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Reviews help us decide if something is worth buying. If out of 13 reviews, 9 say the Bluetooth speaker you’re viewing is a good buy, why not add it to your wishlist?
However, there’s a chance that 8 of those 9 reviews are actually fake. It turns out, the speaker is actually not worth your money. But now that you’ve already bought it based on the “good” reviews, there’s not much you can do. If only there were a way to spot fake reviews…
Well, good news: there is! We at Carrot have come up with a list of ways you can figure out if a product review is fact or fiction.
Related: 6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Online Shopping Scams
What are fake reviews?
What we mean by fake is that the review isn’t genuine and is written to mislead readers into buying or not buying something. This means that the review was probably added by someone hired by the manufacturer. Or, the reviewer may be an actual customer but has another motive besides reviewing the product on its own merits.
But why would someone write fake online reviews? For money or freebies, of course. People who write fake reviews are generally paid to do so. They could either be professionals (it’s really a whole business) or regular shoppers. The latter usually buy the product because they need it. Once they receive their delivery, however, there’s a note by the seller promising them freebies or discounts if they leave a 5-star review.
Professionals are usually hired using freelance websites and job boards. They get paid to write fake reviews for products and most people manage to make an actual living out of this. Here’s one job posting for a fake online reviews writer:
So people write fake reviews to earn money. But why would someone get people to do that? To inflate their product rating, of course.
Obviously, if something has a good rating and even better reviews, you feel good about spending your hard-earned cash on it. And if it’s got a horrible rating, you’ll obviously look elsewhere.
Either way, we’ve established that fake reviews are a bane, and relying on them means we’re basically flushing our money down the drain. So let’s learn how to spot fake online reviews below!
How to spot fake reviews:
1. The review either only praises or only complains
A genuine review generally weighs both the pros and cons of a product or service. Even if you like the sound quality of a speaker, maybe the battery life was a little too short for your liking.
However, if a review states only amazing things about the speaker or reads like the speaker personally offended them, chances are it’s a fraud. It’s rare that an honest reviewer ever gives a full 5 stars to a product.
Here’s an example of a positive review for… snake oil?
2. Exaggerated and unrealistic
If you’re reviewing a product, you’ll write what you think about it straight-up. While reviewing a new shampoo, you’d write about how well it treats your hair. Maybe its fragrance and lather, too.
However, many fake reviews overexaggerate and write claims like, “this shampoo is the best thing that ever happened to me and I would die before using a different brand.” Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?
You could also see something like, “this shampoo changed my life! I’m never using anything else again!” This doesn’t only make little sense but is also a dead giveaway of a fake review.
3. Poorly written, super-short and vague reviews
Find fake reviews by looking for ones that are very vague and short – not more than a line or two. They say nothing about the usefulness of a product and only have a sentence-long blurb because they have to meet the minimum character limit.
Besides being short, many fake reviews have horrible grammar, too. And they’re written that way on purpose to mislead the reader. If they can’t understand the text, they’ll focus on the stars, right?
4. Reviews using big words and perfect grammar
How many of us actually write a product review like we’re writing our next big research paper? The answer would be… none! When we’re writing a review, we write it like we’re talking to a friend.
So, you’ll find a lot of fake reviews are written with impeccable grammar. It’s as if they’re trying to say, “I know what I’m talking about because my language is soooo perfect.”
The aim here is the same as above – confuse the reader by using complex sentences they can’t really understand. “This app is excellent in helping me construct my daily to-do list and turn it into a seamless experience.” We bet that all you got from that was “excellent”.
5. Check the reviewer’s “average rating”
That’s basically a combined average of all the reviews someone’s written to date. Fake reviews usually include either a full 5-star rating or a meager 1-star. That’s why their average rating is always closer to 5 (for positive reviews) or closer to 1 (for negative).
However, a genuine user who writes regular reviews usually doesn’t give 5 full stars to something unless it truly blows them away. That reflects in their average rating, which is ideally between 3-4.5 stars.
6. Repetition of phrases
Ever read a review and thought, “it’s just saying the exact same thing over and over again”? That’s because it’s fake and the person doesn’t actually know what else to write.
Looking for phrases like “great product” or “you won’t regret buying this” over and over again is one of the simplest ways to find fake reviews.
7. “Unverified” purchase
If the reviewer hasn’t purchased the product from the website they’re posting the review on, it’s an “unverified” purchase. This means we can never tell for sure if that person has actually bought or used that product. So obviously, we can’t trust that review.
However, many fake reviews are also verified. As we mentioned before, someone could have bought something out of genuine need, but once they received it, they get offered freebies to post a positive review. Or, a professional review writer may “purchase” the product and then write the review for an additional fee.
As the popularity of online shopping increases, so does the act of posting fake reviews. Though it may look difficult to weed out the fakers from the genuine, we hope our checklist on how you can spot fake reviews helps you make the best purchasing decisions you can! So the next time you decide to buy something online, you know what to keep handy!
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