Ask the Readers: Do You Read Product Reviews Before Buying?

By Ashley Jacobs on 29 January 2013 (Updated 24 June 2014) 99 comments
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Editor's Note: Congratulations to katie m, Tabathia, and Betty for winning this week's contest!

Making decisions on big purchases can be difficult! Many people spend lots of time researching prices, warranty info, and other relevant facts to their potential purchase. On top of that, many people take the time to read reviews on their potential purchase before actually buying an item. However, there are some people who buy without taking the time to do research or read reviews!

Do you read product reviews before buying? Where do you go to read reviews? If you don't read reviews before buying something, how do you decide whether or not to buy?

Tell us if you read product reviews before buying and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
katie m

I almost always read reviews of products since I don't trust marketing that much. I usually take them with a grain of salt though.

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Therese

I always read reviews before buying big-ticket items. I just google the ones I'm interested and add "review". This usually gives me enough information to make an informed choice.

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Aubrey

Yes! I usually check Amazon for reviews, but will Google as well. For me, if an item has 25+ reviews on Amazon at 4 stars or more, I feel pretty confident in my purchase. If it has fewer reviews, I tend to read them for quality to evaluate the item.

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Carmen

Sometimes. If the item is a big purchase (car, refrigerator, etc) or electronic (video camera), then I try and read reviews. Often what sounds like a good deal turns out to be a lemon

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Lani C

Yes, I read reviews, mostly on amazon or other retailer websites.

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Christie

Absolutely! I check all the reviews, good or bad, because sometimes a person gives something a bad review when the product just came in a bad package and it has nothing to do with the product use whatsoever. But sometimes, the bad reviews tell you what the product is really like. You have to use wisdom and choose wisely which reviews to believe.

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Betty

I always read the reviews on Amazon. Sometimes a product sounds great, but folks will tell you the cons that the company won't.

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Mary Happymommy

I usually read Amazon reviews before I buy.

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Kristine E.

I almost *always* read reviews before purchasing. I want to know what issues to look for.

Guest's picture

I don't always read reviews before I purchase something, but I do if it's something that I would consider a larger purchase. I can think of three instances in which I've done this:

1. When I purchased a lapdesk. I had gone through two plastic ones in a year (I broke them in half), so I did about a week's worth of research reading reviews and deciding on what I wanted, and I purchased a bamboo lapdesk from B&N in 2010 that I still have. It was a little expensive (about twice as much as the others), but it's lasted for six times as long, and I don't see that changing in the future.

2. When I purchased my laptop. I had gone on the advice of another person the last time I made that purchase, so this time I wasn't going to make that mistake. I spent about a month reading reviews and really thinking about what I needed in a computer. I ended up with a $650 Asus laptop that I also purchased in 2010 that is still going strong.

3. When I picked out an e-reader (that I ended up getting for Christmas). After deciding what features were really important to me (e.g. touchscreen, expandable memory, wi-fi) and what weren't (access to Netflix), I settled on a Nook Simple Touch (and not just because it was cheapest!).

Usually if I'm making a purchase that I'm researching, it's because it's something that I want to last forever and is almost always electronics :)

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Kim

Absolutely I read the reviews. Amazon is a great place to check reviews on all sorts of things--but, honestly, I rarely shop anymore from any store (online) that doesn't post customer reviews.

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Melissa Frazier

When looking to buy a new product, I always take reviews into consideration. In the beginning it was hard to determine what was a ligitimate complaint and what was just a personal opinion due to operator error! Amazon is my favorite place to get reviews!

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Diane

I always read reviews. There's no better way than to let someone else try it out first! :-)

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Liz

Absolutely. My husband and I were thinking of getting a top of the line dishwasher instead of the more standard model we've picked out for our new home, but after reading the reviews we chose to stay with the standard. We googled the model numbers and read reviews on as many sites as we could find.

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Andy C

Absolutely read product reviews. As a matter of fact, I am kind of OCD about it. I once got burned on a high dollar purchase from an online retailer and had to dispute the charge with my CC company. Ever since that happened, I will find reviews on an item from every site possible, even youtube video reviews. Not only do I look for reviews about the product, but also reviews on the vendor.

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KF

Even if I'm not buying a product on Amazon I usually go there to look at reviews. I stay away from the 5 and 1 star reviews. Usually the 3 star reviews are the most informative.

