If multiple accounts have been used to create bulk reviews, then it is likely that either the reviewer will be lazy and therefore type similar content or that they have been instructed ‘what-to-write’ from the seller.
Additionally, if the review reads like a commercial / advert, it’s most likely a fake review instead of an honest real product review. Where the reviewer is over-stating the low-price or USP (unique selling point) of the product, they have likely been employed or at least guided by the seller.
Finally, an odd-one, but look out for reviews written all in capital or with odd formatting. i.e. made to stand-out. An unscrupulous tactic used by advertising companies etc.
Positive Reviews with Pictures?
Would you seriously sit down and take pictures of a product that you were happy with? Most of us would answer ‘No’ to this question. Sure, taking pictures of problems to report to the manufacturer or seller is a common practice, but positive reviews with pictures are a common sign of a fake or biased review.
Sellers have been known to give incentives to reviewers by requesting positive reviews that include pictures of the product.
Check the Number of Reviews and the Dates
If you see considerably more reviews of a particular product against other products within the same category, then this should make you question their validity. This is most likely to be the result of a bulk review request from the seller.
Another major pointers is the review date. If a lot of the reviews were posted at the same time, the seller might have done a push to drum up positive feedback through incentives following the product launch or at key times of the year such as Black Friday.
In respect of the date, always take a look at the most recent reviews. Online sites have a habit of showing you the most relevant or the highest rating review first, which can be very misleading.
There are situations that exist where a company starts off with excellent customer service, but as time progresses the quality of this service dwindles. Reading the most recent reviews will, in most cases highlight the true latest situation.
Check the Review against the Product or Service
Often sellers use reviews for a particular product or service and display/link them across their whole range. Whilst this may not directly be a fake or biased review, it should be thoroughly checked as it certainly can be very misleading.
Just because the seller has a good rated delivery service does not necessarily mean they deliver a quality product. Similarly, just because the product is rated as good value-for-money does not mean that the customer service you will get will be up-to-scratch.
Confirming the review they have posted is for the actual product or service you are interested in is important. It’s simply done by checking the review content includes at least a small amount of specifics about the product or service.
Check the Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can be eye-openers. Some might raise issues with the product quality, value or the customer service. Some of these issues may just be one-offs and therefore can generally be ignored, as it is fact that as consumers we are more likely to give a negative review than a positive review.
However, consistent criticism of the quality or services should be noted. Especially where there is a very high number positive reviews in comparison. A proportion of the reviews are quite likely to be fake in an attempt to hide the negative. Often these can be identified in patterns. If a seller gets a bad review, then they will push for a load of positive reviews, to bring back up their average rating etc.
Don’t ignore the middle-of-the-road reviews. These are usually the best and often the most honest and insightful about both the positive and negative aspects of the product or service. Very negative reviews are often from one-off disgruntled customers or (unscrupulous competitors) , whilst very positive reviews could be fake or biased.
If in Doubt – Check it Out or Walkaway
If you spotted a collection of fake or biased reviews against the product or service you are interested in, then walkaway from the sale. Put your cash or your credit card back in your wallet or purse, take a step back and take a look at the alternatives. After all there is no doubt that an unscrupulous company that will use techniques such as fake or biased reviews is likely to also be unscrupulous in other parts of the business such as quality or service.
However, if after checking out the reviews, you’re still happy with the quality, value and service, then by all means go ahead and spend you cash. Enjoy it!
But if you’re in doubt, rather than jump one way or the other, why not check it out further. Reach out directly to the reviewer (if possible) or the seller and ask questions about the review. Most fake reviewers will not respond, but real reviewers often look forward to opportunities to be more helpful and genuine sellers will often point you directly to real customers that have given positive reviews.
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