Be wary of online reviewers

One of the aggravations of modern life, is the way we’re always being asked to review things online. You need only take delivery of a small parcel to get a text asking you to rate your “service experience”. So it was a delight to read last week how a young journalist, Oobah Butler, had exposed the “chicanery of online reviewing”. He first claimed he’d set up an “appointment-only” restaurant – actually his London garden shed – aided by photos of its mood-inspired “food” (shaving foam and bleach tablets), and posted breathless reviews of it on TripAdvisor. Eager customers clamoured to book a table, but he ignored their calls, and in no time the website had classed The Shed as London’s top restaurant… even though it didn’t exist. Butler’s prank, and his admission that he used to earn a living writing fake reviews for TripAdvisor, is a timely reminder not to put your faith in the “wisdom of crowds” – too many of us have learnt to game the system. No, place your trust in experts and friends: they’re “our only protection against fake reviews in an ocean of fake news”. (Janice Turner, The Times)

There is not a lot of point in reading online reviews by customers. You don’t know if they are genuine, and what is one person’s luxury hotel bedroom, for instance, with a stunning views,  is another person’s cramped and dreary hole in the wall with uncomfortable beds. In any case I am simply ignoring review requests unless I have had particularly good service, and we want to reward it.  These surveys are management cop-outs that focus on service individuals ( you can seldom talk to an actual manager, hiding away behind his office door), not the overall management and offerings of the company.


  1. Yes, agreed, “reviews” are time-stealers, usuallyto no good end. Still, it’s the reviews about small daily-use kind of objects that have been helpful: staplers, cool pens, DVD’s, dried flowers, printer paper, socks–that sort of thing. What I shy away from is evaluating a particular phone operator at Apple, or Verizon customer service–where the frustrations are likely to have been enormous and some poor operator has to bear the brunt.

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