When I research something I want to buy, I meticulously read the reviews. The brilliance of the internet gives us the chance to have a virtual huddle with people who have tried the product or service. Their reviews give us insider info on the brands we’re interested in BEFORE we pull the trigger. I’m going to explain why I find reviews helpful and some of the things I look for when I go through them.
Why are reviews worth checking?
When I look at reviews, I find them to be valuable for these reasons:
They’re informative: Reviews make space for a more informed and connected consumer base.
They offer clarity: Reading reviews takes the mystery out of trying a new brand or service.
They tend to be authentic: You can find unbiased insights from other purchasers instead of salespeople.
You get a sense of the brand’s personality and integrity: When a product or service has reviews available on their website, you can start to get a sense of how the company responds to negative feedback and how much they truly stand behind their brand promise.
What to look for
If you decide to dive into some reviews, here are some things to think about:
1. Where are the reviews coming from?
Try to look for reviews that come from a reputable site you trust. I like to think that when the brand posts public reviews of their products on their website, it’s a good sign. It signals to me that they are transparent and stand behind their quality.
2. Have you diversified your sources of information?
I like to dig around a little. It’s helpful to check multiple websites or forums to gather as much info as possible. You may consider looking at Facebook and Instagram to find out what people are saying about the brand on social media.
3. How much can I trust this review?
Is the review from a verified buyer? Sometimes websites will post a little check-mark next to the name of a purchaser to indicate the person actually bought the goods or service. This can be useful to determine how credible the review is.
Are they exaggerating? Sometimes people can be unfair in reviews. Use your judgment and take individual reviews with a pinch of salt.
Are you detecting bias? Fake reviews are not uncommon. We’ve written some tips for spotting a fake review.
4. Is there a theme emerging?
A positive or negative theme will give you a solid sense of how others feel about the business or product. One roque negative review isn’t worth much in my opinion, but if I see a theme where multiple people are saying the same thing, the issue appears to be more valid.
5. What is the business’s response to negative reviews?
Responses to negativity will shed light on how they work to resolve consumer issues. Are they offering solutions? Are they helpful?
Did we miss something? Share your tips and tricks for reading reviews in the comments section.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
2 thoughts on “The art of reading reviews”
Are you a branch of the Provincial government? Do you have any authority to investigate or prosecute cases of consumer fraud, or are you more like the BBB?
There are numerous cases of fraud being committed against consumers by wealthy corporations, but no consumer protection agency ever seems to address them. Is there no political will to take on powerful corporations and industries,or is there no agency with the authority to do so?
I am very much in favor of consumer protection agencies IF they have some clout.
Hi Don, thanks for the questions. While we are not technically a part of Government, we are a provincial regulator that has an agreement with the Government of BC to license certain industries and enforce certain consumer protection laws. To answer your question, we do have the authority to investigate consumer issues that fall under our authority, order consumer refunds, and fine businesses who have broken the laws we oversee – but we do not have any authority when it comes to scams or fraud. Scams and fraud are usually dealt with by the police/RCMP. There’s also the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CFAC) – a federal organization that acts as the central repository for information about fraud in Canada. Consumers can also report fraud to the CAFC. You can learn more about them on their website: https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/about-ausujet/index-eng.htm
To learn more about the industries we regulate, the specific laws we oversee, and our authority and governance, you can check out this page here: About us – Consumer Protection BC . I hope this helps!