Taking Product Reviews with a Grain of Salt

One of the many great things about the internet is that you can search for almost any product online and find several reviews on the product by people who have already purchased it. I’ll be honest, while I tend to do my research online on most of the items I buy and scrutinize the reviews, I have never written a review myself.

I’m all about helping people and wanting people to make smart consumer choices, but I’m also pretty lazy and can’t be bothered writing about a product review. Unless I got paid for it.

are product reviews trustworthy?

Which brings me to my next point. Have you ever wondered whether people actually got paid to write good reviews?  It seems that the majority of store reviews on the website seem to be positive. Sure they have the few negative ones here and there, but more often than not, the reviewers tend to rave about how great this product is.  So I think to myself, hey this product got great reviews and it worked for other people, so I’m going to go and buy it.  If it worked for them, it’ll work for me, right?

Not always the case.

My last two recent purchases were skin care and hair care products.  Both were more expensive than your drug store brand and from higher end beauty stores. Both products were recommended by store employees (each product was from a different store) that would supposedly help my beauty problems. I read the online reviews, which of course were mostly positive and thus proceeded to try the products out.

Unfortunately I did not see any results with either of the products I used. I knew the proposed effect would not happen immediately, so I decided to give the products at least a few weeks before calling it quits. The employees said I should notice the difference within a few weeks.  Nothing happened. I still was experiencing the same skin and hair problems. I wonder if the employees knew it wasn’t that great, but promoted the products anyway.

While I had used up the entire skin care product, I am still left with the hair care stuff that doesn’t really do specifically what it was so-called “formulated” to do. I still use it to wash my hair though because I didn’t want to waste it, but I am still disappointed I had to pay more for it than a regular shampoo.  I felt like I had wasted my money and that I might as well just have bought a regular shampoo.

I know with certain products, especially skin care, makeup and hair care, there is a LOT of trial and error involved. Thus meaning, you most likely will spend a LOT of money, trying out different brands to see which fits you best. I always thought that reviews would minimize this and help me save money instead.

I still find I am spending a lot of money because I haven’t found certain products that can help me in certain ways. You don’t always get what you pay for.  After I had booked my trip to Greece with a tour company, I was given a list of hotels to choose from.  I had looked up every hotel on the list and based my decision on the location of the hotel and the reviews on Trip Advisor. Our hotel in Athens was great and aside from the fact that the room appeared to be a lot smaller than on the website, it met my expectations. However, our beach resort was a different story. It was rated as a 4 star resort.  I personally considered it more of a 3 star, 3.5 stars at most. The beds were not that comfortable and the sheets didn’t feel as nice to sleep on.  The location was perfect though. It was in a quiet town and literally a less than 5 min walk to the beach.

I think reviews can be biased to a certain extent. I should also take product reviews and any review for that matter with a grain of salt.  A restaurant, hotel or product will always have at least one negative review for whatever reason.

Do you feel product reviews are useful in helping you make a purchase? Why or why not?

15 thoughts on “Taking Product Reviews with a Grain of Salt

  1. As you mentioned, I always take reviews with a grain of salt. 1 negative review = 100 positive reviews. For example, I was looking for a new wireless adapter for my son because his current one had been disconnecting. I read a bazillion “works great!” reviews, but one or two “keeps disconnecting” reviews. That led me to stay away from that one…because some people were having the exact same issue I was having with the current adapter. No reason to buy it if it’s going to act the same.

    • I completely agree. I also think it really helps with your decision when customers explain why it worked for them or why it didn’t work for them.

  2. It has, but I do take it with a grain of salt too. Yelp reviews are my favorite. They do seem pretty accurate, and it’s my go-to website if I want opinions about a product or service. There are times where I didn’t get around to the yelp review beforehand and it bit me in the ass.

  3. It’s a good review but most of the time I don’t always get what I pay for. Every buyer should multiple check the products, nowadays double check is not enough, they’re about to buy. I think going to established sites and participating in forums, where people make reactions and comments on anything, are effective for me so far.

    • I haven’t looked at forums too much, but I’ve only read ones dealing with electronics. It’s great reading comments on those types of forums because it becomes really specific and people seem to know what they are talking about. It would be great if they had forums or more of them for other items such as the aforementioned beauty products.

  4. I definitely read reviews, but I don’t always go by everything they say. I use them as research to help me finalize my decision. When it comes to restaurant, I use yelp, but don’t listen to what people say about the food… people have different taste. I read to see if they say the service is good or if the place is clean.

    I ignore food reviews and movie reviews because, like I said, everybody has different taste.

    • I almost always ignore movie reviews. I think movies are very subjective. If I want to see a movie, I’ll see it anyway, regardless of whether or not the critics give it a good review. Sometimes I disagree with what the critics say.

  5. I do like reading reviews, and as Grayson said, I try to look for trends. As long as I’m okay with the return policy, I’ll usually go ahead and try something out if I feel like it’s worth it. Then there’s also the fact that people only tend to comment/review when they feel strongly about a product, which usually means being dissatisfied. You get a biased view, but I still like to look them over beforehand.

    • I have the natural tendency to stay away from the product if it was rated as bad overall. And vice versa. I think that going forward though, I will look into trends.

  6. I think they are useful if you read several and read different kinds. Amazon is great for reviews, but you have to read A LOT to really get a sense of what the general consensus is. Product reviews on blogs and websites may have a bias due to compensation or affiliation, so there’s that. I like to go to many sources to really figure out more about the product.

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