Reviewing things before you buy is now a way of life for many consumers – now, I am not exactly sure what an “App” is but my wife tells me you can “upload” lots of them some will tell you all about the best products and prices and where to find them.
Good job these things didn’t exist 44 years ago when I asked her to marry me!
If buyers check on the price of an item costing a few pounds – well you would imagine the same research goes into high cost items – like cars.
Fact is, I am not sure this is always as useful as it appears. Here’s a little exercise I carried out…
I took a popular car which would be in plentiful supply – that would provide me with a number of different sellers I could then take a close look at.
I chose a Nissan Micra 5 Door – 2006 to 2008 – Petrol with under 100k miles.
REMEMBER – I am not checking out the car I am checking out the seller by looking at their Customer Reviews.
Here are the Steps I took:
- I went onto AutoTrader On-Line
- I chose a “common” car (Nissan Micra 2006-2008) which I knew numerous Car Dealers would be offering for sale AND therefore would have sufficient data to work with.
- This provided details of Car Dealers throughout the UK
- I then read all the Reviews about individual Car Dealers
- So as to provide a balanced view in addition to those on Autotrader I checked out the same Car Dealers on other popular review sites such as Google and Facebook.
My initial fears were quickly confirmed – a fair number of reviews are clearly FAKE!
How do I know this? Because it soon becomes evident from the comments something is not right.
For example you can get 10 – Five Star reviews none of which mention a specific car – “Great Service – Great People – Great Cars” – alongside this are 10 more reviews for the same dealer all giving One Star. It is obvious from these comments these are “real” people talking about “real” cars AND real experiences!
This is done as a way of distorting the Average Review Score by diluting the “real” bad reviews by adding “fake” good ones.
Another “jolly jape” I came across was changing Trading names to throw buyers off the scent – that way all the bad reviews instantly go away as they refer to a “different” company – in reality, it is the same clowns just a different name on the circus tent.
During my “research” I came across some car dealers who had an appalling track record and were clearly habitual offenders. In a fair number of cases reviews were so bad you could never imagine anyone ever buying a car from them ever again. Amazingly people still did!
Maybe the offer of a “real steal, the bargain of the decade”, turned their heads.
So this begs the question – is there any real value in checking out reviews – YES!
For the simple reason – many are legitimate and provide a true picture of the seller. It does not take long to work out which are truthful and which are – telling little-porkies!
Before I get down from my Soap-Box there is a very important point I wish to make.
No honest and decent Used Car Dealer likes to read a bad review – It Hurts!
By the same token there is no point in pretending there are not times when things can and do go wrong – hence rubbers on the end of pencils. When all is said and done we are dealing with a “Used” product – which in truth I cannot help but feel is sometimes forgotten.
For me, it is significant if the review is responded to. With both sides of the story the reader is better able to decide whether they have confidence to hand over their hard earned money or avoid like the plague. We “Brits” were known for being reticent to complain – that is no longer the case AND unquestionably this is a good thing. It does not alter the fact that there are a few occasions a complaint is without merit and unreasonable.
For over a hundred years many of my family ran pubs – they knew a few well known “full-time” complainants who only complained about a “bad pint” when there was only half an inch of ale left in the glass. We have all met them!
Regardless I was taught a very valuable lesson as a young man!
Let the buyer beware!