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Beware of Fake Online Reviews

HARTFORD, Conn. – Online product reviews can help or hurt a business.

They can also steer consumers in the wrong direction, especially when the review is fake.

The Better Business Bureau, Consumer Reports and even the Federal Trade Commission are warning consumers to be wary of online feedback and reviews of products and services.

For example, the BBB said some companies may hire writers to stack websites with positive comments about a product or negative reviews about their competitors.

“It’s bad business to do that because it’s dishonest, it’s a disservice to consumers and it’s also deceptive,” Howard Schwartz, spokesperson for the BBB of Connecticut, said.

“I guess it’s not that surprising,” Trevor Law, an online shopper said. “People are gonna do anything to sell things.”

Spotting a potential fake review can sometimes be easy if you look at its wording, according to Schwartz.

“It’s not practical that somebody would write, ‘this product integrates seamlessly into my life.’ Those are market speak words,” Schwartz said.

Most consumers won’t make repeated use of a product’s complete name in a review.

“If you’re reading it and someone’s talking about how great and wonderful it is and it’s life-saving and whatever, you might need to take that with a grain of salt,” Evelyn Mackenzie, an online shopper said.

Yelp.com is a popular consumer review website.

A spokesperson for the company said it filters reviews using its own automated system to protect consumers and business owners from fake or malicious feedback.

TripAdvisor.com, another widely-used consumer feedback site, says it also systematically screens reviews and relies on its users to report suspicious content.

The best way to get a feeling for a product is to read a variety of reviews from different sources, according to Schwartz.

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Adryenn Ashley

Adryenn Ashley is the mediagenic founder of Wow! Is Me. As an award winning filmmaker and actress she is used to transforming herself and others into riveting onscreen characters. Now she uses her well honed techniques to transform everyday entrepreneurs into wildly successful business celebrities. As a mentor to CEOs worldwide, she is directly responsible for adding significant revenue to her client's bottom line. For information on how you can work with Adryenn Ashley, go to http://wowisme.net.

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10 comments

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  1. Annoyed Yelper

    While Yelp does not explicitly filter or unfilter reviews based on your business relationship with them, I have noticed that their filter's "tolerance" levels change with the purchase of advertising.

    On a number of occasions, I have written scathing reviews and not been filtered. On others, I have written mildly lukewarm ones and have been filtered. Usually, a change in language can get your review out of the filter. In some cases, upgrading or downgrading the number of stars. The filter is more strict the closer you go to 1 or 5 stars. The lukewarm reviews that were filtered were with businesses that pop up as advertisers on competitor searches.

    I recently wrote a scathing review that sat filtered. It only came out of the filter, with no change in language, when I upgraded it to 3 stars. This is a business that advertises heavily with them.

    Since I have no proof of this, it is merely heresay but if you pay attention to how your reviews are treated, you'll see the exact same pattern. Minor change in vocabulary will get your reviews out of the filter often. Sometimes a change in rating is also required.

  2. jeffholcomb

    Keep in mind the author of this piece owns a business to help you promote your business. Yelp criticism is legitimate, but she has a dog in this fight.

  3. Zahid

    Great tips have to share about how to avoid fake reviews and http://www.essayscoupon.com/rushessay-com-review/ can help reviews and how to ignore.

  4. DJ Jarak

    My business listing has been active for under a week and already I've been stuck with a false negative review. This person claims that they commissioned me to design them a wholesome logo and I sent them smut in return. I never received any order from this person and I have no idea who they are. I am their only review and their profile is blank. Not even a picture. It's safe to assume that this person only signed-up with Yelp in order to slander me.

  5. Eva

    We have had several reviews removed from yelp -always the positive ones. They have left a bad review from months ago ( I feel bad reviews should expire after a set time). As a business owner I can tell you I can not remove reviews. I have heard Yelp holds you hostage for your good reviews, requiring you to pay to have good reviews published.($300/mo) Very shady business and I will never use them!

  6. Paul Stanko

    This is absolutely true! I made the horrible mistake several years ago of "claiming" my Yelp profile. Many satisfied clients posted 5 Star reviews on my profile, and I had a 5 star rating. Then, Yelp solicited my advertising. I very nicely declined their offer. Then quite suddenly, ALL of my good ratings disappeared (were "filtered") and eventually 3 bogus 1 star reviews, by people I have NEVER represented appeared on my profile. Several satisfied clients have tried to post 5 star reviews since, and they ALL were filtered out!

    Yelp has even had the chutzpah of soliciting my advertising business since they did this to me!

    Want to get back at them? I happened to check out Yelp's own profile. Surprisingly, YELP only has a 3 Star Rating! Go to Yelp's OWN listing, and you will find THOUSANDS OF NEGATIVE REVIEWS!

    See for yourself:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/yelp-san-francisco

    What credibility should a review site have when it gets thousands of negative reviews FROM ITS OWN MEMBERS!

    If you have been screwed by Yelp, post a link to their own negative reviews. They are nothing but extortionists.

  7. JD

    I was a fan of Yelp a long time ago, and I understand Karen wants to warn others about how bad service damaged her car, but I also feel that it's very easy for competitors or other businesses to write harsh reviews to make their business better.

  8. shadi

    Have you seen the pictures on Yelp's listing on Yelp? Just saw a few, pictures of employees you can tell they were hand picked, I don't think normal good people would want to work for Yelp! There is one picture of this "Yelps Rules" wrote in the sands! This alone shows the mind set of these inhuman people! They believe they have they are ruling our lives! They are aware of destroying lives and they are proud of it! Hoe creepy is that!

    People in over seas pull down dictators by putting their lives on the line, why can't we have a organized demonstration to bring light and attention to this?

  9. Karen

    Ok so you post a warning about the bad service and how they damage you car while doing a repair, to warn others. But the owner of the business can have it removed. That just means yelp is not a credible source and you can not trust the reviews.

  10. Yelpisfake

    Yelp is completely bogus, some places will not allow a fair but negative review, it is immediately filtered out. Some businesses claim if they do not advertise with Yelp their good reviews disappear.

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