In this digital age and current cultural climate of news deemed fake, people two faced and facts misplaced, the world of online reviews has gotten seriously confusing. Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, a review would only appear weekly, in a trusted print publication, penned by a paid expert and as such carrying a certain authority.

But now we have to negotiate the minefield of budding journalistic layman, robot reviewers and unscrupulous business rivals, all purveyors of flawed, fictitious feedback and writing with their own agenda – and not the public interest – in mind. While we recommend always reading online reviews, there are certain times when it’s more important than others to do so. With this in mind, here are 4 IDEAL times you need to thoroughly read and research online reviews.

LOG BOOK LOAN REVIEWS

When buying a property, the mantra to follow is ‘location, location, location’ Well, when shopping online for a loan, it’s ‘research, research, research’. Indeed, there may be some times where you need a little extra help with your finances; perhaps you need to pay for an essential home repair such as replacing a broken boiler or you need to consolidate current debts. When this time comes, you need to ensure you read as many reviews as you can to ensure you choose a loan which offers not only the amount you need quickly but easy repayments and no hidden fees. Reading the more positive, transparent reviews from people who have chosen this in the past will help you discover if it’s right for your situation or not. Moreover, while many loan sites are legitimate, the Ts&Cs can be complex and deliberately impenetrable. A candid review will help you get a greater handle on them.

ONLINE TRADING SITES

The news is full of stories of people who are at risk of losing all of their savings by investing in fraudulent online trading sites. These companies will investors to make simple bets on whether shares or currencies will rise or fall in value, only to be conned out of their money. While many ‘binary options trading platforms’ are legitimate, there are also many that are fraudulent. Therefore, before you invest, do your research, and make sure these companies are the real deal before parting with your money.  For more information, read this this article on how it identify scam brokers. 

DOCTOR REVIEWS

A doctor is someone who you place your trust in to ensure you get the best, most correct treatment. They are someone you can connect and communicate with to help understand your problems. It makes perfect sense then, to check reviews of all doctor’s (surgeries and professionals) before you choose to visit them. Luckily, the NHS website makes it easy to search for your local doctors, and also provides helpful, genuine reviews from other patients. 

WHENEVER YOU’RE BUYING ANYTHING

As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This article by Buzzfeed on 19 reasons you should always read the damn reviews says it all. It’s all too easy to have the wool pulled over your eyes, and before you know it you’ve bought a piece of stewing lamb, not the bargain cashmere sweater you were hoping for. Too many times we’ve heard of people buying miniature deck chairs or doll clothes on ebay, with the belief that they were big enough for humans. Oh and did you hear about that fake restaurant that became London’s hottest restaurant on Tripadvisor? There are some rouge sellers out there, no doubt, who make money on items that don’t actually exist. So be super vigilant and always read the online reviews.

That said, you should bear in mind how to spot a fake reviewer. Be wary of stellar reviews that go into loads of detail, enthusing adjectives and exaggeration dripping over every syllable. There could well be a paid reviewer behind it, helping to boost business. It’s equally important to approach scathing reviews with a level of suspicion, as they could be written by a competitor with an ulterior motive in mind. If the review is purely negative or positive with absolutely no caveats, then alarm bells should sound. Indeed a review history with just unwavering positivity or pure bile could indicate a troll account. Other red flags include; no review history or a newly created and anonymous accounts. So be vigilant.