don’t trust anything you read on the web

How Reliable Are Online Reviews for Anything?

First, I’m not talking about book reviews written by serious online book reviewers. So don’t get all worked up into a huge snit until you read the entire post. Joyfullyreviewed, dearauthor, and others like them are not the people I’m posting about today. Like them or not; agree with them or not; they work hard at what they do and they provide a viable place for readers to find out what books are like before they make purchases.

What I’m talking about are book reviews on amazon and other web sites that sell books. And I’m going to start the post with something I experienced recently. I saw an ad for granite counter tops in a local magazine. I’ve wanted them for a long time and the price was right. So I called and made an appointment to see one of their sales reps. I liked him, ordered the granite without even looking at it, and in less than a week it was installed without any problems whatsoever. And when it was finished the sales rep called and asked me to leave a review about their company. He told me he’d appreciate it because his competitor is so jealous he’s getting sales because of his special offer the competitor is leaving false nasty reviews about the company. And I checked it out when I left my own good review, and I was amazed at how many negative comments there were. Mostly because I had such a great experience. I liked them so much I recommended them to friends, and my friends had a great experience. And all the nasty reviews had two things in common: they were all posted anonymously, and all gave nothing but superficial negative comments without any actual descriptions.

I couldn’t help comparing this experience with some of the experiences I’ve seen with regards to book reviews on places like amazon. The bad ones are always short and snarky, and always written anonymously or with ridiculous, contrived names. And the good ones are often just as bad, which leaves me wondering whether or not the author’s family and friends left the reviews to help the author promote the book. The problem is most authors can spot a fake book review a mile away, but most consumers can’t, which is unfortunate. They trust these reviews and base their purchases on them, which is even more unfortunate.

Personally, I’d like to see an end to all anonymous online reviews…for any product. They are often false, misleading, and can’t be depended on. And if anyone wants to leave a valid review, there should be forms to fill out and these people shouldn’t be afraid to leave their real names, in bold print, and stand behind their words.

The point I’m trying to make is that consumers simply cannot trust every single review they read on amazon and other sites like amazon. If I’d read the reviews about the granite company I used and taken them seriously, I would have missed out on a great deal on new granite counters.