Let’s talk about online reviews. We are so very fortune these days to have the internet. It’s such a great resource and virtually everything can be looked up and researched from the privacy of our homes, but in my opinion, some websites take advantage of the public’s generosity for their own financial gain and offer little in return.
This is something I’ve been pondering for a few years and in this post I will discuss the Pros and Cons of writing reviews for products and services, and why this might not be the best use of your valuable time….Yes, there are more Cons Than Pros…
Tips help people:
OK so I admit that on occasion I have made good use of the ‘tips and tricks’ people have posted on review sites about particular businesses. Tips such as opening/closing times, addresses and basic information about products and services. It’s a great resource when emotion and personal opinion is taken out of the equation and people just stick to the facts, but unfortunately that’s not typical human nature.
Good for overseas travel:
One thing I do notice when I research my overseas trips is that there is not a lot of information online, even for high tourist areas. So in this instance, the very little reviews about hotels and restaurants is quite valuable. You will be lucky to find maybe 1-5 user reviews on Trip Adviser, and a couple on booking websites and I actually do read them because there is a lot more at steak traveling to another part of the world with different standards and cultures and not knowing where the hell you will end up. In This instance however, I do prefer to read online blogs. These people are usually experienced travelers and restaurant goers and have intelligent things to say and unbiased tips to give.
Takes up too much time:
So on one of my typical road trips I stay at 20 hotels, eat at 60 restaurants and visit 40 museums and amusements. So that’s 120 reviews I would have to write after every trip if I was serious about giving fair feedback for everything I’ve seen, done and ate. That’s a HUGE time investment. I have a home life like everybody else and that’s just too much to ask of anyone. There are people on Yelp who actually eat out every day and write reviews every day. If that’s your idea of recreational fun then have at it, but I can’t help but think that time could be better spend learning, traveling and bettering yourself.
Little to no rewards:
There really is little to no rewards for the vast amount of time spent writing reviews. Sure some booking websites offer discounts after writing 10 or so, but how many actually make use of it? Look the only people benefiting from writing reviews is the websites themselves. It’s true, human psychology suggests that people are much more likely to buy a product that has a lot of reviews and more positive reviews than negative, regardless of what they say, and that means these sites get to sell more products and drive in more traffic.
Doing other peoples work for them:
Yup, you are doing other people’s work for them literally for free and they are sitting there reaping in the rewards and profits. It’s their business and their responsibility to sell products and drive traffic to their sites, not yours,and yet you are being used specifically for this purpose. It’s free marketing, free advertising and free labor. Do they give you a percentage of the profits for spending the 30+ minutes to takes to write a detailed review each time? nope. Do they even ask buyers if there has been a particular review that has influenced their purchasing decisions, and then offer you a reward or compensation for that? nope.. Sorry sucker, you’ve been had, and thanks for playing along!
Review sites are biased:
Not only are they getting your labor for free they are taking your intellectual property and using it at whim however they see fit. It’s true, they edit your posts, especially the negative aspects and then rank your review based on what marketing strategy they have figured out works best for them. For example they will put the more positive/favorable reviews up the top and taper down to the negative ones, and review sites like Yelp will actually hide your review in a section they call “Not Recommended”. Wow really? who are they to say that your review is not as informative or important as somebody else’s?
Take my review of them now for example, there is no way in hell they would allow me to publish any of this on their websites. Why? Because they are on a good ride and don’t want people knowing the truth. Our job is to shut up and keep writing those reviews!
Review sites have far too much power:
Uhuh, a group of dudes have registered a web domain to create a review based site and a couple of years down the line they now have to power to hold every single restaurant, hotel, local business and major conglomerate in the palm of their hands. These review sites literally hold the public’s purchasing power at ransom and toy with it at will.
Not only are they unfairly biased towards businesses, but they pick out favorite writers with their “Top Reviewer” and “Elite Status” programs that basically say, “Thanks for conforming and doing what we want of you all this time and we are now going to tell the world that you are truly one of Santa’s little friends”…..
They also send out their favorite businesses marketing materials that say “Find us on this website” and “like/review us on …”. This serves 2 purposes. It let’s people know that this restaurant is one who complies with what the review sites like, AND it gets people to link back to the website to write more reviews and generate more profits, hits and power! sneaky sneaky but I’m onto you…..
Businesses offer bribes:
This is the main reason I stopped writing reviews. Sites like Yelp say that businesses can’t pay to have reviews put on or taken off BUT, companies do contact reviewers privately and offer bribes and incentives in exchange for positive reviews. This happened to me a couple of times on the odd occasion when I did write a less than glowing review. The company would contact me and say “Hey we are so sorry you didn’t enjoy your time with us, here’s a $25-50 gift card for you to come back and then wrote another review.” Now if I was that type of asshole, I could probably get at least 2-3 free dinners every week. I’m not even kidding.
So this made me think, just because I refused to take part in this, doesn’t mean that others haven’t done it and I know for a fact that they have! so what’s the point then, if all these review sites are a hodgepodge of real reviews, negative ones, biased ones and paid ones? How can you tell whats real and genuine and what’s not? oh that’s right you can’t….Back away, not today, sexy lady!
Open yourself up to attack:
If you write a review that someone doesn’t like, or their experiences varied greatly to yours, then be prepared for a barrage of hateful assault. Guaranteed you have experienced this to some degree if you are active in the review community, and who knows who these people are. They could be randoms, friends and relatives of the business owner, or even someone working behind the scenes. It’s extremely unnerving, embarrassing and makes you sit there and think “Why even bother writing reviews in the first place?” Yea…. just don’t….
