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- Why Google isn't your friend when shopping ....
Why Google isn't your friend when shopping ....
Most consumers today have a healthy amount of skepticism for reviews that are posted on the same website as the company that wants to sell you something. People have figured out that the company has employees or a web designer in charge of those reviews and can weed out the bad reviews or just write their own little works of fiction. While this is misleading, it can result in greater sales for a while. Over time, as consumers have become educated this method has become ineffective. So, what do these companies do now? They host fake "review" sites
As an aside, this article was originally published on our website and we've decided to share it with The Mattress Underground community. Although the original intent was aimed towards adjustable Beds (our specialty) the same unethical practices on the Internet are every bit as prevalent when mattress shopping. So just substitute the word "mattress" wherever you see "Adjustable Bed".
Using a search engine and entering terms like "Best Adjustable Bed", "Highest Rated Adjustable Bed" or "Top Rated Adjustable Bed" is a very troublesome exercise in deception. Why do we say that? You will encounter many "shell" websites that appear to be reviews of adjustable beds who will rank their findings and make recommendations. So, the question becomes: How do I know if you're looking at a REAL review site or one posted by a vendor?
Let us educate you just a little bit. We don't want to "beat up" a single company but we'll use one company as an example, AmeriSleep. They're by no means the only company engaged in this advertising deception, but they're pretty blatant in their efforts. In your search for the "Best Adjustable Bed", you might find one of these sites . . . .
These websites are designed to appear as though they are legitimate reviews of adjustable bed brands. That's NOT what they are. These are simply a misleading form of advertising for AmeriSleep. So far I've found more than 10 of these sites. On the first site listed above, they're "supposedly" reviewing Adjustable Bed BRANDS. Let's look at who's listed in first place . . . AmeriSleep.
One MAJOR giveaway here. AmeriSleep is a retailer and NOT a brand. Today (July 17th, 2018) their list goes five "brands" deep (if you scroll down the page) and never mention Leggett & Platt as a "brand". Leggett & Platt is the dominant player in the Adjustable Bed market and has been making these beds long before anyone else. The other two sites follow the same theme. According to these "review" sites, AmeriSleep is the top bed and they are a manufacturer. This is an obvious attempt to mislead consumers and I'm sure quite a few people fall for this.
The ownership of these websites is hidden from public view. When registering a domain you can elect to hide your ownership from WHOIS searches. WHOIS is an online tool used to look up the ownership and server location of a website. It's a good way to verify website authenticity. You can Google WHOIS and use it yourself, it's a publicly available service. All these websites show the same information when looked up using *WHOIS. Two of these sites are registered with a service called Domain By Proxy and Registrant Name is "Registration Private". The other site is registered with another anonymous service. This anonymity isn't free. Whoever registers a website domain has to "opt in" and pay a fee to be hidden and then pay an annual fee to remain hidden from the public. So, this is intentional and not a coincidence.
Here's a link to WHOIS:
But here's quite the coincidence, Domains By Proxy and AmerSleep are BOTH located in Scottsdale, Arizona...
This is NOT an honest way of doing business. And unless a shopper is very Internet savvy, they'll never suspect a thing. They'll just assume AmerSleep HAS to be a really good company. After all, several websites say so and nobody lies on the Internet. Right?
Quite a few adjustable bed shoppers are senior citizens. The greatest percentage of them use the Internet but don't really know how this form of deception is practiced or just how widespread the problem can be. AmeriSleep isn't the only seller using these deceptive practices, they're just one of the most blatant
Now you know!
Thank you for sharing with TMU community your insights about some of the commonly used deceptive sales and advertising practices used to manage consumer perception and take advantage of ignorance and confusion. This state is heavily exploited with different tech/internet mechanisms and general marketing clichés.
To add more to the picture here are a couple of older articles New York Times and the Guardian on fake reviews (not fake review sites) and also this NYT article talking about “online reviews that are less trustworthy than we think”
The good news is that there is an increased public awareness and openness to see through these marketing tactics. I am always glad of any concerted effort to inform, educate, and provide consumers with the critical skills and abilities needed with any purchasing decision.
Promoting factual and accurate information along with any efforts to enhance service offerings is the only way I know to empower and truly win a satisfied consumer.