Online review sites are like Nigerians who want to wire you $10 trillion… they’re a scam

Online review sites are all a scam and should not be consulted prior to making purchasing decisions!  Before I explain further I need to disclaim that we,, have profiles on various review sites and we have been happy and lucky with what people have posted, so far.  This disclaimer should add credibility to the content of this article because if we had poor reviews one might think I was just another frustrated business owner trying to discredit the online review community.

For some of you reading this, you may still think online reviews are a godsend for good advice.  It’s time to understand who actually writes online reviews.  There are 5 different types of people who post online reviews:

1.  Very happy tech savvy customers– no matter how happy my grandparents are with a product or business, there just isn’t any way they’re going to go online and write a review.

2.  Very unhappy tech savvy customers– same as above but for unhappy grandparents

3.  Employer and Employees of the business– If a restaurant has 20 employees, it is not unusual for the owner/manager to have each employee sign up for a review site and post a raving review of their food and service.

4. Competitors–  It’s just as important for business owners and employees to talk about how great their product/business is as it is to post defamatory/false and misleading reviews about their competitors.

5. Paid third parties–  Sometimes business owners will hire companies like the ones listed here where it is their sole purpose to write reviews on their companies behalf.

5 and 1/2- Honest People-  **Occasionally** there are a few people who post that were “just satisfied” and went online to write an honest review but the ratio of honest to scam posters is 1 to many.

Here’s an example.  If you went out to dinner on a date and had a “just ok” meal, would you go home and post all over the internet how you had a “just ok” meal?  No, you probably wouldn’t.  That said, you narrow down your reviewers to the extremely happy or the extremely dissatisfied.  Either way, you never know how many people just enjoyed their food and went on with their lives, that’s an important number to know.

Our online real estate school,, has had about 1,500 students complete our course since we launched in January ’12.  As far as Ican tell, we’ve had 5 reviews posted about us.  Does that really represent how good or bad of a product we offer, not at all.  We could’ve just as easily had 5 unsatisfied students write 5 poor reviews about us.  What about the other 1,495 students who took the course, does the general public assume the 5 reviews represent all 1,500?

In conclusion, the next time you find yourself reading online reviews, think about which of the 5 types of people stated above wrote it.