Customer reviews

Customer reviews in e-commerce, can we still trust them?

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Customer reviews are one of the ways to uncover the customer experience before purchase. However, are they reliable, and can they still be trusted? Everything about customer reviews:


Customers review
Customers review

When we make a purchase online via an e-commerce site, we often have the reflex to consult customer reviews. On the one hand, to find out what other consumers thought of a product or service, and on the other hand to obtain an opinion on the overall performance of the seller site.

However, more and more consumers lose confidence in these customer reviews as soon as we learn that everything can be bought on the Internet, including customer reviews on online sales sites. This is when the questions arise:

  • Can we still trust customer reviews left on e-commerce sites?
  • How to detect the flaws in the customer reviews left on the sites?
  • Which platform (s) offer consumers verified reviews?

Customer reviews in e-commerce

Many e-commerce sites have started from the observation that customer reviews would be a real lever for decision-making concerning the act of purchase. A fortiori it is quite fair and even relevant in the procedures. This is how many sites have provided customers with the possibility of leaving opinions following a purchase made on their site.

A few years later, the situation is mixed; sites grant themselves the right to publish an opinion or not, especially when it does not go in their direction, when others go through the purchase box, to the extent that we can buy customer reviews for his site.

This is when consumer confidence crumbles, and it becomes necessary to sort through customer reviews. It, therefore, sometimes becomes essential to consult external platforms to check whether the e-commerce sites are trusted. This is particularly the case for platforms like TrustPilot or Verified Customer Reviews. Still, here again, you have to show your paw print because if you don’t see a negative review (yours in this case) appearing on a site, here is what l ‘Afnor:

The rules put in place by AFNOR allow for a period to moderate negative opinions to allow exchanges between e-merchants and customers and possibly find a solution.

To learn all about the rules for online reviews, particularly fake reviews, visit the website of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance on the subject. You will learn many tips and, in particular, the rules that govern customer reviews: consumer reviews.

More and more French people choose to buy their goods or services online and rely on the opinions of Internet users to guide their choice. But can we trust these opinions? What rules must merchants follow when Internet users can post a review on their site?

Online reviews: beware of fake reviews and comments

In this video recounting expert advice, the DGCCRF alerts consumers to fake customer reviews online. You will see how sites can bias customer reviews and comments, for example, by highlighting positive reviews.

This moderation of opinions is not transparent for the consumer because, at the sight of the first positive opinions, it is easy to say that we can trust the e-commerce site. In other cases, some areas will lead consumers and Internet users to believe that the opinions left on their site are verified, which is not always a reality.

You will also hear the subject, which relates to the writing of false opinions by “professionals,” to give the feeling to the consumer that the site, the product, and the service will be of confidence. These practices are harmful to consumers, and they tarnish the e-commerce sites for which they are trusted.

How to sort and make the right choices in customer reviews?

Not everyone applies the law, especially French, and the e-commerce sites on which you want to make your purchases are hosted abroad. You will need to have a keen eye to detect fake reviews and understand how platforms delivering fake reviews work. It is, therefore, often necessary to start from suspicion and seek negative opinions to analyze them.

The operation of platforms delivering fake reviews

customers review
Customers review

Customer reviews and the practices used by platforms delivering false reviews are multiple. If we go back a few years, site owners used sites offering fake reviews to balance out negative comments or to show that inspections were being posted where no purchase had yet been made.

However, the problem arose from the wording offered by these platforms; customer reviews were far too perfect (good French, no mistakes) and sometimes too long for no real trust. As a result, the fake reviews offered today more closely reflect consumer reviews in the broad sense, and among them:

  • Notices filled with spelling errors,
  • Short notes, written in a text message style,
  • Well-supported opinions,
  • The opinions raising various positive points presented and small negative energy,
  • The negative but constructive ideas (yes!).

The list could belong, but here we understand that the goal is to show that fake reviews can quickly seem authentic because they are all different in their writing style and approach. It then becomes very difficult to detect fake reviews.

