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Fake Reviews Can Mislead Shoppers; Try Verified BBB Reviews Instead
Released: Monday June 25, 2012 (Calgary, AB) - BBB
The BBB is advising consumers to be skeptical when reading online reviews of businesses, products and services.
Many reviews are written by professional writers or even employees who are paid to put a positive spin on a review-or to post bad reviews of competitors. It can also be hard for consumers to distinguish fake reviews from real ones.
"The Internet makes it easy to research products and services before we buy," said Sandra Crozier-McKee, BBB President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenays. "However, sometimes reviews can give buyers a false sense of security about the product or service they're looking for. You need to take time to understand what you're buying and who you're buying from before you place an order."
Telltale signs of fake reviews may include vague or awkward phrasing or testimonials that seem too enthusiastic to be believable. Some reviews may be identical or nearly so.
A few online retailers have policies that ban reviews by people who have a financial stake in the company or product that's being reviewed. These sites should explain their policies on reviews, possibly on the "about us" section of the website. If the product is widely available, you may be able to find other online reviews that you can compare with reviews on a company's own website.
BBB Business Reviews, by contrast, are verified by BBB staff and include details of any complaints against a company and show how the company responds to complaints. Companies are asked to provide basic information about their businesses. The BBB assists businesses and consumers in resolving their disputes, providing mediation and arbitration.
Some red flags to look for that may indicate that reviews are fake:
at the reviewer's name. If it has several numbers at the end, it may be a
sign of robotic review-writing software. If the name resembles a business
or product name, it could be written by someone being paid for reviews.
you have the name in mind, check to see whether the same reviewer has
written reviews of other products in the same category. Try plugging the
reviewer's name or nickname into a search engine to check for repeat
some sites you can click on a reviewer's name to see a profile and
the adjectives. If a review is loaded with effusive, positive writing with
lots of exclamation points, it's probably a fake review. Real people
seldom gush over products, and they often share the cons as well as the
pros of their experience.
of perfection in writing. If the review sounds like an ad, it probably is.
out for too many five-star ratings. Businesses seldom please everyone all
of the time.
for bad grammar or misused words. These could be signs that the reviews
have been outsourced to a country where English is not the native language
or that a reviewer is writing lots of reviews without checking spelling or
for the same or similar wording in reviews. A paid reviewer may copy and
paste wording from one review to another to save time. You can copy the
review into a search engine to see if the same phrases are used elsewhere.
plenty of reviews. Don't rely only on reviews on a company's own website.
See what people are saying elsewhere online.