Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Minefield of Online Product Reviews

After having spent an hour or so looking at reasonably priced futons and reading the customer reviews on same, I've decided that the world of online product reviews is a veritable minefield.  In going from site to site, I'm finding it absolutely impossible to be able to figure out who's reviews I can actually trust and rely upon as actual customer experience and factors upon which to base my decision, and which people are just shilling for the competition and writing bad or mediocre reviews for the items I'm examining.

My fiancee is a Yelper, and I usually rely on her for things like determining what restaurants we should try next because she's much better than I at sifting through the crud and BS reviews and figuring out what the real scoop on a place is before we go.  She does this by looking at the status of the reviewer (elite versus not), quantity of other reviews by the same person, content of other reviews by the same person, etc.

Here's the thing, though.  When I'm shopping online for something (like a futon), I don't want to spend a bunch of time having to sift through people's reviews to try to figure out which ones are real versus fake so I can make a decision.  It already takes long enough to look around, and given that I generally hate shopping anyways, the prospect of figuring out what to get is enough for me to start tearing out my hair.  I almost want to go to actual brick and mortar stores to take a look at some futons, try them out, and then come back to the computer to figure out where I can buy it for cheapest.  However, that doesn't work so well unless you're going for the more boutique-y kind of futons that are much more than I can or would want to afford.

What would you do, dear readers, in this situation?  How would you navigate the minefield of online product reviews?  [Or would you even bother?]  I'm open to suggestions here.


  1. i have encountered the exact problem myself, with online reviews. It took me more than a month to finally buy the NuWave Oven b/c of the reviews. They were all over the map, and I tended to keep reading the 3 bad reviews over the 15 good ones. Maybe look at the reviews that split the difference b/t good and bad?

  2. Amazon has a similar system to Yelp for reviewers, so I find that an easy site to use for reviews. You can see the status (elite = "vine"), number of reviews and you can also see how many people thought a particular review was helpful. There are a few other sites that also have these helpful benchmarks but the vast majority of sites have no trustworthy system to base reliability on, so it can definitely be a crapshoot.

  3. You can't really compare eating at the restaurant to buying a futon. People have different tastes when it comes to food, which is why it's easy to sift through the exaggerated, fake BS food/restaurant reviews. With the futon, however, it's too technical and mechanical. It is better to have it physically tested instead of rely on online reviews. I know that brick and mortar stores are slowly closing down because of the online shopping boom. We only hope that what we buy online gets to be returned as well if it doesn't work.

    I miss your blogging, honey.