Saturday, 17 November 2012

Do We Rely Too Much On Reviews?

Everytime I want to buy an item now, any item from a dress, to a car, washing machine, toy or even purchasing a holiday, I immediately log onto my computer and search for reviews.
There are always a mixture of responses.
Those who review it before properly using it, those who want to complain about anything and everything, and those who simply want to write something to feel like they've helped when actually they've been too brief "this is good".

When we went to Lanzarote last year we booked last minute. We went into the travel agent on the Tuesday, she told us what was available, we booked, and flew out on the Thursday. It wasn't until after we booked, and got home, that we looked at reviews.
There was a mixture, although most seemed to be positive.
It wasn't until we got there that we realised the people who wrote the positive reviews must have been drunk all week as the place was AWFUL!
We were moved hotels and the new one was really lovely, we didn't want to leave. But looking at reviews they were worse than the previous hotel, and we couldn't understand why.
It was clean, staff were polite, food was edible, fantastic entertainment, lovely area and so on.
 
It was this experience that encouraged me to write reviews not only on my blog, but on company websites.

I bought a dress from the Wallis site which was supposed to be for Harry's Christening. It looked gorgeous on the photos and one woman had reviewed saying it was perfecting for breastfeeding.
Well, when it came through it was still beautiful, and was perfect for breastfeeding, but had no shape to it whatsoever. Infact it made me look like I was still pregnant. I returned it, and left a neutral review.
I bought a black dress just after this and one of the reviews was a lady stating the the gold buttons were not her taste and she was extremely unhappy due to them, and she thought they looked cheap.
It was stated clearly in the description that the dress had 2 gold buttons down the front and these were clear to see from the photos of the dress.
I went ahead and bought the dress and love it. In fact it's one of my favourite dresses.
Today I am looking into tablets and computers for Charles for Christmas. We want something that is more educational than a games console.
We decided on one of them and I thought I would look at reviews. On most websites the reviews are positive with the odd criticism of battery life.
I head over to a few groups I am a member off to see feedback on this item, the feedback is the opposite of most websites. Although the same complaint of battery life remains there are other cons to the product. So I look into the alternative products these people are suggesting. I look into one of the other products highly recommended. It's double the price of the one we like, and on websites has bad reviews, despite being so highly recommended by a certain group of people.

Once reading all this information, from all review sites I can be it blogs, communities and company sites I feel like I am no further forward than when I began.
And then I wondered whether or not I, or we as a whole, rely too much on reviews?
Do we trust too much in what other people say? Products vary and occassionally a bad/broken one will slip through the net and be purchased and before we know it we've complained and given it a bad review before even trying out another one after an exchange.
We also have very different expectations, and want to gain different things from certain products.
I guess like watching films or tv programmes. We like them for certain reasons and we get different things out of them.

So as I stand here and try and catch my breath after reading these differing opinions and trying to work out what we want, I'm left wondering why I rely on reviews so much.
Yes they can be really helpful, but what did we do before we had the access to the internet, to peoples opinions, to be able to read blog reviews? We bought the items we wanted.
We would take a risk.

And I think we need to go back to that. Taking risks, going to shops rather than relying on online buying, testing out the products in store and making a decision based on our own feelings.

Consumer rights have come along way throughout the years and I am confident at getting refunds or exchanges where I feel necessary.

I'm not totally dismissing reviews, of course I'm not, I write them and I'd hope that they help some people but I don't think we should rely on them all the time.

And on that note, this year we will be buying what we feel is right. If we make a wrong choice and buy something that is rubbish, well then I am happy to stand by that.