Can you trust reviews on websites?

Companies that run review sites have a vested interest in eliminating false endorsements. And as many businesses know, these websites are usually a law in and of themselves. Anyone can write a review for a company, regardless of whether they have ever purchased or used their services or not. Or if he's just a resentful person, or even a devious competitor.

You're hesitant to book with a particular travel company, even if it has a high rating due to the presence of a bad review. According to Forbes, “Business owners have long complained about a negative bias in reviews on Yelp, where angry and disgruntled customers are more likely to offer their thoughts organically than their satisfied counterparts. Online travel site TripAdvisor and restaurant review site Zagat topped their list of most trusted sites. Or that anonymous reviewer who swears the skin cream she bought online had set her back to her adolescence.

You can read a full list of winners on their site or install a Chrome extension that alerts you to a false opinion. But you have to ask yourself: “Is this critic like me? Do we have the same expectations? If not, you can ignore it. Consumers tend to think negatively about products because of issues that are beyond the company's control. A covert operation by the New York State Attorney General's Office caught 19 companies that were playing dumb with the review system.

In a delicious touch of irony, Yelp itself isn't immune to online reviewers sharing their opinions and experiences. And it made us realize that not only do you have to be wary of fake reviewers, but also of some review sites. Apparently, someone read about the restaurant, skipped the part that it wasn't open for business yet, got angry after showing up and seeing that it was closed, and then gave the place a one-star Yelp review. It can be difficult to tell if the reviewer has a connection to the company, but doing an internet search on the reviewer can give you an idea.

When Fakespot marks a review, Amazon sometimes crackdowns on ratings and reviews the page. Maritz Research surveyed more than 3,400 people last year for their opinions on 13 review sites and customer ratings.

Claudia Gribben
Claudia Gribben

Professional webaholic. General travel fan. Evil coffeeaholic. Typical organizer. Incurable introvert.