Should Online Reviews Be Considered A Reliable Source?
A product review is much more credible than a contractor review because with a product review, your entire purchase could be verified if the transaction was performed online whereas it’s very difficult if not impossible to do the same with a contractor review. Unfortunately through the years this question hasn’t received any clarity and has only gotten more complex. This is due to a variety of different issues but mostly because there have been online businesses built solely around contractor referrals. Those businesses enable the contractor to pay for a positive profile mostly based on the amount of money they spend on advertising dollars with them. The very few companies that do perform any due diligence on the contractor’s previous work references are provided by the same contractor whom is under review. They can’t even verify that the work was ever even done. Usually they’ll just ask for 3 references with their phone numbers and they’ll call the references to validate that they had a successful experience. I don’t see how that can be valid when the contractor provides all the content. Nobody goes to view the completed job because it’s nearly impossible to even verify that there was one.
As far as free online reviews, this is far worse and could be much more damning. I’ve read of instances where contractors pay for free reviews to damage a competitor or to bolster their own online presence. That does not mean in any way that all online reviews are not valid. I’m sure a good amount are but how can you really trust it when an often result is an anonymous person submitting multiple reviews under different pseudo names about a contractor, good or bad without ever having done business with them. There truly is no way to verify the claims. My point is you should never hinge your decision to interview or hire a contractor based on online reviews because they are not a credible source. Usually the best way to get a good, reliable contractor is to be referred to them by a family member, neighbor, friend or colleague who has a history with them. Second, be certain to do your research on the contractor before hiring them. There are a lot of local avenues you could take as a homeowner to research a contractor.