With advancements in technology and the convenience of the internet, a high percentage of consumer decisions are based on online customer reviews.
With that in mind, there are a variety of motives behind leaving a false review for a product or service.
An average of 39% of all online reviews are fake.
An employee may be incentivized by their boss, or a proud aunt may be driven by love, to leave a gleaming 5-star review for a company on Google.
Conversely, a local competitor or scorned ex could easily leave a completely false online review for a service they never actually received, all with the intent of deterring business away from that particular company.
The younger generation that grew up with the internet (18-34 year-olds) have reported spotting false online reviews at a much higher rate than older generations, likely due to the fact that they have more exposure to different types of dialect used across the web.
Unfortunately, there is such a high volume of false reviews online that even for people are who are good at spotting them, there's still a great chance that they could be fooled by online campaigns created to influence their purchasing decisions.
We've come up with a list of 4 things to look for when determining if the reviews you're reading are real or not.
- Overly Passionate
- Amount of Details
- Poor Grammar and/or Spelling
- Website Has Not Verified the Review
As mentioned above, a passionate review can go one of two ways: positive or negative.
Studies have shown that reviews that use multiple exclamation points are more likely to be fake and written with an agenda.
It's not by accident, either.
For whatever reason, people taking the time to leave real reviews on goods and services they've actually received are less likely to format their text in this way, even if they type this way on other websites.
Social media platforms are full of overly enthusiastic comments with an emphasis on emotion via multiple exclamation points for all our friends and family to see.
We tend to take on a more professional tone, however, when leaving a review online that we know other consumers we do not personally know will see.
Because it is so common to see people type this way!!! in our everyday feed while scrolling, people leaving false reviews intentionally include this in their text to make their reviews seem more authentic.
With this in mind, here are a few examples of what we're talking about:
- Companies writing reviews on themselves:
"I loved working with this company!!! It was the best service I've ever received!!"
- Companies writing reviews on a competitor:
"This place was a total dump!! Their staff was so rude!!! I will NEVER go back!!!!"
- Current mother-in-law:
"We won't go to anyone else!! The husband & wife team at this company is incredible and they have an adorable toddler!!!!"
- Ex mother-in-law:
"This company ruined my family's life!!! The owner is a liar and a cheat!! Do not trust!!!!!!"
You get the picture.
Amount of Details
While it isn't always the case, reviews that are very short in length can oftentimes be fake.
As most companies will tell you, getting customers to leave reviews can sometimes be difficult.
So, when a customer takes special time out of their day to go through the trouble of leaving any kind of review, it's likely that they will also take the time to mention what they did or didn't like about said good or service.
There are off-shore companies that businesses can hire to create a marketing campaign targeted to build online exposure via a false "customer base."
These companies will create dozens of burner email accounts that allow them to leave not one, but multiple fake reviews intended to boost the confidence consumers have in the company in question.
Since these people are writing multiple reviews, they tend to keep it short and sweet for time efficiency.
Not to mention the fact that they likely couldn't mention specific details even if they tried due to the fact that they've never actually encountered the product or service they are reviewing.
On the contrary, a long-winded review that goes into all details and specs related to a service or product could also be a fake review intended to market their service or product to the public.
While a happy customer may mention a few features that they particularly love about a product or service, it's not likely that they will write out every last one in detail.
Poor Grammar and/or Spelling
"Reviewers" from overseas usually speak English as a second language, which can sometimes make grammar, spelling, and punctuation stand out.
There are tons of real, authentic reviews online written by real customers who do not speak English as their first language; these aren't the reviews we're talking about.
It's when we pair the obvious second-language grammar with the signs mentioned above (several exclamation points and little to no details), that these reviews jump out as fake.
Internet plug-ins and bots are helping to fix a lot of these errors, but they aren't yet foolproof.
Website Has Not Verified the Review
The uphill battle to eliminate fake online reviews has driven many companies to hire their own team to verify that the reviews being left are authentic.
It's extra money out of their pocket to employ people to do so, but it is an important step in maintaining a website's integrity.
Mega companies like Amazon receive such a high volume of customer reviews that they cannot possibly verify every single review published, but they do employ a staff whose job it is to verify at least some.
Other companies, like us at Hometown, service a more manageable amount of clientele that allows them to only publish verified customer reviews.
Big or small, websites that verify customer reviews do not filter through positive or negative reviews; they publish real reviews whether they are good or bad.
What they filter through are reviews submitted that they can confirm through a paper trail to make sure they were written by real customers who paid real money for the product or service they are leaving a review on.
At Hometown, we personally verify every review submitted to our site before we publish it so that customers in need of a dumpster rental or junk removal service can feel confident in making a decision.
We believe in not only supporting locally-owned companies but making sure that clients have an honest experience when inviting these services into their home or business.