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Why We Provide Only the Basic Information About Our Recommended Listings

Recommended Listings  are submitted by our VIEWERS, who generally provide only the basic information about the business. They do not know the email or Website  addresses and few will undertake the effort to get them, much less write a description of the business.

Note: We are presently undertaking the major effort of contacting our almost 5,000 listees to get their Website addresses.

PAID advertisers, on the other hand, provide all the information needed to market their business -- but they are NOT SCREENED. Therefore, much of the information provided by advertisers to websites supported by advertising revenues is self-serving, which defeats the underlying purpose of a Recommended List.

Many viewers rely upon online opinions in their buying decisions. While most of these reviews are real, too many unfortunately are fabricated.

According to an article written by consumer advocate David Horowitz (whose Emmy-winning TV program Fight Back! warned viewers about defective products, tested advertised claims to see if they were true, and confronted corporations about customer complaints), many review sites “are ripe with review-for-hire, cash-for-comment opportunities. Reputation-management firms have emerged, promising businesses an increase in online product rating for a price. Manufacturers, retailers, employees and salespeople posing as real consumers praise products or services they have an interest in and deprecate competitors. Some companies even offer consumers discounts in return for online praise. Throw recent defamation lawsuit views into the mix and it seems that when it comes to truth in advertising the World Wide Web has become the Wild Wild West.”

 

While it makes sense to check consumer reviews before hiring a contractor or making a major purchase, how can you really know if an online review is legitimate?

Sites such as Yelp (108 million unique visitors per month) and Trip-Advisor (32 million members) claim their review-filtering systems can help weed out online fakes, much more effectively than the Grapevine and other consumer review sites can, but they keep the specifics of their filters under wraps to make it more difficult to evade them.

We believe that viewers seeking comfort from online reviews are better served by offering access to those Websites that have the best reputation for providing this information.  Therefore, we offer in the margins of our listing pages links to the websites of Yelp and Trip Advisor.  Even these should be viewed with caution. We also offer links to the Better Business Bureau (which is often unreliable) and the Federal Trade Commission (which offers not reviews but rather good suggestions for how to deal with vendors and contractors).

Viewers might also want to look at our Grapevine Guides in the related pages.The Guide on “Dealing with Contractors” explains how you should (1) take serious precautions in selecting a contractor, (2) make sure the contract fully protects you and (3) seek redress through several governmental agencies if problems arise despite your precautions.

Bottom line: You should look at online reviews, even those in Yelp and Trip Advisor, with a healthy degree of skepticism and do your own investigation of a vendor or contractor by seeking recommendations from friends and getting references where appropriate (although these too can be self-serving).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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