Can You Trust Online Reviews for Home Automation Products?


Online reviews are a popular way for shoppers to research all kinds of purchases, from televisions to cars to lawnmowers to books. Big companies put a lot of money behind the acquisition of online reviews, often running contests or offering a loyalty-like program that gives reviewers points that translate into coupons.

Online reviews are a great way for brands to promote their brands too, and you’ll often see them posting the ones with the most information – or the most humor – on their social media sites or using them in their other advertising.

If you’ve spent any time reading online reviews, you’ll see that people often reference other reviews in their review. They will say things like “I was nervous to try this after reading the reviews…” Or maybe they say something like “Don’t listen to the other reviews…” I’ve also seen people with more recent reviews mention that a previous problem was addressed and is no longer an issue.

Home automation products are tricky when it comes to online reviews, since you never really know what the tech-savvy level of the user is. Here are three things you should look out for to help you determine how much you can trust the home automation product online reviews you are reading:

1. They Were Paid for a Positive Review

Paid reviews are slowly being managed and phased out by big retailers like Amazon, but they still exist. Reviewers used to have to disclose that they were paid for their review, but now the industry is moving away from that altogether. Keep an eye out for disclaimers at the bottom of older reviews so you can classify them as those that were paid or given free product in exchange for a review.

2. They Have a Track Record of Griping

The problem with online reviews might not be the process itself, but more like the people that utilize it and their motivation. While perk programs are helping those with positive feedback to come out, many online reviews are motivated by negative experiences – or just negative people. We all know that one person that seems to have a bad experience everywhere they go, and at some point you have to call the common thread as that person. On sites like Yelp, you can actually check out the reviewer; if they have tons of griping reviews and zero positive ones, they are probably just a complainer.

3. They Are on a Personal Mission to Destroy the Brand or Product

Worse still are those that are on a personal mission to destroy a product or brand because they had a bad experience. While I understand how frustrating it is to feel like you got screwed over, I cannot trust the opinion of someone that is on this mission. They will clearly have a bias view. If you see the same person commenting on every retailer review program, or trashing the brand/product on every social post during your research, discount them.
I myself tend to use online reviews as part of my research process, but it is only one tactic of many. I try to also see if I can get a store demo and talk to a salesperson about the features, benefits, and complaints about the product. I also try to find someone that I know that has personal experience so that I can get their feedback and, hopefully, a live demo of how they are using it.

What do you think? Are online reviews trustworthy for tech products?

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.