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The Sad Truth behind the Trustworthiness of Online Reviews

Sarah Bolton

Sarah Bolton

Reviews Are Everywhere

Reviews have a lot of power over consumers and businesses alike.
In an extremely competitive market, they can have a substantial impact on how consumers make decisions, as well as on the eventual success of companies.

People love reviews because they think they can help them shop smarter, avoid costly mistakes, and learn from somebody else’s experience – especially before they are about to make an important purchase.

But what happens when companies pay blogs and websites (either directly or through commissions) for positive reviews and referrals?
Under such circumstances, are such reviews worth your time and money?

In a more just world, review sites need to be objective third-party entities who are committed to honesty, integrity, and the highest ethical standards.
They need to provide readers with valuable information that can be used to make informed consumer decisions.

The reviewer’s work needs to be the fruit of a thorough first-hand investigation, researching, and testing of the product or service.
A truthful review needs to reflect the authentic views, beliefs, opinions, experience, and findings of the reviewer.

Needless to say, a real review has to be completely independent, unbiased, impartial, totally free from any conflict of interest, and serve the consumer’s best interests exclusively, without any hidden agenda or ulterior motives.

Welcome to The Real World

However, in reality, things could not be more different.
Many online marketers use bogus reviews as an effective method to make money.
They write deceptive endorsements, praise a business, glorify a product, or speak highly of a service – sometimes without even trying it first.

Their sole purpose is to generate the magic click on the link that will take the referred user to the “reviewed” company’s site.
This action will make the referring blog or website some money, and in some cases a lot of money if a sale is eventually made.

When review authors get financial compensation for positive results, they tend to generate positive press, regardless of the facts.
Their assessments are not driven by the actual results of personal use and credible evaluation of the product, but rather by financial incentives and greed.

So, What’s Next?

The current situation is so dire that it’s become extremely difficult to find legitimate review sites that work ethically.
Since most online reviews are biased and offer very little value, reliability, and trustworthiness, consumers need to become more realistic and vigilant.
As more consumers are being duped by phony reviews, fake ratings, and dishonest recommendations, there has to be a better way.

One alternative that can help people to determine whether the product, service provider, or shopping site they are considering using is good or bad is to check their record on the Better Business Bureau’s website and see whether it’s a BBB accredited business or not.

When a fake review has nothing but a series of bogus superlatives, a BBB business profile can provide a more balanced picture in a way that can benefit consumers and their decision-making process.