Can you really trust the reviews that you read or are they just adverts
What may seem to be a simple enough question, “Can you trust online reviews of appliances?” really isn’t a simple to answer question at all.
There are four main categories that appliance reviews fall into and all are affected in some way by false reviews sadly and, this is an increasingly common problem with all product reviews, not just for appliances.
Reviews are hugely powerful sales motivators and, as such, they are open to abuse.
New Product Reviews
In the main what we’ve seen is reviews of new products such as washing machines, fridge freezers, cookers and so on that are little more than a glorified sales pitch. These “reviews” will very often be carried out by an online retailer or by the manufacturer as a sales aid.
While these reviews will offer you perhaps more in-depth information on the features available with any appliance they do tend to be either quite sterile or biased toward selling that particular product. They are rarely if ever truly independent which makes them difficult to take as being anything other than a sales pitch.
These reviews, either in written or video format, may prove useful to some degree they will rarely offer much more information than you can glean from sales literature.
This type of review is designed to sell or get you to click the links, no more.
The exception of course is the likes of Which? reviews that offer a far greater insight into the performance of the appliances that they test. This is however a costly and time consuming task so the reviews tend to be limited in number.
The cost in delivering commercial reviews is where it falls down in many cases as, not only do you have the cost of the product itself given that few, if anyone offers free review sample, but you have to invest a lot of time into testing. Usually with no payback for doing so.
There are no publications such as there are for cars, computers, Hi-Fi and so on when it comes to domestic appliances and so, no way to earn any revenue from reviewing them.
As for long term ownership, reliability and repair cost information, there is virtually nothing to help you in any of these reviews in that respect.
This is the reason why so many appliances have no reviews at all and invariably little or no information beyond the company website and sales information.
Knowing this you can perhaps understand why we will often advise people to, by all means use these reviews when researching a purchase but do keep in mind the above points.
Customer Reviews On New Products
Very often you will find customer “reviews” tacked onto the commercial new product reviews as comments in much the same manner as you will see on Amazon and a myriad of other websites.
This is where things take a bit of a twist as there is a dark side or two in these kinds of reviews.
There are a number of companies both in the UK and abroad that will post up positive reviews, just search for the services such as “write product reviews” and you will find companies that will offer you this service for a fee or, if you like, you can get paid to write reviews, even if you don’t actually own the product under review.
Equally there are services that will offer to post negative reviews about competitors sites, products or services.
This is a whole industry these days as companies vie for your attention and, glowing reviews of their products or, negative reviews for competitors, can give them an advantage.
It is almost impossible to fully verify if these reviews, irrespective of them being either positive or negative, are actually genuine or not. It really is up to the reader to use their own wits to determine that.
Just keep in mind that widely published figures based on a lot of in-depth research show that over 30% of all product reviews are fake, as in, completely and utterly falsified. Although, it could be far more than this as many fake reviews are hard to spot, even for experts.
This is referred to as “opinion spam”.
Research from Cornell University shows that people will often have as much chance of spotting a fake review as flipping a coin.
This is a huge problem online now with doctors and dentists in the US getting patients to sign an agreement permitting them from posting online reviews or comments about their services. It has been reported that one man in the US has received a letter threatening to sue him for over $100,000 for defamation, slander and libel.
Given the scale of this issue it would come as no surprise if companies took the same tact in time, even in Europe as negative reviews and, especially those that are either false or contain incorrect information, can cause great harm to a business.
Customer Reviews Of Older Products
These are the types of reviews that you will largely see posted in the comments section as above but also on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and so on as well as forums.
They normally fall into two camps:
- I hated the product, the company is a sham and they ripped me off
- I loved the product and have had no problems
You get a polarised view. And, often an incorrect one.
Let’s look at the latter one firstly.
A positive review from someone that has owned an appliance, such as a washing machine and we’re using that as we have a great example of this, is great. If it’s actually a customer but, how do you know this?
In the example we’re going to use here, for ISE, we know 100% for sure that ISE don’t pay for reviews so we know that there are no false positives.
Now, the first one, the negative reviews.
You find when you go looking that there are some comments from people that don’t even own one of the machines, we know this as every single one should be registered so there should be a record and, for one poster made recently in our own forums we checked and, they do not own an ISE, never have done. But all the same, the person has seen fit to post very negative comments.
Once you weed out the false reviews from competitors or people that just don’t like the business, for whatever reason, you find that in reality there are less than 0.05% sales that attract a negative review. That’s not bad at all.
Interestingly on the other side of the scale, you have almost the same number of positive reviews.
That leaves over 99% of owners who would appear, given the data, not to be bothered to leave any kind of review, don’t care about it or just have no issue one way or the other.
What this demonstrates is that reviews of products, like this washing machine, can be misleading or give a false impression as a very small number of poor reviews can throw a company or a product into a bad light, unjustly.
Cut, Copy, Paste Reviews
A while back a review of a quality product, not ISE this time, was brought to our attention and made us look at other examples where the same was demonstrated by what we now refer to as a “jilted” customer.
What happens is that the owner has an issue, it could be anything from what they perceive as a premature failure to rejected warranty claims, anything really. They then decide to maliciously deride the company for not giving them what they want online.
They proceed to paste the same comments in as many forums, comment sections and whatever as they possibly can with the sole intent of seeking revenge for this perceived injustice.
The problem is, it’s usually completely without any merit and often with little to no substance. And, on occasion this is used as a weapon with a customer threatening to post negative comments online if they are not given whatever it is that they demand.
It is also telling you only one side of the story.
We went looking online and, sure enough, we found several examples of this practice on a number of websites but, unless you were looking closely or happened to recognise the text, the chances are you would miss it.
You cannot trust these types of review at all as, they aren’t really a review, more of a rant normally that is merely designed to cause harm.
Domestic Appliance Reviews
On the whole most reviews, outside of a general sales review, are of little use. If you can even trust them.
The exception to at least some degree is perhaps the likes of Which? but, even they are no infallible as we will often see washing machines recommended that have sealed tanks as an example.
This isn’t Which?’s fault, we just don’t think that they have access to the same level of information that we do through spares and service to know this. To them and, to potential customers, they look different and have different names and warranties on them therefore, they must be different.
They are different, but the basic platform is often shared with many models and even brands.
That simply makes reviewing appliances even harder.
Add to that the problem of determining any sort of meaningful long term durability being virtually impossible and you will perhaps begin to appreciate the difficulty that reviewers have.
Then there are the issues of false reviews along with the jilted owners.
Our advice is to find people that know the products, deal with many different kinds and are knowledgeable in the field.
Ask them, they know what they’re talking about.