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4 ways to spot a fake online review

4 ways to spot a fake online review
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

I was poking around Amazon a while back and saw an 85-inch Samsung TV that cost $45,000. Just for fun I checked out the reviews and saw these gems:

"I was going to fund my daughters [sic.] wedding in Hawaii, but I figured this Samsung TV would last much longer." - Jordan

"The black levels and color depth on this TV are pretty good for the price. However, the small screen size is a deal breaker. I recommend buying an IMAX theater instead." - David

If you haven't run across them before, there's a long tradition of users leaving funny fake reviews on odd or extravagant products on Amazon.com. Here are some of the funniest ones I've found.

Unfortunately, not all fake reviews are hilarious. Marketing firms often pay people to leave positive reviews on major seller sites to boost sales. In fact, Amazon just sued more than 1,000 people who were paid to post fake five-star reviews on products.

Even legitimate reviews might be unhelpful. Maybe the reviewer went overboard with unwarranted praise or criticism. You don't want to base your purchasing decision on faulty information. We're going to look at how you can tell the difference between a real, helpful review and a fake or unhelpful one.

But first ...
Before we go into the signs, however, there's one general rule I need to mention. You should never base a buying decision off of only one online review, whether it's positive or negative.

Look around the shopping site you're on, and other shopping sites or online sources, for more reviews. Additional reviews will help you get a picture of what the product is really like. Also, don't just go by star ratings because every reviewer has different things they consider pros and cons.

Here's an example: Looking at reviews for a printer recently, some people gave it five stars and mentioned that it used ink a little fast but print quality was great. Other people gave it one star and said print quality was great but it burned through ink. It's the same information from completely different viewpoints. So, don't just skim.

OK, now for the signs of fake or unhelpful reviews.

Next page: The first sign

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