I am an avid online shopper. If I could get everything reliably delivered to my front door for a reasonable price, I would. There’s just something that is so…easy…about picking things out on my computer and then just waiting for them to show up. Before I became a freelance writer, I relied heavily upon reviews to guide my purchases. In fact, I relished the research phase. Now, I do things differently.
As a freelance writer, I have the ability to take jobs or leave them at my discretion. I talked a little bit about the shady world of writing in this post about freelance writing. There are jobs that I just won’t take, and one of those types of jobs are review jobs.
If you have an Amazon account, you are eligible to take on this type of work. You see, Amazon lets you review anything, whether you have purchased it through them or not. This means that you can get on their site and “review” a television that you bought at any retailer, or, you can say something about a product you have never even seen. There are companies out there that rely on you reading good reviews and then buying their products based on those reviews.
Not One or Two, but Hundreds
I think a lot of people assume that some reviews are fake or staged, but the scope escapes them. I am talking about hundreds of fake reviews for the same product. These writers don’t even get paid much for this type of job, just a few dollars each job usually, so, in order to make money at this, they have to write a lot of fake reviews.
When I used to read reviews, I would always look for a product that has a lot of reviews on it, and a good percentage of high reviews. Then, I would read the worst reviews to see what the potential flaws were. If I could deal with the potential flaws, then I would purchase the product. Using this two-step process probably kept me from a few bad purchases, but I had flawed logic in my first step. You see, even hundreds of positive reviews don’t necessarily mean anything.
A Better Way
Amazon in particular has a fail safe in place called “verified purchase.” If you are a verified buyer of that particular item and you review it, a note will show up that states you purchased it from Amazon. These reviews are only from people who bought the item they are reviewing; there is no cheating the system. Worry less about the volume of reviews and more about checking reviews that say “verified purchase” in red right at the top of the review.
I still think it is a great idea to read the lowest rated reviews as well; on Amazon that means the one star reviews. Often, potential headaches can be avoided by noticing that this listing is for a smaller quantity, or that the color may not match the picture; oftentimes people mention things like this because they think they got a bad deal when they didn’t pay attention to the listing. Other times, there is a genuine flaw that you may not be okay with.
I hope this helps you with your online purchases. I know that I will continue to buy things from the comfort of my home, but I am more careful now. I tend to ask friends and family what products they like, read verified purchase reviews on Amazon, and look for similar programs on other shopping sites. Happy shopping!
**This was originally published on BlogHer May of 2015.**