Before I buy pretty much anything new, I look at the online product reviews first. When it comes to actually buying things in person, I appreciate a salesperson willing to help, but there’s usually only so far that their opinion is going to go with me. It is their job to sell the stuff, after all. Their input definitely helps at times, but I wouldn’t want to have only that to go on. If there’s another option that they don’t happen to sell in their store, do you really think they’re going to tell you about the better product across the street?
Probably not – but that’s understandable. That’s why I prefer to do some research and get informed beforehand. Sure, it’s still mostly going to be a matter of trusting the opinions of others, but I’d rather trust the opinions of 100 instead of 1, especially since they typically have firsthand experience with the product, and they don’t have as much to gain as an employee.
I also use this approach with services, like restaurants. Word of mouth goes a long way, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the places I’ve found that I would not have tried otherwise. When trusting the reviews, I’ve been satisfied much more often than I’ve been disappointed.
This saves money because I lessen my chances of wasting money on an inferior product or service, or having to spend more money later. Also, if I’m on the fence about something, seeing enough positive or negative reviews might be enough to sway me.
One caveat of this practice is that the reviews are not always reliable. Anytime there are only a handful of reviews, for instance, I take caution. It’s also not unheard of for a business to pay for reviews. One warning sign would be if the reviews seem to be written in the same voice, as if they’re coming from the same source. And if every one of those reviews is a glowing ‘5 Stars’ with no flaws mentioned at all, it’s even more suspect, in my opinion.
I’m not a pessimist, and I know it’s possible that the reviews are legit, but I’d rather be on the safe side. If you take a chance on something that might be questionable, I advise you to make sure they have a good return policy.
When looking for online reviews, I often head to Google first. There are plenty of review sites out there, but I’ll leave you with a few of the sites I frequently end up at:
Cnet.com – Professional and user reviews of all things tech, from printers to software. Also keep up with news in technology.
Urbanspoon.com – Restaurant ratings from all over.
Amazon.com – Besides being a great place to buy, all kinds of products get reviewed here.
Metacritic.com – In addition to user reviews, this site compiles critic reviews from around the web for media – that’s movies, games, music, and TV – and assigns it an average rating based on those reviews. The Avengers, for instance, has an average rating of 69/100 from 43 critics, and 8.3/10 from over 1,000 users.
Youtube.com – Video reviews can be really helpful here. Some of the best reviews take 2 or more similar products (cell phones, tablets, etc.), and actually compare them side by side so you can hear from someone that has hands-on experience with them and see the differences for yourself.
Do you read product reviews before making purchases?
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