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Online Reviews: How To Spot A Fake

April 12, 2011, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Online Reviews: How To Spot A Fake
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The last time you bought something online, did you read the review?  Online shoppers use those when making purchase decisions on everything form TVs to computers to booking hotels and rental cars.
But how do you know if that review is for real, or a fake?

The Regency Hotel Chain has 28 properties across the country, including the Club House Suites and Ramkota in Sioux Falls. The hotel business says online reviews are vital to getting customers.

"We, as a company, monitor it as much as we can and are constantly in contact with hotels and we've mandated everyone respond, positive or negative, within 48 hours on the sites where we're allowed to do so. Our hotels, it's definitely a part of our customer service effort at every hotel," Erin Butler of Regency Hotel Management said.

Regency doesn't post reviews on its own site and figures customers would take those less seriously than those on third-party sites like Trip Advisor. And Butler says it would be difficult for any company to "fake" reports.

"When it initially rolled out, we would ask people to sit down at computers in the lobby and post positive comments if their stay was positive and the problem is when too many posts come from the same IP address, they flag that and don't post it," Butler said.

"Reviews are one component to your online presence. But they're a big part of it, so you've got to pay attention to them," online marketer James Krueger said. 

Krueger says there are tell-tale signs of a fake review, planted either by a company, a competitor, a disgruntled employee or a paid professional.

"Looking at things like, copy, is it really professionally written? They might have hired a blogger to write something, if they're using overly technical comments, product driven I.D. numbers; that's probably a professional writing about something there," Krueger said.

Krueger says it's important that customers don't base their choices on just one or two reviews they read online.

"It's like anything where you have to take the good and bad.  People are going to love it, hate it, truth in the middle. You have to do your research," Krueger said.

Just last month, the FTC fined a Tennessee company $250,000 for deceptive advertising after the company hired a public relations firm to write fake consumer reviews of its product.

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