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DC

I also read reviews generally start with Amazon followed by Ebay. Final stop on the product review tour is consumer reports. Reading up on products before purchasing makes too much sense (and cents)!

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Catherine Robinson

We read product reviews online before major purchases. Sometimes, we will also go to the library and look at "Consumer Reports," but lately that hasn't seemed as necessary, since we can find most of what we want online. Occasionally, we also ask friends, perhaps via Facebook, what their experiences have been.

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christine

In the past I have been an occasional review reader. After an experience over the holidays though, I am more likely to read reviews before buying. I had asked my fiance for a pair of earrings for Christmas that I had seen in a catalog. They were beautiful but when I received them, I found them very hard to secure in my ears. When I went to return them, I found that all four reviewers for these earrings had the same problem that I had--they couldn't fasten them in their ears either! Now, I will read reviews before buying something.

Guest's picture
WendL

Not only do I use Amazon's product reviews before purchasing, I even read reviews for items I already have: it's amazing how much I learn. I was recently given whitening strips from my dentist. I had trouble using them, so I checked out the Amazon reviews, and lo and behold, found my answer!! I don't know what we did before Amazon reviews.

Guest's picture
Trish

Hi
I definitely read product reviews before I buy any product normally from several sources. I use Amazon.com and will google the product with "review" behind it.
Thanks for the opportunity to win.
hugs,
Trish

Guest's picture
Melanie W

I read reviews for items over $100, especially electronics/computer gear and items for the kids. I'll check what people are saying at different websites of stores that carry the item and Google ones in the running. If I'm spending that kind of money on something I want to be sure it will last and meet my needs.

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Elena

I read Amazon reviews before buying

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Sarah

Oh, most definitely. Back in the day, you'd ask friends, neighbors, family. Online reviews are no different. Further, it's easy to determine who's legitimately criticizing/favoring a product and who has an axe to grind.

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Brittany

It depends on what I am purchasing whether or not I read reviews. In most cases I do. Most of my online shopping is done on Amazon, so that is the majority of the review reading that I do. If it is a large purchase or an item that I am personally not too familiar with, then I usually google it.

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Jim Burdine

Yes, I read the reviews and try to average the data, screening out the obvious trashing from those that are just malcontents and the overly glowing evals.

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Melanie

It depends on the product and if I have seen it in real life.
If it is a book and I've seen it in a store but held off on buying it until it came out in paperback then I don't generally bother with reviews.
However if its an electronic device then I will obsessively read every review and then completely ignore them in favour of what someone has told me in RL.
For me a real life review by someone I know or respect (like an author) is much more likely to sway me than written reviews. I am very rarely put off buying something by if I read a bad review, although multiple bad reviews would make me pause and do a bit more research.

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Tiffany S.

Yes, I always read product reviews when looking into buying products, especially expensive ones. They influence me greatly.

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Kimberly Michel

I read reviews only when I am not sure about the company I am buying the product from and I always read the reviews on non-fiction books. I usually just read the reviews on the website from which I am making the purchase, but occasionally I will just do a Google search for reviews and if it is electronics, I usually stick with PCMag or CNet.

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Monica

I read product reviews on bigger ticket items or if I am looking for something specifically for quality. It doesn't happen often because I usually buy from what's the cheapest, not reviews.

Guest's picture

Most definitely! I almost always do extensive research on anything I'm about to buy, even when I know I'm not going to buy it actually. If I can find positive videos it's a lot more persuasive than written reviews though.

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Michael

I absolutely read the reviews, I try for most items to look on Amazon first as I know they typically get a very good cross section of reviews. I generally discard 5 star and 1 star reviews, as I found I get the information that most directly ties to things I care about from 4,3, and 2 star reviews.

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Guest

I take them into consideration but well always use my best judgment and instincts.

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Kate

I almost always read reviews, but I take them with a grain of salt.

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Megan

I used to read a lot of reviews for electronics before purchasing, but they are so mixed and I always weigh in the fact that if someone is upset they are way more likely to post a review. I just bought a bed online and had to rely heavily on the reviews and it worked out pretty well! I also have been a big fan of Amazon lately and it's always nice to hear others' opinions and experiences. Because I rely on them, I make an effort to post my own honest reviews - good or bad - to help others.

