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@Gabriele - there is a communication issue with reviews (can the reviewer articulate what they want to get across), and a knowledge issue (is the reviewer skilled enough to be able to separate a product problem from a technical issue *they* are experiencing?). That's why it's a good idea to cross reference information, including with what *you* know.

@JM - I'm thinking he's not so unusual. I've come across people who rip off stuff for profit, online and offline. Some of the thugs would not stay in business if people stopped buying from them.

@Josh - people don't do their homework for many reasons, including the fact that they are too trusting or naive about what they see online, harried, may mistake one link for another recommended by a friend, and so on. I must be old school, I buy often from local merchants with whom I develop a relationship. The few times I shopped online, with the rare exception for books at Amazon, I was disappointed when I saw the actual item up close.

@Christina - hence why I was fascinated by Ariely's chapter on why we seek revenge (reviewed under recommended book). I prefer to trust the opinions of those I met, positive or negative, because I am familiar with their filters and POV. Taking a chance depends on how much effort and resources are required ;)

@Gregory - that is one way of handling things. You are probably familiar with GetSatisfaction, they help customers discuss service issues, which companies and brands can view and troubleshoot.

I do not buy anything unless I can get a reasonable number of reviews to provide me with an idea whether this purchase will work for me. It is all a matter of probabilities of course, but it worked for me for years now. I am such a believer that I started a company that developed technology to "calculate" product reputation based on customer reviews. Saves a lot of time from "manually" searching for them and reading them, and helps manufacturers to learn how customers experience their products.

Its human nature for people to not only talk about negative experiences but actually enjoy reading them and passing them along. I am guilty of not writing reviews when things are good (with the exception of a great book), yet I was out to dinner the other night and my boyfriend and I checked online reviews before we placed our order.

I would place some importance on sites with a 'stamp of approval'. Like on ebay for instance, I will only purchase from vendors with this seal. Not necessarily a review, but eBay is standing by them so I have confidence.

Sometimes, though, you need to just take a chance and see what happens. You may miss out on some great, if not memorable, experiences just by trusting everyone else's opinions.

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