Recently, Johnny and I watched The Net. If you’ve never seen it, Sandra Bullock plays a top notch computer hacker in the mid-90s. With her hacking skills, she can actually order a pizza ONLINE!!!
Less than 20 years ago, the days of online shopping were a mere figment of some movie director’s vivid imagination. And now, here we are in 2014 where online shopping has made it possible to almost never leave the house. And even better than shopping online? Reading online product reviews. I’m obsessed with making the best decision when spending is involved. I may be the spender in our marriage, but I’m a calculated spender. I pore over reviews before making almost any purchase, whether its clothes, hotels, books, or even a spatula.
My top place to read reviews is Amazon.com. Even if I’m about to purchase a product in a brick and mortar store, I look up the reviews for that product on Amazon first — usually in the middle of a store aisle while Sally grabs things off the shelves. Johnny is equally obsessed. He can’t make a hotel reservation without first reading every TripAdvisor review out loud to me.
Needless to say, we’re hooked. And reading online reviews actually helps our budget because we rarely make impulse purchases. I have to read at least a dozen reviews on a product and then compare it to half a dozen similar products before we actually buy it.
Here are a few items we’ve bought recently and the incredible reviews that sealed the deal for us:
This may seem like a strange purchase. Nevermind that it has 1,269 reviews on Amazon. People are passionate about their breakfast sandwiches, I guess. Johnny’s been eyeing this thing for a while (don’t ask me why), and we had $30 left on a gift card, so we took the plunge after reading this guy’s review. We’ve been very pleased with our purchase, and we talk about the legendary Kilgore Trout every time we make a breakfast sandwich.
In December, our vacuum broke. We scoured the Internet for a few weeks, and then we were given a Best Buy gift card for Christmas, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to save money on a new vacuum. This vacuum had incredible reviews on Amazon and Best Buy, such as this one. So far, it’s lived up to the hype.
I’ve been reading car seat reviews for months. I’ve read hundreds. I wanted a car seat close to $200 that was both safe and super comfy for road trips. It’s well documented that Sally’s terrible in the car, so comfort was make or break for our sanity. One reviewer’s description (combined with a $25 off Amazon promotion, which is still going on!) was the deciding factor in purchasing this seat. The jury’s still out on this car seat since we’ve yet to install it in our car, but we have high hopes.
And here’s an Amazon review you won’t be able to stop reading even if you want to. I don’t apologize for sharing it. WARNING: Reader discretion is advised.
What I’ve learned from reading thousands of reviews
- Consider the price range/reviewer audience. If a low-end product has five stars, it’s probably really good for being low end. Don’t purchase it expecting it to be as good as its high-end counterparts.
- Some people complain about the process instead of the product. For this reason, I don’t just look at the number of stars, but I read the reviews themselves. Some people will complain about the shipping or packaging, which aren’t knocks on the product, but the process itself. It takes a little more time to read the reviews, but it makes all the difference.
- Make sure the item has multiple reviews. One 5-star or 1-star review isn’t usually reliable. Just like data is more reliable when more people have been surveyed, so it is with reviews.
Are we the only ones who have to read at least 20 reviews before making a purchase, or are there other crazies like us out there? Show yourselves! This is a judgement-free zone.