The Truth About Product Review Rating Systems
In our current version of society, almost no product is purchased or service procured without some form of review system. Buyers browse through reviews prior to their product purchase or service engagement, and then are subsequently hounded for the same.
Scarcely moments after a shipping receipt is confirmed or credit card is charged, you are asked to review the product or service you have purchased. How fair are these review systems actually, and can you really trust negative reviews?
What is a negative review?
A negative review is just that, a negative opinion of the goods or services received. A negative review should contain enough information for the reader to understand what the complaint was and how the review writer came to that conclusion. Negative reviews should be heavy on facts and light on opinion. This is quite different from a bad or unfair review.
We’ve all seen this before. You are looking at a fantastic product on Amazon. It gets glowing reviews by all but one person, who gives it an algorithm crashing 1-Star review. Their complaint; they supposedly ordered their item in blue, not black.
While unfortunate, this is a warehousing issue or at best a web design or database mistake, but you can’t ding the product with 1 star because you received the wrong color. This should be flagged as an unfair or bad review, not a negative review. Yet it happens.
Piling on skews results
Recently, RVers witnessed the saga between the Montrose-San Juan RV Resort and YouTubers Jason and Abby from RV Miles. Regardless of whose side you choose to be on in this case, those RVers have earned the right to post a negative review, within the boundaries of common decency and within the rules that are applicable to the site.
The question is, do folks have the right to pile on indiscriminately? This campground’s Yelp score is now down to just 1-star. What’s surprising however is that of the 48 reviews shown, nearly 40 of those were received in the last two weeks, many of them citing the RV Miles incident directly. At least one of these reviews left no useful information other than to say “Terrible business practices….” and offered a link to the original video. One has to wonder if this camper has ever been to that campground?
Can you trust reviews from Yelp?
Based on that data, it would appear that you can’t really trust reviews from Yelp. Typically, good reviews and bad reviews normalize the overall picture and work themselves out, providing an overall fair assessment. In this case, the public’s desire to throw their hat and their two cents into the ring for no other reason than to pile on seems to have worked against the campground. That is not to say it isn’t well deserved, it may be. Still, it makes it tough to trust a review system that lets campers with nothing tangible to say or any way to verify their stay offer up a review.
Who is reviewing reviews from Yelp to ensure accuracy and at least some minimal compliance? Shouldn’t you need to have actually stayed at the place you are reviewing? Additionally, how many of these review sites use pictures or other data to support the review?
Can you trust reviews from Google?
One would imagine the all-seeing, all-knowing Google would deliver up trusted reviews, wouldn’t they? In Google’s economy, the Montrose – San Juan RV Resort receives a 2.1 rating with 208 reviews showing. Here again, we see a plethora of recent reviews, many of them with no valid or valuable information to prove they ever visited this campground.
Some reviews had very specific things to say about this campground and cited examples. Still, other reviews cited no other reason than what was mentioned during a video they saw on YouTube or in one of the many articles circulating the internet.
While ultimately those negative reviews and complaints may prove to be accurate, how fair is it to allow reviews from unqualified guests that never stayed at the campground? Here again, who at Google is ensuring that these reviews are truly viable? If a review is going to be scathing, you had better prove you were at the facility in question.
Reviews can go both ways
Bad information travels upstream too. Very often we see reviews of products, movies, or vacation spots that seem too good to be true. A very high rating with very limited information should always draw the cautious eye. Many sites list how many reviews a particular person has left on their system to try and add credibility to the reviewer.
The sad truth is, raving reviews can’t always be trusted either. The same vetting and criteria should be applied to glowing reviews as it is to damning ones. It’s not uncommon for the owner of a new product or service to find a way to seed reviews and inflate them to give the company a jumpstart on the competition. How hard can it be? Pay a bunch of folks $10 each to give a glowing review on Google and no one is the wiser? For a minimal cash outlay, you can skew the results of one of the largest A.I.’s on the planet.
Who can I trust for accurate reviews?
When it comes to the all-important RV campground, resort, or vacation spot, look no further than CampgroundReviews.com for trusted, accurate reviews. RV LIFE Campgrounds is the most trusted source of campground information, having served RVers for two decades with over 375,000 campground reviews available.
Why RV LIFE Campgrounds can be trusted
It’s not just the longevity or the volume that makes RV LIFE Campgrounds the number one source for trusted reviews. It’s also the process. While the Montrose–San Juan RV Resort’s rating in RV LIFE Campgrounds certainly took a slight ding from their recent publicity, it wasn’t a catastrophic decline. Their campground rating on RV LIFE Campgrounds dropped slightly, down to 5.2, after the recent events.
RV LIFE Campgrounds uses a sophisticated process to ensure that reviewers have actually stayed at the campground. Similarly, there are specific technical checks and balances in place to prevent campground owners from seeding their campground with 5-star reviews.
The review staff at RV LIFE Campgrounds will allow any negative or positive review to be posted, as long as the reviewer has supported their review with a series of relevant, required data fields that prove they truly did visit the campground in question. Reviews that include pictures are also encouraged and at times required, depending on the violation.
Technology and high standards
Regarding the recent rash of negative reviews toward the Montrose – San Juan RV Resort, Janet Humphrey of RV LIFE Campgrounds noted,
“Our team is highly focused trying to suss out who really stayed there and who recently registered simply to post a negative review. We are also wary of reviews that contain no actual information about the park, only the rant.”
Ms Humphrey continues,
“Similarly, we also work to ensure that campground owners are not able to review their own campgrounds to artificially inflate review scores.”
RV LIFE Campgrounds also uses advanced technology to vet overly positive reviews for any campground, especially brand new ones. This not only prevents campers from stumbling upon artificially inflated reviews, it keeps RV LIFE Campgrounds in good standing with campground owners. Those owners realize that the same high standards that protect them from false bad reviews, also protects them from themselves.
Reviews are here to stay
Whether we like them or not, and most of us do, reviews are here to stay. Ultimately caveat emptor prevails and we must hold ourselves accountable for the products and services we purchase. Reviews help us do that, but only if they are vetted and fair.
When it comes to RV parks and campgrounds, RV LIFE Campgrounds is still the gold standard for fair and trusted reviews. On the strength of that data, both RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE app, part of the RV LIFE Pro camping tools, utilize the data from RV LIFE Campgrounds.
All around RV industry enthusiast who has been RVing for 8 years and enjoys trips with his wife and dogs in their diesel pusher.