Review sites can be a valuable resource for individuals looking for feedback on businesses, services, and products before making a purchasing decision. However, while review sites like Yelp can be helpful, what many people do not realize is that these go-to sites may include reviews that are, at best, misleading and, at worst, completely fabricated and inaccurate. Of course, many reviews are genuine resources for consumers to make an informed decision, but some are also paid for or fake, which can make companies look better than they actually are. In fact the marketing effectiveness of fake customer reviews has even led to an entire market where companies can recruit people just to write positive reviews for their business as well as negative reviews for competitors.
Almost every sector, whether it be consumer or technology, can be affected by negative review. Consumer brands and service providers tend to be impacted the most. At any moment, a damaging post, review or rating can come through that could lead to the next viral campaign on social media.
One industry that relies heavily on online customer reviews is the professional moving industry. Moving an average of 40 million people each year in the United States, the market is full of customers who are unfamiliar with the industry who rely on review sites to help them decide which moving company will provide the best service. But lifting the lid on the online marketing tactics reveals some very questionable practices. For example, a quick search for “best movers” during peak moving season would bring you to review site links of the best moving companies in your area, such as those by Yelp. Within these lists are several 5 star rated companies with purely 5 star reviews, many of them newly created companies. Shockingly up to half of these companies are not licensed.
In simplest terms, choosing a moving company that does not have proper licensing or insurance puts your move at risk as you can be liable for any damages that occur to your items or your building, such as, damages to the elevator, lobby, hallways or exterior. This issue is crucial when searching for a reputable moving company as it is extremely difficult to avoid unlicensed companies on review sites. Even if you were to change the default sorting to Yelp’s “Best Match” filter, the number of unlicensed moving companies in the top results increases making it more likely that you could work with an unlicensed company in major cities across the U.S.
Review sites aren’t intentionally listing unlicensed moving companies, but it is very difficult for them to safeguard and vet the huge amount of information that is posted on their site every day. This increases the potential for misleading and false reviews, which in turn may result in consumers making a decision that they will live to regret.
When searching for testimonials online, keep in mind that sites that allow you to post reviews without purchase can serve as an open door for fake reviews as no site has the resources to vet all reviews left by the public. When viewing review sites open to the public, newer moving companies with a disproportionate number of all stellar reviews can be a good indication that they could be manipulating their online reputation. In truth, it is likely that more experienced companies can have a higher quality service yet a lower rating simply because they have a longer history and greater number of real reviews.
At Unpakt, the first and most comprehensive online marketplace for moving services, we prescreen and vet all our moving companies prior to listing them on our platform. All movers are checked for valid licenses and all insurance policies are reviewed and are available to the consumer. Most importantly – all reviews are limited to Unpakt customers only who book through the site and complete their moves with the listed moving companies. We take the burden of verifying reviews and the entire vetting process off the customer and allow them to focus on their moving day.
When searching for recommendations to aid you in your next significant purchasing decision, you should not solely rely on review sites, instead you should ask your friends, family and colleagues for suggestions. Although it is a big challenge, it is clear that review sites need to do more to vet the comments posted on their platforms, while consumers need to be more cautious and educated when it comes to relying on online reviews.