News broke yesterday that Amazon.com is suing people who post fake reviews on the site. The fact that there are fake reviews troubles me. Not only because of the fraud factor but also because I rarely buy anything these days–or book a hotel room or make a restaurant reservation–without first reading product reviews.
I first started using product reviews about 20 years ago, when my husband and I were in the market for our first new car. We purchased a subscription to Consumer Reports so we could have access to the magazine’s database of best cars. To be honest every time we need to buy a car, we turn to Consumer Reports.
I’ve also used Consumer Reports when purchasing a vacuum cleaner and buying paint to paint our house. Now, granted, these are experts doing product reviews but they are reviews nonetheless.
I think it was when Amazon exploded in the marketplace (about 1996 for me) that reviews of books online took off. And then before you knew it people were reviewing everything.
To be honest these days I don’t make any spending decision without first reading reviews–even if they’re from people I don’t know. For example, for three years the financial expert for HomeAdvisor and got that gig because I used the service as a real-life consumer for years. I loved being able to read reviews of contractors so I could make a smart decision when hiring one. I knew what he/she charged, if that person showed up on time, finished the job as promised, and really delivered.
When our family travels, we always read reviews on TripAdvisor for booking places to stay. I’ll even add reviews when I have a great experience somewhere on the road, such as the Chicago hotel in the snapshot above. We found the flat we stayed in during a trip to Paris via TripAdvisor (and were able to book it, too). It was the same with our apartment in Barcelona, Spain, when we visited this past summer.
When I buy shoes, I’m all about the reviews on Zappos.
And the list just goes on.
I believe that having these product reviews has helped me to save money. When I am shopping for something I need, if the reviews don’t hold up, I don’t buy. I’d rather regret not being able to get something I needed or wanted than having buyer’s remorse about a product that didn’t deliver.