You’ve done your homework. You’ve tracked down auto shipping companies to move your vehicle to its next location. You’ve gotten quotes, compared and contrasted prices and services, and you’re close to making a decision.
The final step is to look at reviews from other customers. Makes sense, right? Customer testimonials can help you understand how a car shipping company will treat both you and your vehicles. These days, when it is natural for us to search for goods and services online, it’s easy to access reviews about almost any company or product. According to an article in The New York Times:
In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 82 percent of American adults say they sometimes or always read online reviews for new purchases. And more than two-thirds of regular review readers believe that they’re “generally accurate.” (Beaton, Caroline. “Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews.” The New York Times, June 13, 2018)
However, as easy as it is to access reviews, it’s just as easy for disreputable companies to post fake reviews—both positive (5 star) reviews for their own company, and negative (1 star) reviews for their competitors.
Why Would They Lie?
There are many transport companies that have legitimate trustworthy reviews, but—as in any industry—there are always a few dishonest players who try to take advantage of our reliance on online reviews.
Still, the question remains, why would any company choose to do this? The risks to reputation and wallet seem too high; however, here are some possibilities:
- The most obvious answer is that some companies might simply want to attract more business.
- Sometimes it's even more complicated. Companies that have had bad (legitimate) reviews in the past may want to burnish their tarnished reputation, so they hire people to fix that by writing glowing reviews. Not only is this a disturbing practice, but it is also illegal according to the Federal Trade Commission, and false reviews can be heavily fined.
- Some companies might even go so far as to post false negative reviews about their competitors, to try to make their own company look better. False negative reviews can be removed, and they are also susceptible to heavy fines.
According to the ReviewTrackers Blog, it really doesn’t benefit any company to knowingly post false reviews:
Fake online reviews are a violation of the terms of service of all business review sites. This means that any attempt to manipulate your business reputation — or harm that of your competitors — through fake reviews can result in legal action against you. (“How to Spot and Manage Fake Reviews,” Review Tracker Blog, July 28, 2020)
What Should You Look For?
False reviews come in all shapes and sizes, and from a variety of sources. It’s possible to find false reviews anywhere, but especially on sites like Yelp that allow for anonymous reviewing without proof of purchase or evidence that the reviewer received the services.
Fake reviews can come from:
- people who sell both positive and negative reviews
- business owners and marketers trying to attract customers
- disgruntled former employees retaliating against being fired or laid off
- friends, family, and employees who want to support a company with which they have a connection
- customers who write negative reviews in order to get a refund or some other benefit
The truth is that differentiating between real reviews and fake ones isn’t always easy. But being aware is the first step.
Here’s a handy chart of what to look for to help you assess the reliability of a review, with a little more explanation below:
Check Out The Reviewer’s Profile:
Be wary of names that seem too generic (like John Smith) or if all the reviews are by Anonymous. Some people will remain anonymous, especially if writing a negative review, but if there are very few real names then it seems suspicious. If you can check the reviewer’s profile and it looks legitimate—not just created for the moment—then you can have more confidence in the review.
Check Out The Website:
Some review websites do not require any registration for people writing reviews. They can choose a star rating and write a few words without any evidence that they have ever interacted with a company or a product. Because of this, 20% of the reviews on Yelp are fake, according to Business Insider.
Websites that require verification that you are a customer (such as an order ID number or a price quote) tend to have fewer false reviews. For example, check out these awesome reviews for ShipLux on TransportReviews.com, a site that requires verification from its reviewers.
Check Out The Number and Dates of Reviews:
If a company hires someone to write false reviews, then there is a good chance that these reviews will be entered in bulk rather than spread out over time.
Check Out Specifics:
Details matter. Generic (possibly suspicious, though not always) reviews will make short, vague statements, like “Bad service” with no explanation. Compare that to a review like this:
In addition, look for reviews that are 3 stars and up. Middle range reviews tend to be more honest and specific about both pros and cons. That said, sometimes companies are simply so good that they only get five-star reviews ( - even then, it’s rare. People actually love leaving bad reviews.)
While anyone can make typos and grammar mistakes, if there are numerous misspellings or issues, it could indicate that the company hired someone to write these reviews for them. On the other hand, if the language of the review sounds like marketing copy, this can also be a warning sign.
Do Your Research, And Trust Your Gut!
We wish you could simply trust everything you read, but ultimately it comes down to doing the research. It doesn’t hurt to read the reviews, but do it with knowledge and caution.
If you read something that makes you concerned, a reliable company like ShipLux will be open and honest with their communications. Ask them the difficult questions; ask about negative reviews. Get price quotes, and compare services.
Sometimes negative reviews come from frustrated customers who chose the cheapest option, without realizing the services they needed were extras and would cost more. However, with price transparency and honest comparisons, you can trust both your auto transport company, and the reviewers who love them. Happy shipping!