Detect fake customer reviews

One of the few ways to do this is to find the real negative and objective reviews, see ones that reflect anger at reviews that are too positive to be true! But also those who will evaluate an overall experience of the site until the purchase. With the elements concerning the fake customer reviews stated above, start analyzing those you find on e-commerce sites. The goal is to find the flaw, and it is a great shame to get there, but some areas leave little choice to Internet users to ensure their trust. This is all the more true when the e-commerce site is one of the few, or the only one, to offer the desired product.

Don’t be fooled by reviews that are too good to be true in the face of objective negative reviews. Sometimes you will have to dig to find the real fault. This is where it will be necessary to resort to third-party sites that deliver customer reviews verified according to the rules laid down by law.

Customers review
Customers review

What to look for on a site to ensure its trust?

The first things to consider to know if a site can be trusted are these few points:

  • The site must be using the HTTPS protocol, i.e., secure.
  • Check when the site was created. Consult the AFNIC WHOIS for any information on the owner of the site, and more particularly, the place of accommodation.
  • Look at the payment methods if it offers PayPal because, in a dispute over a product purchase, you may be covered in certain cases (check the conditions on the PayPal site, however).
  • Read the site terms and conditions and the legal notices.
  • Check the Internet to see if people leave reviews on the site in question. Enter for example: notice on the site or directly scam site etc.

These first elements will help you know the nature of the website; if it is serious, if it has existed for several years, and hosted in France. It is important in a dispute, especially for expensive purchases, to be protected by French law.

Check out third-party verified review sites.

Ideally, and if you want to deviate from a site where you want to make a purchase, it is best to consult verified review sites like TrustPilot and Verified Reviews. They will help you highlight negative customer reviews and possibly see how brands or companies provide solutions.

Among the interesting sites, there are also consumer sites that offer discussion forums where companies intervene to provide solutions. Among them are the forum (the e-commerce section) of 60 million consumers and the Que Choisir forum.

Also, remember to consult their sites outside the forums because they set up many product tests upstream. They will recommend some products to you more than others. This is already a way to better know a product before purchasing it.

As an aside, neither are verified review sites a vent for bitching at brands or online businesses that have had a bad experience. There are also rules to follow when blaming an entity, such as not citing competition or encouraging people to buy from another site. Thus, it could easily be compared to a form of unfair competition.

If you are the victim of an e-merchant, deliver a real experience and be authentic. In many cases, it will have the effect of warning other consumers. It’s always hard to take a scam, a bad experience, etc., but there may be solutions in some cases.

Note on CB / Bank insurance: Remember to check the level of your credit card contract if there is no insurance, also look on the side of e-credit card services for online purchases and finally see if there are other insurances to cover you in the event of fraud or scams on the Internet.

Contact an e-merchant before purchasing

Customer reviews are good, but in some cases, obtaining information on a product or service can be obtained more quickly by contacting the e-commerce site directly. The advantage is to see if the service is responsive, if the hotline is full, even if it exists! See if a chat is not accessible from the site to chat in real-time.

Making contact always establishes the first climate of trust before making a purchase. The goal is not to obtain an opinion but information on the product and the services offered (availability, delivery, etc.).

In conclusion

Customer reviews and comments have become a difficult jungle for consumers to grasp. Assuming that everything can be bought on the Internet, it becomes obvious to look for the loophole, look outside a site if verified reviews exist, etc.

Negative opinions are not always inevitable, and you have to see the responsiveness of customer service and the solutions it brings to a problem. Some only respond to positive reviews and rarely negative reviews by providing a real solution. Points can tell you a lot about the customer relationship established by the e-commerce site. Conversely, a reactive customer service that favors the exchange and the provision of solutions will soften the negative opinions and impact the confidence to have on the e-commerce site.

Make up your mind and above all, look around you, among your friends and on social media when possible, if their opinions cannot be solicited. We never know!

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