More people are turning to the Internet for services, and Angie’s List warns everyone to take a closer look at online reviews.
There are many different services offered on the Internet, and consumers are not hesitant to share their opinions on the web.
Typically, when consumers purchase a service online they often rely on online reviews before making their final decision. However, Angie’s List founder and Angie Hicks warns consumers to pay closer attention to the reviews since many of them may not be coming from credible sources.
“When consumers turn online to get information on services they might want to hire the first thing they want to do is understand how the site works,” Hicks said. “How are the reviews compiled? How do companies get listed on the site? These are all important questions for consumers.”
Although the Federal Trade Commission announced plans to develop guidelines to crack down on fake consumer reviews earlier this year, Hicks encouraged consumers to take their personal precautions.
“I’m completely against anonymous reviews because that leads to information not being reliable,” Hicks said. “Consumers are making too big of decisions based on information they read online and we need for people to be accountable for what’s being said.”
According to the Dalfort Media study, they found that 57 percent of the reviews for a sampling of businesses in the Google Places directory appeared to be fabricated.
Angie’s List Tips: How to get the most value from online review sites
1. Research the sites to determine how they work:
a. Are reviews anonymous?
b. Are reviews edited by the site or allowed to stand as the reviewer wrote them?
c. Does the site have a check and balance system to ensure the reviews are truthful and fair?
d. Does a human being read the reviews?
e. Can companies respond to the reviews?
f. Are there remedies for consumers who have issues with companies they’ve reviewed?
g. Can you reach someone at the site if you have questions?
2. Review the reviewers:
a. Look for companies that have multiple reviews, especially on anonymous review sites, so you get a wide opinion base.
b. Do many of the reports seem very much alike, as if they may have been form letters submitted by someone trying to stack the deck?
c. Are all the reviews overwhelmingly positive that they sound too good to be true?
d. Do the reviews contain details that help convince you they came from real people?
e. Is there information beyond stars, checkmarks or grades so you can learn more about what led to the online review?
3. Cast a wide net:
a. Don’t rely on just one resource, especially for high dollar major projects.
b. Check a variety of online sites and regulatory sites, like your state attorney general, to get a wide opinion base.
c. Check with friends, family and neighbors.
d. Trust your instincts.
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