Updated July 28, 2023
The convenience of the internet has made it unbelievably easy for people to leave a review for products, services, companies, and everything in between. This is great because reviews are useful to potential customers, helping them make better hiring and buying decisions. However, it also makes it easier to leave a fake review that can dupe unsuspecting customers.
Customers have grown accustom to having these reviews, and a high percentage of consumer decisions are now based on online customer reviews. However, the importance of reviews paired with the accessibility of leaving one has caused an increase in false reviews, too. It might be surprising (and concerning) to know that an average of 39% of online reviews are fake.
There are a variety of motives behind leaving a fake review for a product, service, or company. For example, an employee or boss of a company may be looking to improve their company's reputation, or a proud aunt may be looking to announce how great their family's new business is. Conversely, a local competitor or scorned ex could easily leave a completely fake online review for a service they never actually received, all with the intent of deterring business away from that particular company.
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 chance that these fake reviews could be believed and taken into a person's hiring consideration. To help customers with spotting these fake reviews, we've listed four of the biggest things to watch out for in this guide.
Studies have shown that reviews including multiple exclamation points have a higher instance of being fake, and this goes for both positive and negative reviews. People taking the time to leave real reviews for services they've actually received or products they've actually bought tend to be direct and straightforward in their reviews. They don't typically use a lot of emotional language or exclamation points.
Overly passionate reviews come in many shapes and forms. Keep an eye out for any of these types of examples:
"I loved working with this company!!! It was the best service I've ever received!!"
"Do not hire this company!! Their staff yelled at me!!! I will NEVER go back!!!!"
"My neighbors own this company and they are good people. Don't go to anyone else!! The husband & wife are so kind to me and my husband and they have an adorable toddler!"
"The co-owner was my best friend until he slept with my wife and ruined my family's life!!! Do not trust him unless you want the same to happen to you."
Amount of Details
If a review is incredibly vague—that is, it's very short in length and doesn't include any pertinent, useful details—there's a decent probability it's fake. At best, it's a vague review that doesn't tell you anything beyond the most basic fact of whether or not the services were good. At worst, it's a completely fake, albeit short, review that could sway you in the wrong direction.
As most companies know, getting customers to leave reviews can sometimes be challenging. Customers have to take time out of their day to leave a review, so when a customer uses their valuable time to go to the trouble of leaving a review of any kind, it's likely they will also take the time to mention what they did or didn't like about said good or service.
Because reviews take time and effort to get, an unfortunately all-too-common strategy is hiring off-shore companies that specialize in leaving reviews to pose as a real-life customer. These companies will create dozens or even hundreds 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, product, or service in question.
Since these people are writing multiple reviews, they tend to keep it short and sweet for efficiency's sake.
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.
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Review Has Not Been Verified
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.