Ghost reviews – A shopper’s worst nightmare?

There’s more than ghosts and ghouls to give you a fright this Halloween. With the festive shopping season fast approaching, companies are doing all they can to entice shoppers with 

special offers and spectacular endorsements.

But some fiendish brands are using fake ‘ghost reviews’ to sell their products and services. And that comes as no surprise – 92% of online shoppers are now reading reviews, and we trust them as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

When the opinions and ratings of complete strangers are so influential, how can you exorcise that phantom feedback, and ensure every purchase is a treat – without any of the tricks?

Look out for the tell-tale signs.

Whether buying or booking, a glowing 5 star rating gets us racing for the ‘Buy Now’ button – but we hear horror stories of shoppers that have been duped by fake feedback. From rave reviews leading to woefully disappointing holidays, to gushing reports on products that simply weren’t up to scratch; it can leave shoppers unsure who to trust when browsing online.

But you can avoid the headache of being misled by fake reviews, by considering the following tips:

1: Are there any negatives?

While pages of glowing testimonials might look promising, no business can expect to get it right every time. If there aren’t any negatives at all, consider whether the business is censoring their feedback, or cherry picking the positives.

2: ‘The best ever!’

Could the review you’re reading be for any number of different products? Does it lack any specifics or detail, or use overly emotional language? These are common traits among reviews that have been left by people that haven’t actually bought the product.

3: Has the reviewer been verified?

Some sites require a user to register before they are able to leave a review. Look out for a ‘verified’ tick next to the reviews you’re using. While it doesn’t automatically make it genuine, it means the reviewer has had to take an extra step to leave it.

4: Be wary of incentivised reviews

“I received this product for free or at a discount in exchange for my honest, unbiased review” is a common disclaimer found on (usually positive) product reviews. But studies have shown that they’re anything but unbiased – awarding products almost half a star more on average.

Ensure if you’re reading incentivised reviews, you check out other feedback that has been left to get the full picture.

Who you gonna call?

The UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is cracking down on fake reviews, by busting

ghost-review practises, and ordering some sites to clean up their act. Online retailing giant, Amazon has been making headlines for taking over 1,000 ‘fake reviewers’ to court, and more recently banning incentivised reviews that have been left in exchange for free products.

But we go one step further to protect you from malicious reviews. Businesses use Feefo to make sure only those that have actually bought a product are invited to leave a review. It’s this simple verification process that means they can guarantee that all reviews are authentic.

Have you been haunted by a ghost review?

Buying a terrible product, booking an awful hotel room or choosing a lacklustre restaurant based off fake reviews can leave you feeling fooled.

At Feefo, we’re #FightingFakeReviews. If you’ve had a close encounter of the fake review kind, tell us about it!

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