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Read the Reviews!

If you use your computer to shop online, you know the advantages over buying the same item in the store: no leaving the house, traipsing from store to store, parking, looking for a salesperson, or lugging the bags to the door. Let the UPS guy do that.

Of course there is no trying it on or trying it out — and there’s that pesky shipping charge — but these negatives often pale in comparison to the convenience of internet shopping.

There is one more advantage to shopping, or at least browsing, online: customer reviews.

Except for what the salesperson in a store can tell you about a product, you can’t know what others who own the product think of it. On the internet, you can.

Many stores that sell items online encourage customers to rate and review their products on the website. Take the time to read what others have said. This information can factor into your decision.

When reading reviews, keep in mind:

  • The very best reviews could be written by store employees (or paid reviewers), and the very worst reviews could be written by the store’s competitors.
  • One or two reviews is not a representative sample. Read as many as you feel are necessary to convey a clear pattern of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  • Read the negative reviews carefully to see why these reviewers are dissatisfied. Some expectations are not realistic; some complaints concern features you don’t care about.
  • Skip reviews that just describe the product. Rather, look for the ones that describe the experience: ease of assembly, durability, operation, etc.

Product reviews might not make or break your purchase decision, but they can give you an insight into what others thought. And, if you do buy the product and love it — or hate it — write your own review. Others will appreciate your contribution.

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