Friday, November 21, 2008

Sucky Tech # 3 - Trustpilot

Trustpilot, a shining example of innovative tech that at first glance looks like something you might want or need, but on deeper analysis, maybe you’re better off seeing what other people are saying about this product before installing it on your own machine.

The Tech. It’s a toolbar you plug into your browser. You get a green light for a site that has positive reviews. Orange for a site with average ratings and reviews. Red light for sites with mostly negative reviews and complaints. Ratings come from the company scanning the net for reviews and ratings from all across the web and compiling it in their database. Sounds like a great tool.

Have you ever made positive comments about a commercial transaction where all that happened was that you got what you expected? This scenario covers pretty much most of my online transactions. I’ve bought a lot of things where I have paid, waited for my stuff and got it. Never inspired me to go back to the site and write a glowing review.

It makes me sceptical of the people who do write these positive reviews unless they had some special request and got some kind of exceptional service. Plus, if this kind of review aggregation and statistical analysis became popular couldn’t you game the system by writing rave reviews of your own products and services?
Bad reviews on the other hand I can understand. No need to explain what kinds of things inspire enough outrage to cause people to make their displeasure public. On the other hand, some people are just dumb.

A year or two back I was scouring the net looking for a good price for an A/V receiver that had HDMI out. One review I read on the negatives for a Yamaha receiver on the Future Shop website read, “... only passes HD video through HDMI to the TV, won’t pass 5.1 surround sound to TV.” To the uninitiated looking for the best bang for his buck, this would seem to be lacking an important feature.

This made me wish there was a forum for reviewing the reviewers. Never heard of 5.1 surround coming out of a TV. The Sony Bravia, probably one of the best sounding TV’s out there right now, only has two speakers. I may be wrong but I don’t think that there is a TV with more than two speakers. If it did have four speakers + center channel + subwoofer, how big is the frickin TV? Do you sit inside it? The whole reason for buying a 5.1 channel receiver is to put the speakers around you.

The point is, looking at raw stats without examining the context is not going to give you a clear picture of the story. The raw number of complaints may be valuable if a site or company has a lot of pissed off customers but people need to take a broader sample to get to the facts. People who are unsatisfied for any reason are vocal. Most of the time, satisfied customers are not.

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