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Can you trust on line reviews?

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Whether we are eating out, booking a holiday, or finding a good tradesman; us brits love reading reviews. Approximately 54% of UK adults use review websites such as Trip Advisor, Checkatrade and their counterparts.

And reviews are big business. It's estimated that up to £23 billion pounds of consumer spending a year is influenced by on line reviews. But can you really trust what they say? And do you know who is writing them?

A recent report by BBC News revealed that the Competiton and Markets Authority (CMA) has recieved disturbing allegations about the practices of reviewers, businesses and review sites alike. 

In the internet age, one bad review can be highly damaging to a businesses reputation. As such, it's alleged that some businessess have been blackmailed with the threat of poor online reviews by consumers keen to secure a discount.In addition, some people have been paid to falsley endorse businesses.

And it's not just reviewers who are up to no good. Some businesses are at it too; with reports of owners and staff writing fake positive reviews to boost their ratings; or falsley disparaging their competitors by leaving negative feedback.

Perhaps most disturbingly, it has emerged that the supposed impartiality of review sites may not be quite as it seems. Review sites rely on subscriptions from business owners and so may choose to maximise these by 'cherry -picking' positive reviews to display, or leaving cases of negative feedback unpublished; in order to allow a business time to resolve any issues and prevent loss of earnings. 

In light of these claims, the CMA has now launched an investigation into the practices of various companies.

If you use review sites before making a purchase, we want to hear from you. Do you trust what you read? Do reviews influence your choices? Maybe you are an avid reviewer? Whatever the case, we'd love to hear your stories. Please comment below, or contact us here.


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