Five star ratings for online shoppers are not always legitimate

Five star warning
Posted at 2:43 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 17:50:10-05

The cyber shopping season is heating up, and with it comes plenty of competition. If you're one of those people who relies on five-star reviews to inform your purchase... you might want to think again.

Close to 80 percent of online shoppers, according to the Better Business Bureau, rely on five-star ratings.

"Customer reviews are are huge for businesses and can make or break their business." says Rebecca Barr from the Better Business Bureau.

The exact worth of each review depends on the company, but 6 On Your Side found one willing to pay a disgruntled customer $20 to write a positive review. And when the shopper took offense and wrote a bad review instead, they received a note from the business offering a $50 gift card to remove it and write a five-star review.

"So that really is a form of customer view padding," says Barr.

How common is this? We found the same company actually posted a review from someone complaining that they hadn't received their payment for leaving a review. This is not illegal, but it can ruin a business if discovered, and Barr says the BBB checks to make sure it's business partners are not writing their own reviews.

"If we start to see an influx of reviews coming through with that same IP address or they're starting to see a pattern of reviews that say the same things, we would look into it a little bit further." says Barr. "It's all about transparency between the business and the consumer."