GUIDE TO SANE GIFT SHOPPING & GIVING
If you’re making a large purchase, read reviews from several sites, retailers and otherwise. Do keep in mind that there are sources with nothing to gain from reviews. I’ve added a few more to the ones CBS mentioned:
You’ll find product reviews on price comparison/deal, retailer’s and blogger’s sites. Some of them have begun to pay consumers to write positive reviews. It’s too much for some companies to resist. Bad reviews can cost companies money—lots of money. Some companies put up fake reviews. TheNY Times discusses this practice. It’s a good article to help understand how this practice works.
It might look enticing, but is it really?
Experts suggest employing these tips to avoid being seduced:
1) Click on the “reviewers” name/handle to bring up other reviews they’ve done. Are there too many to be believable? Have they reviewed several different variations of the same product? Are they effusive in every review?
2) Did the reviewer do several reviews on the same day and/or within a small window of time?
3) Does a glowing review seem out of kilter with the product to you? For example, someone rhapsodizing about a hair ornament.
4) Does the review contain marketing speak? For instance, they describe something as “lightening fast”.
5) Does the review include specific specifications like model numbers?
6) Does the review fail to discuss the reliability, performance, and perceived value of product being reviewed? An average consumer would note these things in a review.
Lifehacker offers more suggestions for spotting fake reviews here.
The FCC says fake reviewing is a pervasive practice. They claim it’s difficult, and tedious, to uncover and prosecute the fake reviews; and have neither the budget nor staff for this task. Additionally, the FCC only acts on reported incidents.
So, if you encounter a retailer, product manufacturer or comparison site soliciting glowing reviews for cash or goods, report them to the FCC.
A couple of articles (below) from PerformInsider.com help clarify this issue. Although these are meant as a caution to businesses, it could also help you recognize foul play. Sure, some will say reporting will be useless given the governmental agencies track record. However, no change happens if there’s no change agent.
Also, pay attention. Be cautious. Buyer beware has taken on a whole new dimension.
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