Friday, February 8, 2013

Another Reason Not to Trust What You Read Online

Boy, you can't trust anything anymore.

A handy dandy online tool is to look at the reviews of businesses with which you want to deal. You can go on Yelp and Angie's List or any other review site to see if people like them or warn you away.
Brad Newman and his "review card" that lets businesses
know they're being reviewed.

But there are so many ways those reviews are manipulated, or manipulative, that you have to wonder if you can trust anything.

Writing in the L.A. Times, David Lazarus says a California guy named Brad Newman has started a business called ReviewerCard. People who get one of these cards show them to a place they're going to review, say a restaurant, to tell the business owners to expect a review.

Newman is quoted as saying "I'm going to review them anyway, so why not let them know in advance? I'm not hurting anyone."

Well, yes your are, Brad. How can we trust the review you posted if we suspect the business you're describing went off the charts trying to give you good service, above everybody else, to avoid a bad review?

The web site The Consumerist has this take:

"For instance, he tells Lazarus about walking into a Geneva hotel, showing his card to the desk clerk and asking for 50% off the room price in exchange for a positive TripAdvisor review. He claims he was successful. And then there’s the time he says he was able to skip the line at some Chicago restaurant by showing his card."

The bottom line comes down to this, The Consumerist notes:

"Other customers, who should be just as important as any online reviewer, could be receiving worse service because attention is focused on the cardholder. And the reputation of the review site is damaged, as the business will view it as a place for bullies and consumers will learn they can’t trust the reviews."

I wonder if Yelp, Angie's List or any other online review outfit can somehow screen reviews. Are they jacked up by the ReviewCard? Or are they an honest assesment of the customer's experience?

I guess you have to figure out if a business is good the old fashioned way. Ask a trusted friend or just go see for yourself.

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