Anyone can write a review:
Let’s discuss the actual quality of the reviews themselves. Anyone can write them. Anyone can create an account (or multiple accounts), and crap away to their hearts content. Far too much credit is given to some person who may have not even patronized a business at all. There are some people who look for trendy new restaurants or services with high traffic and create fictitious reviews simply to get noticed. This is just one example of many ridiculous unjusts that go on in the world of online reviewing.
Some people are negative about everything:
There are some people out there that really, really, really, need to get laid. It’s takes a “special” kind of person to sit there for hours behind a computer screen spitting out hateful negative rants one after another, but believe me friends, they exist. This ties into the fact that anyone can just say anything they want online with little to no consequences.
Fortunately these people are pretty easy to spot. Just click on their user name and you will notice all their other reviews and also extremely negative. Just write these off and whatever you do, don’t give them any attention. No feeding of the trolls allowed!
Here is a general rule of thumb. If you want to take reviews into consideration, look at the 3 and 4 star ones. These people are usually mentally stable and are trying to offer a fair and reasonable review, while still making a point to list any potential downfalls.
People are spiteful:
Along with negative sad sacks the world is also full of spiteful, childish, vindictive people who will make it their life’s work to destroy anyone for the slightest infraction, and review sites are the perfect breeding ground for this type of unjust behavior. This is why reviews, particularly negative ones should be taken with a grain of salt and don’t let them stop you from doing what you want to do. If you are unsure then go and see it for yourself. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t like your food. We eat over 1000 meals a year. One is not going to make any difference and you don’t ever have to go back. Sure, money is important and we don’t like to waste it, but a few dollars is not worth ruining someones life over.
You can ruin someones business:
This is the sad part of online reviewing. people don’t actually realize how powerful their words are and can have a huge hand in destroying peoples lives and businesses. The online world is like high-school and can foster an environment of groups, cliques and bullying. Some review sites allow you to add friends and form groups and this in turn can cause people to act with impunity and mob mentality. Word travels extremely fast and it doesn’t take too many negative comments before it starts having a huge negative impact on someones business.
People rate low for 1 bad experience:
This is the one thing that shits me the most about online reviewing. You get a person that goes the a business over 40 times, and then one day they don’t receive the typical service they are used to receiving and then they go online and write a scathing 1 star review. Absolutely ridiculous and stupid! Sure, feel free to mention the one off bad experience in the overall review, but take ALL your visits into account and review it as an average, not a one off. We are all humans. We all have bad days and we are not machines. If you are receiving one bad experience, talk to them first and try to resolve the issue in house before making it known for the whole world to see.
Now is a good time to go and re-read all of your reviews and if you have something was said in spite, anger or extreme negativity, then seriously consider changing it and taking the higher road.
Ahh yes, don’t you just love the people who pay $40 for a hotel room and expect a night at the Grand Hyatt. Haha it always makes me laugh and it’s such a #first_world_problem.
In all seriousness though, yes, you do have the right to a clean room, clean bed, a functioning bathroom and the right to feel safe, but please be reasonable and practice some common sense. If you expect more than the bare basics then pay more. I’ts as simple as that.
As an immigrant myself, I absolutely agree that if you are going to live in America, you need to conform and adjust to the American lifestyle and customs, but in all fairness, 5 years in America is not going to erase 40 years of living in some third world shit hole. We all know the saying “hard to teach an old dog new tricks”, and a certain level of cultural understanding and leeway should be given when dealing with someone who is not from this country. What you might perceive as rude and inappropriate, might be perfectly acceptable to somebody else and if you are going to put yourself in direct contact with ethnic people, then at least be mature enough to have an open mind and practice a bit of cultural discretion.
Out for the world to see:
Just because you think your review is the funniest, most awesome prose ever written, doesn’t mean that your employer or potential employer will feel the same way. You see in order to bolster the claim that review sites are real and genuine, they will try and get as much personal information from you as possible. This includes asking for your full name, telephone number, email address, pictures, online verification, likes, dislikes, everything. Now of course you can put in fake information, but you will be very surprised at how traceable the information you put online really is. Sites like Amazon and Yelp have an extremely high ranking and often appear first in search results so its not hard to find your information if someone wants to look for it. Remember everything you put out into the world has the propensity to follow you for life. Be very careful with what you say and the information you put out there.
Google now has better statistics:
I’m so pleased that google and other search engines are now adding personal details about businesses out for everyone to see. They have upgraded their databases to include basic information about local business such as address and phone numbers, opening hours, busiest times to go and easily accessible menus. I’m hoping this saves a lot of people from having to click into review sites and being bombarded with nonsense information and extreme biases.
Forced to sign up to read reviews:
Most of them now force you to sign up just to READ the detailed reviews. This is so they can turn around and say to any potential buyer or advertiser “Hey we have X amount of subscribers, so our website is worth so much more than our competition, and you should compensate us handsomely for that.”
So this basically means that helping people is NOT their agenda here. We are all just there to build up their branding so they can get top dollar for their web product in any potential sales deals. It’s a smart, cunning business model, and i commend anybody for creating a profitable business out of thin air, but using people in the process is unethical and not the way I do business. I would rather write reviews and articles myself, help people as much as I can and if that turns profitable then great. If not, then i hope people can get some use out of my writing efforts.
Thank you for reading. The most important thing to take away from this is that everybody experiences things differently. Everybody has different expectations and just because somebody else doesn’t like something doesn’t mean that you will feel the same way. Take your life for example. Not everyone will like your house, not everyone will like your cooking, or the car your drive, or the clothes you wear. See my point?
Go out and experience life for yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else has to say. The most important thing is that you are happy.
I’d love to hear your opinions on writing online reviews.
*I’m not affiliated with any websites and everything mentioned in this posting is a true and accurate representation of my experiences in the world of online reviewing.*