Fake reviews on review platforms (Google Reviews should not be trusted)

Fake reviews are a major personal pet peeve of mine as a consumer. I’ve been misled with fake reviews in the past at not so insignificant financial cost to myself, and as people can imagine I don’t take lightly to any business found willfully and deceitfully manipulating their reputation on a large and ongoing scale or otherwise found assisting other entities in the practice.

Over to North America, looks like the practice of Dental Practices manipulating their online reputation have been well observed and documented according to the article on Dental Economics and video on YouTube. In this instance, I have to say I agree with the presenter in that Google reviews simply cannot be trusted and would strongly urge others to similarly understand and recognize this. I would not at all be surprised to learn that some Dental Clinics in New Zealand have been falsifying their reviews as well.

Speaking generally, I now check the integrity of the reviews for any given business closely, particularly if my dealings with any given business is likely to exceed a thousand dollars. While I do read the reviews themselves particularly to check for repeating patterns, I lend more weight to checking for evidence of willful and widespread manipulation.

If there is evidence discovered that suggests a business has willfully gone to manipulated their reviews on a sizeable scale, then that business can expect to lose me as a (prospective) client. I feel it is reasonable to question, if a business is prepared to post multiple fake reviews or otherwise manipulate their online reputation on a sizeable scale, what other antics could they be up to that may work against me as their customer?

(My) red warning flags include…

  • A implausibly “Perfect” overall 5.0 star rating out of several dozens of reviews (e.g across over 60-80 reviews)
  • Reviews written using language more consistent to being an advertorial as opposed to a review by a customer of the business.
  • Excess use of hyperbole in a rather repeating style/pattern throughout several reviews.
  • An influx or burst in the volume of positive reviews, particularly if the influx is associated with an overall ratings increase.

The reality is, it becomes very difficult, if not actually impossible to both achieve and maintain a genuinely perfect 5.0 star rating past a review count past say 60-80. It would be reasonable to see a few 4 star ratings at least in amongst that will likely weigh the rating down from 5.0. The reason being It’s not humanely possible to please everyone all of the time, misunderstandings occur all the time and given the human race being what it is you will no doubt get the odd unreasonable and dare I say, unhinged customer that is simply just impossible to please in spite of reasonable attempts to resolve the matter with the said reviewer.

In fact, as a customer, I would probably feel more comfortable engaging with a business that has a couple of bad reviews where the business has taken the time to respond in a calm and collected manner (without accusation and ad homiem attacks) to present their side of the story even if it’s to say they don’t recognize dealing with the customer/reviewer and offering the reviewer to contact the business to resolve the matter.

I wonder if there needs to be an official consumer advisory warning consumers about putting too much faith in Google Reviews? May be even a public education campaign?

Fake reviews on review platforms (Google Reviews should not be trusted)

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