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suzemagoo

We are pretty vigilant about checking reviews before purchasing but we try to read from as many vetted sources as possible since some websites (especially anonymous consumer reviews) can be, ahem, not exactly credible. While the internet has made access to information vastly easier, discernment is as valuable as ever.

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Gemma

Defined! Consumers reports and internet ratings

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RebeccaM

Yes, I read product reviews if it's available on the website or if the product from the store is over $30.

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lostAnnfound

Yes I do, mostly for big ticket items (appliances, cars, etc.) and also for electronic items because I don't know a lot about them and for that I usually go to CNet.

Guest's picture

Absolutely! I consider it important information when buying anything...everything.

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Gail Luther

Yes, depending on the product but I typically read the reviews in Amazon. I have changed my mind about items based upon the reviews.

Gail Luther

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Leigh

I always read reviews of products that I am not familiar with before buying. I look at Amazon mostly and Cnet for electronics. As Katie M said, you do really have to take them with a grain of salt.

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Angela

I almost always read reviews. I would say that if something is over $20 I definitely look at reviews. Amazon is my go-to spot but I google around to other sites also.

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NJ

Yes, depending on the product I'm buying I'll read a product review. They come in handy especially when I'm searching for a new gadget like a phone, or ipad etc

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Guest

I always read product reviews on big purchases.

Guest's picture

If it's big or if it's an online purchase. Or when it's something funny like the Avery binders full of women on Amazon.

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Lisa

I usually do read the reviews before buying.

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KelR1

I sometimes read reviews before buying. Usually more for big ticket items. I'll just Google the name of the product + reviews and check out a few sites that come up.

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Melissa Hansson

I read reviews, but I realize that a large percentage are written by people who have an axe to grind. And it can be discouraging, because there's always someone who hates a product for some reason.

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Karen L

I do read reviews. I can learn how an apparel item fits or about tech specifics. There are a few trusted sites I check out depending on the category of the item I am researching. For instance, I like CNET reviews for tech items. I keep in mind that people seem more likely to post a negative review than a positive one. Also there seem to be some fake reviews too. But reading reviews can still be helpful.

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Susan D.

I'll always look for reviews on products that I'm interested in but with which I've had little or no experience. For instance, I've been reading reviews of bicycles--I haven't ridden one since I was a kid, and I want to better understand the kinds of things I should look for when I shop for one.

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Emily N

It depends on the item. The less I know about the product the more I'll read that way I make sure I'm buying a quality product rather than buying some clever marketing scheme

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Amy M

I do. i have been burned in the past, especially with big ticket items and online purchases. For really big purchases i will go to the library and look it up in conusmer report.

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Natalie

Yes, I totally read reviews. Usually on whatever website I'm planning on buying from, as well as Amazon. And sometimes I do a general google search too see if any bloggers or other writers have done any reviews.

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Amanda Sakovitz

I always read product reviews! I'm a huge review advocate lol. I dont buy items I've never tried before if the reviews are bad.

Guest's picture
Sue

Yep, pretty much everything, especially if it can be found on Amazon. Also check when buying cars, appliances etc.

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Brenda Faulkner

Yes, but only with big purchases.

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Joan

For big ticket items (large appliances) or electronics, I always read reviews. I work hard for my money and the items I purchase need to last.

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DeeDee

I usually read reviews, it really depends on the item.

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Nicholas

I always read product reviews. I always use various sites to get a good idea and I take the highest and lowest ratings with a grain of salt when making my decisions.

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Happy Love

Definitely, and my favorite place to read and contribute reviews is on Amazon.

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Bethany

Usually I do.

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Thomas Murphy

I most always read product reviews before deciding whether or not to purchase something

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Soni McCarty

I like to read reviews on Amazon and usually Google an item to see what comes up. There have been things I have purchased that got decent reviews but I wasn't happy with the product. The best scenario is a personal recommendation from someone you know or trust combined with great online reviews. Now that usually makes for a great product.

Guest's picture
Roger

Absolutely I read reviews. I'll read them on Amazon, the manufacturer's website, or on any of the many aggregate shopping sites like MySimon and such. The negative reviews are particularly interesting but sometimes are biased or the reviewer is uninformed of the capabilities of the product. I try to find a reviewer, and will even search the reviews to find a review, that has used my exact model or used it in the way I would use it. You have to be careful of reviews that are overly positive or have only just started using the product. I always look to see if the site can choose to not post a review if they don't like it.

