Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rating Online Business: The Star Rating System

Many of us have been a victim of the stars. No, this doesn't refer to astrology. Rather, the star rating system that is prevalent on many internet shopping sites has led many a shopper astray.

One of the big questions is who determines how many stars a product or a site rates? Another thought is how accurate is the rating? Also, who monitors the accuracy and validity of these ratings?

In many instances, the answer to all three questions is identical: the owner of the site. This is not to say that all ratings are fabrications. Many websites are quite honest and respect the consumer market. However, there is no limit to sites that serve as clearing houses and have little or no control over who posts products or services for sale.

In reality, the star rating should be used to reflect an average of opinions from actual consumers. However, fears of honesty and good old fashioned greed have led many sellers to conduct virtual opinion polls of likewise virtual customers.

The truth is that it is highly unlikely that all products and services have top notch ratings. Even a superior product is bound to have its critics. On the other hand, studies conducted by market research groups have shown that 65 percent of word-of-mouth is positive and only 8 percent is negative. In other words, it is quite likely that many shoppers who have not been pleased by the product or service they purchased online may prefer to say nothing rather than spread negative feelings.

The bottom line is that a website is no different than a conventional store in terms of purchasing. Don't believe everything that you read. Do your own research. Speak to friends who have purchased that product or frequented the seller. Educating yourself is the best consumer protection.

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