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How to Spot Fake ReviewsOctober 14th, 2019 by
Most people nowadays are searching for and purchasing products or services online (approximately one-third of us are buying online weekly). One great thing about online shopping is that we can conduct our own research before we buy a product or hire a company for a service.
Reviews help us make a lot of decisions, from choosing a restaurant for a special occasion to hiring a contractor to remodel your home. Unfortunately, not all reviews can be trusted. There are fakes out there, so read on to learn how to spot them, and find out how reviews can help you find the right contractor for you.
About Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are useful tools for other potential customers looking for a product or service. We rely on other people’s feedback all the time to buy clothes, choose a restaurant, and pick a movie to go see. By sharing their experiences, other customers help us determine whether something would be right for us or not.
Reviews can be collected in different ways, and some methods of collection are more reliable than others. On retail websites like Amazon, customers leave their own reviews. You don’t always know who is an actual buyer of the product and who is creating fake reviews to boost a product.
Some companies, like Best Pick Reports, act as an independent third party and reach out to verified customers on behalf of a company, asking specific questions and collecting authentic feedback about each product, service, or company being researched.
How to Spot Fake Reviews
We’ve all sifted through hundreds of reviews to find the right gift for Mother’s Day, the perfect pair of running shoes, or the best kitchen knife. And sometimes we’ve run across suspicious customer feedback. It’s not always easy to spot a fake review, but we’ve all seen at least one that we knew was fake.
4 red flags to look out for when reading reviews:
- Over-the-top descriptions. Over-enthusiastic language is a red flag. Some people are really excited about their experience, but if there are a lot of excited reviews with outrageous language, something might be fishy.
- Odd language choices. Paid fake reviewers are often not native English speakers, so you might see grammar and spelling errors or strange wording that the average reviewer wouldn’t use.
- Repeated phrases. If phrases, like the exact name of the product or part of the product description, are repeated throughout the review, someone may have been paid to write the review with certain criteria, including stuffing certain wording into the review as many times as possible.
- No concrete details. If a lengthy review does not describe specific details about the product or service, it may not be real. A fake review might tell a story about the context around the purchase but leave out the important, useful details that a real reviewer would include.
Keep in mind
You won’t always know if a review is fake or not. It’s impossible to tell 100 percent of the time which reviews are real. Even if the review is authentic, sometimes you can tell the source is untrustworthy, biased, or just had an unusual experience. Extreme reviews are often not a good reflection of the typical experience.
When looking at reviews, take them with a grain of salt and use your best judgement. If you see a pattern in feedback in what seem like authentic reviews, it’s probably a good reflection of a real pattern.
Using Online Reviews to Choose a Contractor
Finding a contractor is hard, but you can narrow down your list by using feedback from homeowners in your area.
5 things to look for when reading contractor reviews:
- Look for reviews that describe a service or project similar to the one you are looking for. These customers’ experiences will give you a more accurate prediction of what your experience will be like if you hire that contractor.
- Look for reviews that mention the contractor’s communication skills.
- Don’t just read all the best reviews or all the worst reviews. The in-between reviews with three- and four-star ratings will provide valuable information about what the contractor could do better and what they do well without the overzealous language sometimes used in five-star or one-star reviews.
- Pay particular attention to reviews from customer experiences within the last year. Reviews from this time frame will be a more accurate view of the company’s current and future performance.
- Go with your gut instinct. If you feel like the reviews don’t reflect what you want in a contractor, select someone else. Or, if you’re unsure after reading reviews, call the company and develop a first impression for yourself. An initial, low-risk phone interaction can tell you a lot about a company.
After you’ve sorted through reviews, follow these tips for hiring a contractor:
Request an estimate from more than one contractor. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket at the very beginning of the process. The experience of calling the company and scheduling an appointment for an estimate (or discussing an estimate over the phone) will give you a sense of what it is like to work with the company, and if your estimate experience isn’t good, that’s a sign you should go with another company.
Ask contractors for references. This way, you can get real-life reviews from actual customers. Of course, they’ll be the ones who had a good experience, but you’ll be able to tell from your interaction if they’re being up-front and honest about the company.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the contractor is invested in providing a good customer experience, they will patiently answer all the questions you may have about the process of the work you want done.
Choose someone you’re comfortable with. You will have to work with this contractor and have them in your home, so hire someone you can communicate well with and who seems trustworthy to you.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, choosing a contractor is your decision. Reviews from other homeowners can only do so much to help you make a choice, and it’s impossible to determine with total accuracy which reviews are real and which are fake.
Do your research, contact multiple contractors, ask the right questions, and you should be able to find a high-quality contractor for your home improvement project.
Not sure where to start your search? Start here with Best Pick Reports. We survey homeowners in your area to identify the top local contractors near you.