Buyers Guide: Not All Reviews Are Equal

One thing I love about the blog here on Rising Sun Pools is that it gives me the opportunity to talk about things that I think really matter to our customers. Recently, I published a post for  Aqua (a publication directed at pool and spa professionals) discussing how big of a distraction online review sites like yelp can be for business owners. I think that that this message applies to our customers as well, so I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the dangers of online reviews, and some helpful tips to spotting the good from the bad.

According to a CNBC post on the topic, almost 80% of consumers trust reviews online. But there is so much variance in the quality of online reviews that it can be hard to see the truth through the fog. Plus, some online review sites use negative reviews as a weapon to increase their online ad sales (forcing businesses to buy ads to push negative reviews down). This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t trust online reviews, or that online reviews can’t be helpful. You should just always try to look at reviews in more than one light. Here
are a few tips to ensure you are getting the most out of the reviews you read:

  1. Beware of Fake Reviews: Fake reviews can happen on almost any reviewable site. Some companies have even encouraged bad reviews as part of their marketing strategy (like this restaurant in Richmond, California). Be on the lookout for reviews that are overly sarcastic, or have a ring of inauthenticity to them as these can be signs of a fake review.
  2. Read reviews with a skeptical eye: Many reviews are written in the heat of the moment, and rarely do you have the opportunity to see the outcome of a negative review. If the business responds, take into account what the owners have to say. Be sure to be on the look out for reviewers who are only upset due to “lack of refunds” or other similar complaints, as they can often be part of misleading reviews. Read the reviews with a skeptical eye and use your best judgement to decide if the reviewer has a valid point.
  3. Read other reviews by the same reviewer: Most sites allow you to look up other reviews by the same user. Take the time to look at a reviewer’s history. If they only leave bad reviews (or only leave good reviews) you may want to trust their opinions a little less. Also be on the lookout for “first time” or “one-time” reviewers.
  4. Read at least a dozen reviews: the CNBC article offers one great piece of advice that anyone using online review sites should adhere to: read at least a dozen reviews from a variety of review sites. Only by comparing a variety of responses from a variety of sources can you get a true understanding of a company.

Of course online reviews can’t tell the whole story. I always encourage customers to look for well-established companies when buying any product or service. Never be afraid to call up the business and ask them to tell you about their successes. Any company that has been in business will have plenty of stories about their successes, failures and how they handled each situation, I know we do at Rising Sun Pools!


Tara Onthank is the Co-Owner of Rising Sun Pools and Spas