[picture – Each child only sees the part s/he is examining – old proverb]
Online reviews of a product or service can be very useful and most people buying online do check out such reviews first.
Surveys suggest that more than half of the adults in Britain, around 25 million people, use online reviews such as on Amazon, eBAY, Tripadvisor, Foursquare and Checkatrade to provide confidence in the product or service and find the best deals.
We rely on those reviews being honest – by people who have actually used the relevant product or service and giving their honest opinions.
But, some companies cheat – they pay others to create fake reviews in order to get more business. Sometimes they try to cover up bad reviews by posting lots of fake positive reviews and so on. This distorts the situation and is dishonest. If a company ‘distorts’ online reviews then they are in breach of the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The Competition and Markets Authority says that shoppers who use the internet to research hotels, books, electronics and other purchases are being routinely misled by millions of fake reviews orchestrated by companies to trick potential customers.
This problem of distortion is not new. Magazine reviews have always been a little suspect as it is well known that the reviewers are given free products and sometimes trips to great places to review the products. So is their opinion completely unaffected?
Also, the bloggers and vloggers who do product reviews face this problem as their opinions can carry a lot of weight but they are commonly offered free products to test. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
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In conclusion, online reviews can be very helpful but you do have to consider why the author of such reviews wrote them – was there any self interest involved or monetary benefit?
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