There is a lot to love about the internet we have today. It allows people to shop, get news, do their banking, view test results, work, and watch the latest in sporting events and live entertainment from all over the globe in the comfort of their own homes. People can also order food from their favorite restaurants and book appointments or hotel rooms from virtually anywhere. It is quite hard to pinpoint the best thing about our world wide web, really. Many folks feel that the greatest thing about it is it allows us to share reviews and ratings of goods and services. Some feel that those who leave negative responses about a merchant or business are doing so from a place of pettiness, but bad reviews can be more helpful than harmful in the long run.
Bad reviews are not always random clumps of mud slung at a well-meaning merchant. There are times when a business is really doing bad things that earn the anger of its clientele. For example, a restaurant may advertise that they serve a dish made with fresh seafood, but the meat is either poor quality or imitation. Another common example comes from the car sales industry – the addition of hidden fees after a set price has already been negotiated. Nothing is more frustrating to consumers than finding out they have to pay a few thousand extra for their car when all is said and done!
Back in the days before the internet review websites, these were common occurrences. It was largely due to the fact that consumers had no easy way to get the word out about their experience with deceptive business practices. Most people did not have the time or energy to deal with filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or to lodge an official complaint with the government. Unscrupulous business owners were well aware of this, and thus, felt free to rip-off their customers with minimal risk of bad publicity.
With the advent of internet review websites consumers were finally able to gain the upper hand. They could share their experiences about dealing with dishonest merchants with one another, commiserate, and issue virtual justice using a barrage of low, one-star ratings. This newfound power of the people began forcing a lot of merchants to be more ethical and trustworthy in their transactions, or risk a backlash that could threaten their financial security. The trend of bad reviews for bad business behavior continues to this day, and many feel it has made the world a better, more positive place.
A small subset of businesses may continue to engage in dishonest practices against their own paying customers. They rely on people being too lazy to do thorough research, as many people will just look at the average review rating. So these companies can pay people to create fake positive reviews that will show up first on review websites and obscure most or all the negative ones. For example, a bad company can have ten 1-star (bad) reviews with an average rating of 1 star. If they pay people create ninety fake 5 star reviews, it will bring their average rating up to 4.6 stars. Some people may simply glance at the reviews and see the 4.6 star average rating and immediately conclude they are dealing with a reputable business. Savvy consumers are catching on, however. The only way to overcome this deceptive practice is to flip the script – consumers should always sort the reviews from worst-to-best, so the bad reviews appear at the top. Bad business owners can create as many fake reviews as they want to bring up their average rating and bury real reviews, but they are mostly helpless when it comes to removing bad reviews. Be sure to read all the reviews so you are aware of the types of issues people are complaining about and so you can judge for yourself which reviews seem authentic before making a decision about a purchase. This one extra step can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding rip-offs.
For more information on online reviews, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.