The Rise of Useless Reviews on Amazon – Read Before You Buy

Amazon is really cool. I can get good deals on stuff and have it delivered to where I live. The problem is that I used to historically look at the number of reviews and the average score to determine if something was worthwhile or not. A pure math approach of looking at the numbers is not working any more and let me tell you why.

I’m noticing a lot of reviews where people give 4 to 5 stars without really using the product. I don’t know if they feel they need to report right away or just what but you will read stuff like “it looks good” or “it feels good” and nothing about the actual use. I suppose it’s better than nothing but not by much.

Also, some merchants reach out and correct problems then ask the buyer to revise the score. You know, I’m cool with that. A friend of mine recounted the story of being hounded – email after email – from the seller to change the score. So, you need to be aware of this too – I’m not a huge fan of wasting time troubleshooting stuff – I want it to hit the ground working.

Recommendations

Again, the basics are true. Products with no reviews are very risky and less than 30 are still risky but you are starting to get a safety margin. However, you must dive deeper to learn what folks are saying.

What I am finding is that you need to read the reviews and:

  • Look for people who actually used the product and are reporting back.
  • Look for trends – was the product great and having more and more problems or vise versa?
  • Look out for tons of edits where people post that they have revised the score after the vendor sent a replacement. Why was this necessary? I could understand a few but not a lot and definitely not a trend.
  • Be sure to click on the number of reviews right under the product name so you can see the breakdown of scores and even click on the number of stars to read the reviews. So, if you click on “1 star” you can read those reviews.

Fortunately with Amazon, they give great customer service and I can’t guess how many times they have made things right over the years. I think a lot of folks have a level of comfort with Amazon now and I also think you need to use the tools they gave us to make a better purchase decision.


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