What started out as a decent idea, customer reviews and the sites that encourage them (Yelp.com, Google+, Etc.) are seeing a backlash from consumers. The truth is that most customers know bogus reviews when they read them and are increasingly not paying attention to them. “The time has come when customer reviews have become irrelevant” said a leading internet market research firm. This observation is based upon the glaring fact that most positive reviews are posted by the owners of a business or their close friends and family, while the negative reviews are posted by jealous competitors.
As with Ebay and other sites that are dependent upon user reviews, there is no fair and impartial oversight to the review process. Most reviews (either good or bad) that are obviously fraudulent are left as is by the companies that host these reviews, unless of course you decide to pay them to take them down. Our staff has been contacted by numerous shop owners that have alerted Google, Yelp or Yahoo when they were assaulted with bogus negative reviews by competitors only to be offered paid advertising with the implication that if they paid the reviews would disappear. If this sounds like extortion, it is to a certain degree, and it is big business. Fortunately for the hard-working small shop owners out there that have suffered quietly as their public images have been smeared by envious competitors, there is growing evidence that propaganda-weary consumers are ignoring reviews altogether. In an informal survey taken by the BodyPiercingNews.com we found that when asked if business reviews could be trusted at face value, only a mere 11% said they thought they were real. When those that distrusted online reviews were asked who they thought actually wrote the reviews, over 90% believed online reviews were written either by the business owners themselves or by the businesses’ competitors, tough business in the world of body piercing. With over 90% of people already disregarding online reviews, is it any wonder that the revenues and traffic to search sites is dwindling? What do you think about online reviews? As always, we welcome your opinion.
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