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.
John Koenig says
I have NOT stayed at the campground in question so, I will not comment on said campground. I AM a Full Time RVer and, regularly receive prescription medications which are delivered by FedEx, UPS or the USPS. It never occurred to me that ANY commercial campground would NOT allow the delivery of mail or packages. I will have to update the questions I ask when I call to make a reservation. I now wonder what other questions I need to ask but haven’t though to do so.
Drew Mueller says
If I look at reviews anywhere, I look for a common tilt in them but I generally won’t make a decision to go there unless all the reviews are very good to excellent. However, I mostly want to see pictures of the place- with emphasis on the camp spaces and views around the property. Money for fees and nightly stays makes very little sense. If it’s obviously a nice spot, I expect to pay for it.
Ray Clark says
There is a campground we use that has some bad reviews.
One complains that they were not given the codes for the bath and laundry, well they are on your paperwork so you probably snuck in after hours!
Others are for another campground with a similar name that’s actually a trailer park
tom mason says
I never use yelp and read product reviews to judge for myself if a product is what I’m looking for. I’m betting that there are people out there that give a great item 4 stars and would have done 5 except that it wasn’t free.
P Rose says
Keep in mind that all lies contain a semblence of truth.
Jeffrey P Bennett says
I only use http://www.campgroundreviews.com. I have never stayed at the park in question. When I look at reviews for a park, I look at the reply if it is bad or negative I will look at how many other reviews this person has submitted, many times I find that they submit nothing but bad ones. No park on the planet could ever make them happy. Yelp, Google etc. I never use as so many are paid for. If for example they do not state on their web site we do not except packages. I would never stay at any park that would not allow for a delivery., Anyone who writes one every day and everything is a 1 Star I would just believe it is a very mad person and ignore it as most do not give any credible reasons or information. I have stayed at over 400 parks from Good Sam, KOA etc. I have had only 4 bad experiences. I also always look at the $$$ rating that will give on some in site.
Mary Kay Metcalfe says
Having 2 of my reviews on CampgroundReviews.com edited by the staff before they were posted, I have first-hand experience on how fair and careful they are. I admit that for one of my reviews I was on fire with anger when I wrote it, and they gently pushed back asking me to tone it down. At first I balked, then realized they were right. Thanks for this informative article!
The first thing I look at whether good or bad review … how many reviews has the writer posted. I can then judge whether they are ‘planted’ reviews. Yes, I review most every CG or boondocking we do because I’ve gotten unbiased info and just paying it forward.
So I watched their video. Why I think the rule is dumb too, it’s the campgrounds rule. I agree the rule should be prominently posted to avoid any confusion and prevent this. That being said she was over dramatic, about the traumatized kids you could hear laughing in the background. Blaming the sheriffs for, you know doing their job and keeping the peace between you and the manager . Did you think they would help you break down camp. They stayed back and left you alone. How awful. Sweetie I’m sure the officers would prefer not to be there either. They weren’t nasty or mean cause you would have shown that video for sure . So some final points! When your are out RV-ing you are on private property. This means you have to follow the rules whether you agree with them or not. If you don’t they can ask/ or /order you to leave . If you refuse. Your a defiant trespasser and in most states that a misdemeanor. Ps looked into Fedex thing. Assorted Reasons RV resorts don’t like packages . 1 don’t like being stuck with packages people missed cause left early or arrived late . 2 don’t like being blamed for damaged packages cause u gotta sign for them. 3 amount of people who actually ship Illegal drugs And other illegal things to themselves . Really surprising! So final thoughts. you have to read all the reviews On a campground and make some informed decisions for yourself about the reviewer. Some people make real relevant complaints that can influence you to not stay there . Other reviews you can tell people are just being ridiculous And should ya e put the phone down.
John Barrett says
Conversely, can you really trust positive reviews? I’ve been led astray by influencers and bloggers who are paid to write positive reviews.
Seann Fox says
Whether positive or negative mini reviews are faked. The CBC program marketplace (yes I’m Canadian) did a program on that a few years ago where the invented online a mobile food truck that made quote the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the country and quote the truck never existed other than a digital rendition it never served a single grilled cheese sandwich but they paid companies to write reviews claiming how wonderful it was and they got thousands of them. So now I take all reviews with great skepticism.
Philip Johnson says
Although in general I agree with the gist of your analysis of reviews, you picked a very poor example by using the experience of the Eppersons at the Montrose – San Juan RV park. The manner in which the owners/managers handled their situation is so egregious as to condemn them as park stewards. The negative reviews they are now receiving on the internet are a good way of disseminating this information to all campers. Poor customer relations is just that.
My wife and I are full-timing in a private campground where my wife is workamping to pay for our site. She handles the front desk most of the time and sees all kinds of behaviors and attitudes from guests, but the management always bends over backwards to accommodate the patrons. Even when a recent fight broke out between guests which required calling the police (and this also is in Colorado) the extremely heavy-handed approach taken by the Montrose park manager was neither appropriate or utilized.
The manager of the Montrose/San Juan campground deserves the skewering that he is currently receiving.
Road Ranger says
I agree with Mr. Bennett. Some people seem to be mad at the world and want everyone to join them. You can never satisfy those people.
Lawrence Leach says
About 5% negative reviews or less is usually good. You can’t please all the people all the time. Above 10% I start looking elsewhere.
Paul Goldberg says
I depend on reviews, especially if I am planning more than an overnight stop. We are less concerned about amenities other than utilities because we seldom go to a cg as a destination in itself. I am concerned about reports of noisy rail or road issues. We try to avoid places with lots of low hanging trees and difficult site entrances, but some of those can be the best once situated.
Lisa Harris says
I would not stay at a park that doesn’t allow a package to be delivered and I would comment why. Sometime a pharmacy in a small town takes days to get a medicine refill. I find it comforting to know I can depend on my family to get the meds and overnight it to me.
I usually read 3 star comments to see why 3 stars. If there are many 1 and 2 stars I usually avoid the RV site.
Jason Epperson says
Since I’m mentioned here :), I’d like to add that the rating of this park didn’t actually dip much anywhere. It was in the toilet before our visit. Maybe 2 stars on Yelp instead of 1. We agree, take reviews with a grain of salt, and actually read what people write to see if it applies to you. In this situation, we were suckered in by the fact they list “Under New Management” on their website, which seemed to be confirmed by the fact that it left the Jellystone system less than a year ago. It was a rouse.
Norma Peters says
Personally I would not expect a campground to accept a package for me unless I first specifically asked them if I could have one sent. If they said no I would respect that answer. We have traveled all over the country and I can honestly say we have never had a bad experience at any of them. I research reviews and as long as there are quite a few good ones I will see for myself and I found that we had no problem and even liked the campground. I know you cannot please everyone all the time and I guess we are pretty easy to please. We travel with 4 dogs and I always make sure 4 are welcome. One campground specified small and I called and said I had 2 tiny and 2 medium size but all were well behaved. They did allow us to bring all 4 dogs and wrote it in on our reservation that they were approved by the owner to stay there. I think if you give people at the campground common courtesy they will do the same for you. I had to get 2 human very rare medications for one dog while delayed on a trip one time. I called Walgreens in the town I was in and they had the prescriptions faxed to them from my vet in Georgia and they did check and as I thought they did not stock either medication. My own pharmacy does not stock either of them so I make a point to call them ahead of time and they order it which can take several days. I figure it’s my responsibility to make sure a campground would not have to accept a package for me.