You can’t trust negative reviews online – but they help

From the 1968 Carol Reed movie “Oliver”, winner of the Best Picture Oscar, Ron Moody plays Fagan and has a marvelous moment of lyrical bliss in a song called “Reviewing the situation”. Little did anyone think that 50 years on, his words would have such relevance on the  21st century addiction of shopping online.

I’m reviewing the situation, I’m a bad ‘un and a bad ‘un I shall stay!
You’ll be seeing no transformation – But it’s wrong to be a rogue in
ev’ry way.
I don’t want nobody hurt for me, or made to do the dirt for me.
This rotten life is not for me. It’s getting far too hot for me.
There is no in-between for me, But who will change the scene for me?……..
I think I’d better think it out again! Hey!

Funny how we now feel the need to review a review about the validity of reviews reviewing anything and everything from a potato peeler to a private jet. As the author of this review, or is it perhaps a comment on an article about reviews, I have succumbed to the overwhelming pressure on occasions to write a review or two.

With my sometimes poison poised pen I have created literary work that would certainly sway those of sound mind and body one way or another. Let me clarify on that “sometimes”; its always poised and only sometimes poison.

I digress. I get motivated to comment when I have been aggrieved in one way or another; if I am feeling ripped off, if I feel I have received less than that for which I contracted, or if I am disappointed by some aspect of timeliness, handling, quality or general service.

I do take some moral high ground here, because if the product or service has disappointed, I always give the vendor an opportunity to make good. That opportunity means that the subject of the review can switch from the product or service to the “customer” service that follows.

If I get an overcooked or cold meal and I send it back, how the restaurant handles that can work as amnesia  – I can forget the bad meal because they acted quickly professionally, didn’t make me feel bad, replaced the meal and gave some other token of an apology. For that they would get an excellent review because despite the hiccup with the first meal (of which there would be no mention), they then reached or exceeded my expectations on putting right what went wrong.

Or of course they can kill the opportunity to shine by handling their error in as bad a way as the product was bad in the first place, in which case a scathing review will follow.

I hate the reviews where a chance hasn’t been given to the vendor to make good – that is really unfair!

Equally I hate the reviews that appear to have been written by the vendor’s mother.

If you are going to write a review, give good reason for a 5 star review, and make damn sure you are not dumping 5 stars on an establishment because you had a great night that night, where afterwards your date took you to new heights of adult pleasure! That had little to do with the taxi firm or restaurant or bar or hotel for which you decided to wax lyrical and award 5 star reviews. At least be honest and say “I honestly don’t remember my taxi-ride / meal / drinks that night but I did get lucky so thank you!”

So how do you differentiate between fake reviews and real ones? I agree with the comments that the midway reviews are most likely to be honest, however it won’t be long before these too are manipulated to colour the true picture!

Get a feel for the reviewers and the reviews, read a few, identify the consensus, then check the negatives, see if there is a trend within them.

Just remember that a glowing review of Hooters might have very little to do with the Mile Island Hot Wings flavor and succulence!

The New York Times has a great article siting the evolving issues with online reviews.

We use reviews to vet our options. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 82 percent of American adults say they sometimes or always read online reviews for new purchases. And more than two-thirds of regular review readers believe that they’re “generally accurate.”

Marketing data indicates that negative reviews in particular dramatically influence our buying behaviors. But research on the biases and demographics of online reviewers — and our own, often errant interpretations — suggests that our faith in reviews is misguided.

There are many more positive reviews online than there are negative ones, studies show, which creates a scarcity of negative reviews that we associate with value.

For instance: In a data sample from Amazon, just 4.8 percent of reviews with a verified purchase were rated one star, whereas 59 percent had five stars, according to a study published in 2014 by The Journal of Marketing Research and led by Duncan Simester, a marketing professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

“The infrequent nature of negative reviews may help to distinguish them from other reviews,” Dr. Simester wrote in an email. We consequently pay more attention to them.

You should also consider…

We also think of negative reviews as windows into what could go wrong. Is this camera’s memory card going to go kaput in the middle of my honeymoon? Are these socks scratchy? Dr. Simester pointed out that people may see negative reviews as more informative, and therefore more valuable, than positive ones because they highlight defects — even if they’re not actually more accurate.

“We want to feel secure in our decision-making processes,” said Lauren Dragan, who analyzes consumer feedback as the audio tech products reviewer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products. We use negative reviews to understand our risk and reduce our losses, studies show.

Plus, after reports that five-star reviews are frequently fake, people may depend on negative reviews more than positive ones because they see them as more trustworthy.

You can read the full New York Times article at…

Why you can’t Trust Negative Reviews


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