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How can reviews improve your online shopping experiences?

Our tips for better online shopping and avoiding fraudulent online retailers.

Millions of consumers benefit from the ease and convenience of buying things over the web every day. And the vast majority of these shoppers have good experiences.

We can see from Trustpilot reviews, however, that there are a few who aren’t so fortunate. This includes, for example, purchases that go sour because a webshop turns out to be fake – the retailer is non-existent, or substitutes cheap counterfeits instead of the real deal.

Fortunately, the latter experience tends to be the exception rather than the rule. But there’s still cause to be wary and do some research before buying.

Here are 4 things to remember when reading Trustpilot reviews:

  • Look at the total number of reviews. If there are only very few reviews of a webshop on Trustpilot, it might be a good idea to take a look at the same retailer on other online portals. Avoid letting a small number of positive or particularly negative reviews form your entire impression of a business.
  • Read reviews thoroughly. Star ratings or scores will give you a quick overall impression, but the devil is in the details. Don’t just look at the business’s TrustScore, for example. To get a more thorough view, read through 10-20 reviews and see what factors people write about as either good or bad. Keep in mind that reviews are subjective - one person’s complaint may cause no problem at all to someone else.
  • Check the date of reviews. If reviews are more than a year old, be particularly careful. The business in question could have changed hands, or switched focus. For example, we’ve seen several instances of online shops going out of business, only to have their web address bought and taken over by someone new. In some cases, the new owner of the website may not be as trustworthy as the original owner.
  • Does the business’s TrustScore on Trustpilot match its website? Unfortunately, a few businesses cheat and display a fake Trustpilot logo or incorrect TrustScore on their websites. We take action when we’re notified about this. But if you’re in doubt about a particular business, check whether the details shown on Trustpilot match what’s on the website.

What else should you look at?

Other things consumers can do to get a more complete picture of an online retailer include scanning their website and other resources available on the internet. For example:

  • Does the website’s address (or URL) correspond to the type of product being sold? If the website’s name or address doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the products being offered for sale on the site, then this could indicate a fake online shop. There are, for example, incidences of fraudsters who buy up website addresses that used to belong to legitimate webshops that have gone out of business, and use these to create fake online shops.
  • Are there any contact details provided for the business? Do these fit with the other aspects of the site? Genuine webshops shouldn’t have anything to hide. But fake websites often have no contact details available, or list phone numbers or addresses that simply don’t add up.
  • Is the language strange? Websites promoting fake stores or counterfeit goods are often created by non-native speakers with the help of tools like Google Translate. Granted, spelling and grammar oddities are more easy to spot in some languages than others, but if the text seems like a translation littered with mistakes, this should raise a red flag.
  • Research a few other places on the Internet. Aside from using Trustpilot, you should also search other places on the Internet. Do a Google search and see if anyone else has written anything about the website you’re thinking of buying from. You can also find out who the registered owner of a website is by going to sites like who.is and doing a search using the web address. If the results of a search don’t seem to add up, treat the site with caution.
  • Use common sense and trust your instincts. Have you come across a deal that seems too good to be true? If so, chances are, it probably is.

What can you do to avoid online fraud?

Nowadays, consumers can draw on a range of different tools to gain insight into the likely legitimacy of a deal. One such tool is online review sites like Trustpilot.

Trustpilot is an online review community that brings together millions of reviews written by the public. We encourage shoppers to share their experiences on Trustpilot to help others make better shopping choices, but our role differs from consumer advocate organizations and the authorities.

What’s the bottom line?

Online review sites are a helpful resource that are best used together with other checks. And they should never replace common sense!

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