Caution, wrong rating!

There is cheating and lying on the net. But how can we protect ourselves? Seven answers.

The thing about the reviews is sometimes pretty sad.

Whe is actually a user hasenpfote67? Is his evaluation genuine and what should be made of it? The online evaluation culture often only makes things seemingly easier. Seven tips to make it easier to use.

Can I trust reviews online?

The reviews of products and services written down by Internet users ideally provide information about whether a product meets the requirements, whether it is reasonably priced and whether the provider has good customer service. Studies show how great the trust online shoppers place in their own kind: More people trust ratings on the Internet than experts’ assessments or recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Apparently the swarm is perceived as more intelligent and overall more authentic than individuals. Surveys show that almost two-thirds of buyers choose a different product than the one they were originally looking for because of better reviews.

How many reviews are fake?

It is not easy to say how often consumers are misled before making a purchase decision. One thing is clear, however: Fake reviews are by no means isolated cases, as the Bundeskartellamt found in an investigation. “Unfortunately, so-called fake ratings are a widespread phenomenon,” says the head of the authorities, Andreas Mundt. Which is mainly due to the fact that behind fake reviews there is not always just one or the other hostile competitor, but a small industry. There are a number of agencies that produce false praise and sell it to hotels or dealers who want to attract positive attention by all means. Even those who publish something on Soundcloud, for example, will be contacted by service providers who promise “real” clicks and reviews for a fee. The hope is that positive reviews will increase sales. The stupid is then the customer.

Why aren’t false reviews deleted?

Consumer advocates in particular have long been calling for portals to take more responsibility and ensure that the reviews published are genuine. But not every portal is rigorous. Some are content to filter out swear words and data protection violations. Others have a multi-stage test procedure and filter both automatically and manually. “Portals, for which the evaluation is a business model, try to master the manipulation,” says Tatjana Halm from the consumer center in Bavaria.

In the Jameda doctor-patient portal, for example, every tenth review is deleted due to manipulation. On the holiday portal Holidaycheck, around every twentieth submitted review is not published in the first place due to suspected fraud, and a not inconsiderable number of fake or suspicious comments are blocked after publication. “In our eyes, fake reviews are fraudulent activities on holidaymakers,” says Georg Ziegler, who is responsible for reviews at Holidaycheck. He calls for stricter rules and for the sale of fake reviews to be prosecuted.

How do I recognize fake reviews?

Beware of adjectives that are full of adjectives that sound like advertising. You can enter conspicuous formulations in the search engine and see whether they have also been used for other products. Detailed reviews of a product that has just been released should also be viewed critically, as well as if several bad reviews are followed by a torrent of good comments. Bad reviews, in which the purchase of a similar product from another supplier is recommended, are often dubious. It is also helpful to look at the reviewer’s profile. “It’s noticeable when someone has rated ten televisions or services in different locations in a very short time,” says Halm. A five-star rating for “fast delivery” says nothing about the product. To get a well-rounded picture, one should also read mediocre reviews, in which arguments are often more factual than the positive and negative ones.

What can I do if I discover cheating?

Exemplary portals make it easy for users to report an incorrect or suspicious review: They have installed an abuse report button for every review. With other portals, it is more complicated to report suspected abuse. Either the reporting function is hidden or there is none. Then the users only have to communicate via a contact form or write an email.

Should I write a review myself?

The constant prompts to rate a purchased product or service can be a nuisance. But it would be good to express your opinion. Because: The more real user reviews there are, the less the wrong ones matter. There is a “supply gap”, writes the Federal Cartel Office. Many users would read reviews, but only a few would write one themselves: “The number of reviews created in this way is therefore too small.” So anyone who writes a review is helping the general public. In this way honest customers retain the sovereignty of interpretation.

Can I accept and rate a test product?

In this case, opinions differ. Some market watchdogs don’t mind if consumers get an incentive to write a review. A voucher, a small amount of money or an award as a “top tester” are acceptable. It may also be permissible to get a newly introduced product for free or cheaply and to write a review for it. Although one then exposes oneself to the suspicion of writing a positive review as a favor. However, such commissioned reviews are only legally compliant if they are marked accordingly.