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Lies, Albania, and online reviews

5 stars in a half pink half blue background

I found a new sushi place I really liked. I was almost fighting the urge to leave them a positive review mentioning their fantastic customer service skills, punctuality, delicious food, cleanliness, and their chic, elegant restaurant decor.

The day before this, my partner and I returned to this healthy food place we liked. This second time, we left them a bad review and decided not to return even though the first time we went there was great. Alas, we figured the hour-long wait for the simplistic dishes we ordered the first time we went was a one-time thing. We were wrong.

These occurrences got me thinking about reviews, online reviews specifically, so I asked the people that follow me on Instagram the following question.

Online reviews – how often & how soon 

poll answering "How many times after you visit a store or get a service do you leave an online review?" with these results: I don't leave reviews 59.32% The first time 20.34% Only after the 2nd time 11.86% and 2nd time 8.47%
59.32% of respondents don’t leave reviews, 20.34% leave reviews the first time, 11.86% leave them only after the second time and 8.47% leave them the second time

This was the exact question I asked: “How many times after you go to the same restaurant or the same hairdresser do you leave a review?”

According to Stephanie Chevalier’s research for Statista, a company that specializes in consumer data & has more than 1,000,000 statistics on its platform, when looking at a product, Americans expect to see on average 112 online reviews for it.

Unfortunately, it seems like some Albanian companies have come across this stat—or a similar one—and are using it as rationale for something strange, potentially illegal that they’re doing.

Some Albanian companies are manipulating Google and social media reviews.

I doubted this a while back when I noticed the positivity expressed in our online reviews wasn’t at all reflective of how we talk to each other online or offline.

My doubts grew when I came across the literal same review for 2 different businesses.

Since 59.32% of my followers—a big percentage of which are Albanian—said they never leave reviews, my suspicion grew.

The more I scrolled numerous positive reviews, the more I was convinced they were fake, especially considering most of them were from people who had only left one review.

Chances are if you leave reviews, you’ve left more than a single one during your entire life.

The investigation into Albanian fake online reviews continues

Well, I did find a very positive review among the ones I was scrolling through not believing my eyes from a person who had left 5 reviews.

Okay, this seemed legit. Maybe I could trust this person and this business.

I opened her reviews.

You know how Amazon owns a few subsidiaries like AWS, Twitch, Kindle, and IMDb?

Now, think of a similar Albanian company that owns subsidiaries.

Surprisingly, these were the companies this person had reviewed: AWS, Twitch, Kindle, and IMDb. All 5 stars.

In her defense, the 5th review seemed legit. She’d given a restaurant in Italy 5 stars.


Ways to protect yourself as a consumer

  1. Don’t trust Google reviews coming from people who’ve only reviewed one place.
  2. Ask friends for recommendations. Check a few sources.
  3. Leave reviews. Help others know what they should avoid. Show your appreciation for businesses that get it right.

Admittedly, it’s hypocritical for me to say #3 since I don’t leave reviews either, but I’m trying, okayyy?!

If you need some inspiration, I leave you with these 2 wonderful sources of weirdness and delight:

Now I’d like to hear from you! Do you leave reviews?
Took a screenshot of a funny review recently? Share that with me below!

I’d especially like to hear from reformed review skeptics and what made you switch.

Pssst, you can also join the conversation on Instagram.

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