Online review sites are popping up all over the place, and Angie’s List is among one of the most popular.
Some people are also very skeptical of online review sites because they have a reputation for being filled with fake reviews. Some companies have encouraged their employees, friends and relatives to write fake positive reviews on their business, giving them a higher ranking. Some have even gone as far as writing fake negative reviews for their competition just to make themselves look better.
An inside look at the fees.
Angie’s List charges a fee for members. With this fee, members are allowed to write reviews on businesses, and these reviews and ratings are then used to create an overall score for the business. Member reviews allow reviewers to leave more information regarding the business. Angie’s List also allows non-members to leave reviews, however, only the review will be shown. Non-member reviews have no bearing on a company’s overall score on Angie’s List, and only the comments portion of their review can be seen by others.
Since comments can be posted for free, and even since the membership fee is very minimal, some businesses may decide to post the free fake reviews or even pay to create a fake account. Creating a fake account and spending the measly amount per month is well worth being able to write great reviews for their own business while damaging the brands of its competitors.
An inside look at the anonymity.
Other online review sites require users to create a profile, but they don’t require them to leave a real name or contact information with their review. This means that anyone can write on these sites without having to worry about backlash or having their identity exposed, and everyone knows that allowing customers to hide behind an anonymous review means they won’t take much concern over the information they’re sharing.
Angie’s List does not allow anonymity on their site. Every user has a full profile complete with name and contact information. If a user writes a review, their name will be associated with the review forever. There is no way to leave an anonymous review on Angie’s List.
On the other hand, all that is needed to create an Angie’s List account is an email address. Any business or individual has the capability to create numerous email addresses, therefore, they can create numerous accounts. Granted, if you want to have an impact on a company’s rating, you’ll need to pay to be a member, so this could get costly. But if you simply want to create some reviews to either help a company’s image or destroy it, it can be done by writing a free fake review. It may not impact the rating, but it will be seen by anyone who uses the site to gain information on a company.
So can you trust Angie’s List based on the anonymity? Again, the answer is no.
Unfortunately, every online review site will be impacted by fake reviews. If you’re going to use these sites, it’s important that you learn to spot fake reviews. Rankings that don’t match the review, too many intricate details, perfect grammar or a constant referral to the company by its full name are generally signs that the review is fake. There are honest reviews on Angie’s List, you’ll just need to find them.
Jessica Brown is a business professional who writes about tracking online reviews and review monitoring tactics. She recently wrote about how to get yelp reviews for your business.