Online Reviews Can be Good Up To A Point

What online customer reviews are we to believe? According to the 2007 “Social Shopper Study” conducted by PowerReviews and E-tail Group, consumers are increasingly turning to online customer reviews to help them sort out purchases.

When consumers have concerns about the quality of the products they are buying, they are more likely to pay attention to recommendations by other shoppers like themselves, says Jay Shaffer, vp, marketing at PowerReviews.

One of the conclusions, though, is that consumers want to see more forums for these reviews on the e-commerce sites of the companies themselves. Really? Toshiba, Dell, HP and Eastern Mountain Sports are among those that give customers a forum to express good and bad opinions on their sites.

Not me. I look for online opinions, for sure. But I like to think I have gotten good at detecting honest reviews from those generated by shadowy firms and miscreant employees who stuff such sites with positive opinions. It happens, especially in the universe of consumer electronics and toys.

The last place I would look for an honest consumer forum for thoughts, ideas and reviews about a product or service I am shopping…is the brand’s site.

When a movie studio publishes an ad that says “Bright, Bouncy and the best Film of the Year! I laughed until my sides ached.”—Cyril Holloway, (fictional), and there is no review cite from People, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and no “thumbs up,” I know the studio is holding back.

This why social networking is so cool. if I was shopping for a new cell-phone, vacuum, PDA or laptop, the first place I would check, besides Consumer Reports and, is my Facebook network.

Look at reviews for an HP laptop on HP’s website? Why would I do that?

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