When I’m shopping online, one thing I often do is look at the reviews. After all, if something has great reviews, it’s probably something to consider buying. If all the reviews are terrible, maybe I want to rethink the purchase. But how do I know which reviews are trustworthy? Read on to learn how to identify a fake product review.
Was the reviewer compensated?
If someone is given an item in exchange for a review, by law, the review has to state that information (Does that mean this always happens? Of course not.) So when you’re looking at a review, take a look to see if the person received the product free in exchange for a review or if they were compensated in some way for their review? That doesn’t necessarily mean the review is fake – a good reviewer will do an honest job and give you the positives and negatives of the item. But if someone is getting paid, they’re probably more likely to provide a positive review.
I’ve been offered the opportunity to try items in exchange for a review, and for some items, I’ve gone for it. But more than once, I’ve had to tell the sender “Hey, I didn’t really like your product, so either I don’t do the review or I give you a bad review – which would you prefer.” Clearly, I don’t end up writing those reviews.
Are there a surprising number of perfect reviews?
Does a relatively unknown product have a lot of five star reviews on a site like Amazon? Is the text of the review pretty generic? This is a big sign that the reviews are fake. Companies will buy fake reviews in order to boost their items in the search ranking. So don’t just look at the number of stars, but take time to dig into the reviews themselves. Are you seeing a lot of repeated phrases in the reviews? That’s a key sign that the reviewers were told what to say in their review. This is an easy way to identify a fake product review.
Additionally, does it seem like all the reviews are either five stars or one/two stars? People either absolutely loved the product or hated it, no middle ground? That’s certainly a red flag. Take some time to read those one and two star reviews.
Check the Grammar and Spelling
Now, I’m not here to say that you have to have perfect grammar and spelling to be able to review a product. But a lot of times, these companies hire inexpensive content farms to create their fake reviews. People are paid pennies to churn out fake reviews, and you often don’t need a whole lot of qualifications to get these gigs. While a few reviews with poor grammar are to be expected, if the product page is riddled with them, that’s a clear sign these were purchased reviews and aren’t legitimate.
Use a Fake Review Spotter
Did you know there are sites out there that will help you identify a fake product review? ReviewMeta will help you identify fake Amazon product reviews and FakeSpot is a browser extension that will identify fake reviews on Amazon, Sephora, Walmart, and more. It’s really interesting to see how many fake reviews there are out there – and also how many real reviews there are. I’m definitely going to be using these sites as we buy baby proofing products for our house.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.