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Can We Trust the Review Websites?

YES! Most of the reviews on reputable review websites are genuine, however here are some guidelines to further examine the authenticity of the reviews. I am sharing this from my research experience.
How to Scrutinize the Review Details
How to perform a proper research before your much anticipated big day? There are a few platforms which I go to for reviews, such as Google, Facebook, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Lowyat Forum, blogs, etc. compiles reviews from different websites (with source URL included) as well as its own, and organizes them into one page to ease the research work. Even though each platform has its own mechanism to somewhat control the content of the reviews or comments to be genuine and not violate its policy, there are bound to be loopholes. 
  • If a vendor keeps on creating a new Facebook account every now and then, maybe something is fishy. Check the FB page creation date by scrolling down the home page/ photo page to the first post or first photo posted. Check the date.
All positive reviews are recent and no older reviews on the vendor’s Facebook Page – there is a possibility that a new FB Page has been created to replace the old one. Try checking if there are any older postings.

  • If most of the reviews say something good about the vendor but only one mentions terrible things, or vise versa, I would rather believe in the majority.
If the majority of the reviews are consistently saying the same thing, most probably it is true
  • You can track the commenters by clicking on their profile, sometimes it will reveal their identity, maybe they are a competitor or partner, etc., whether or not they are credible.
Click on the profile to see who is the person behind the review

On TripAdvisor, you can check out the contributor’s stats and credibility. If the reviews are distributed negatively, it shows that the contributor is hard to please and vise versa. The bigger number of contributions reduces the possibility of an imposter. More “Helpful votes” is a good sign.

  • Reviewer who posts additional info/ photos about their visit or engagement with the merchant is more trustworthy. 
Contributor of Tripadvisor posting pictures of the memorable experience at Westin KL.

  • Some admin of forum/ review platform copy and paste reviews they get somewhere else onto their own page, pretending to be their own users’ comments, without referring or back linking it to the original site. Check the date of the comments, a particular vendor has only 12 comments, all within the same day… Something is not right.

Can the Vendor Delete a Bad Review Whenever they want?
The answer is NO. A vendor is required to flag the review to be removed, it is up to the administrator of each Review Website/ Platform to assess whether or not the particular review will be removed, according to the company’s guidelines. For example:

Reviews that violate the Google review policies (For example: spam, fake, illegal, sexually explicit, offensive content, off-topic, hate speech, harassment…) can be removed from Google My Business listings.
Vendors should only flag reviews that violate Google policies. They should not flag a review just because they disagree with it or don’t like it. Google doesn’t get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there’s no reliable way to discern who’s right about a particular customer experience. They should read the policy before flagging a review.
It can take several days for a review to be assessed and possibly removed.
You can report reviews that don’t follow the Facebook Community Standards or don’t focus on the product or service offered by the Page. Facebook will review the report and may remove reviews that don’t follow the guidelines. You can only report star ratings that include reviews.
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