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Lisa Under the Redwoods

I always read reviews to try and keep from buying sometthing of lower quality than I need.

Guest's picture
autumfrost

REVIEW PRODUCTS..........OH YES! Let's say I'm looking for a vacuum. 1st. I check my needs, which would include price, vacuum suction and pet hair. 2nd. I'll check with friends and family members on their favorite vacuums. 3rd. I'll check Consumer's reports for the last few years of best vacuums. 4th. Next I do an Internet search on individual Vacuum companies and check out my specifications and ratings from their customers. 5th. With this amount of information I'll now check out Amazon and Ebay to see what their prices are for my top choices and will also produce more opinions from other customers. 6th. I'll check sales ads and watch Ebay and Amazon for a few days to a week and then buy the product that fits my criteria. One more thing, while checking Ebay and Amazon, always check if the sale includes warranty on the product you purchase, how good the ratings are for the seller and don't forget your gut feeling. Then after all that............cross your fingers!

Guest's picture

Absolutely! If we're buying online, there's not a good reason NOT to read the reviews. I've saved myself a lot of trouble, time, and money by paying attention. Now, if we're in the store, we're left to our own decision-making capabilities, which usually comes down to a quality vs. price issue.

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Lynda

yes, for major purchases

Guest's picture

Always, always, always! I think it's important to get some other people's perspectives on a product. You have to make sure that the product review you're reading isn't just something written to sell a product through affiliation, these can be pretty easy to spot sometimes though.

I really like customer reviews, I think that basing your purchasing decision around them can be pretty safe if you take the average. You have to keep in mind that everyone's different and they have different tastes though.

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Juifenchine

Reading product reviews is essential to being a responsible consumer, especially when buying higher-priced items. Seeing a large number of positive reviews does not guarantee I will buy a product. I usually check a sampling of negative reviews to check for unsuspected problems (but I am keenly aware that some people complain about trivial or barely relevant issues). Being a good citizen means giving back to society, so I take the time to leave thoughtful reviews whenever possible.

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Giang Nguyen

I always read reviews before I buy anything, big or small. I'd do a google search for reviews and specifically check amazon reviews.

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Miranda

I always read reviews, usually on Amazon. I think it's important to see real consumers' experiences with the product--often when I need to buy something, I'll type it into Amazon, filter by highest ratings, pick the top-rated options and read their features and reviews, and then narrow it down to a few products that have both a large percentage of positive reviews and all the features I want. I then choose one of those products to buy.

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Guest

yes if they're available. I'm pretty nervous to buy a product with no reviews

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Andrea

I ALWAYS read reviews. You can't always trust the reviews with folks out there getting paid to post comments, but I think that they help with the decision making process.

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Alexis Boudreau

Yes--I read reviews so often that sometimes it cripples me! I'm getting married and i'm trying to make sure our registry includes quality products. When we register in-store, I pop online afterward and check out what other people have to say. A two-star rating can send me spiraling into an hour of comparing coffee pots.

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Ravzie

I take them with a grain of salt. If reviews are mostly all good or mostly all bad, I think that might be the case. But different people have different expectations, so it's hard to know sometimes. Just the other day, I was looking at the reviews for a toaster. One person gave this model only 1 star because it DIDN'T FIT in his appliance garage....

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rosemary crawshaw

I read reviews for almost everything,and they do influence my purchases,and am sure that saved me money. I have been shopping around for a tub surround and still not satisfied with reviews on most of them ,may do ceramic

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nilima

I always read review before purchase any item. special when give 2 star and 3 star, then read very cautiously.

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Jamie

Always! I like to let other people find the hang-ups on something before I spend money on it. If you can't sidestep a 'con' of a buy, at least you can get an idea of what to expect.

Guest's picture

Ever since buying my first place, Consumer Reports and reviews online have changed the way I shop completely. Websites like Yelp give real opinions of businesses and restaurants so you don't always have to risk a bad experience blind. I can't remember the last semi-major purchase we made without researching it first.

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Ivan Körmendi

I always do, mainly on dx.com or amazon.com, to feel more confident.

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Stefanie

Yes! I like to read a lot of product reviews for a variety of brands and versions of a product i might by. I think research is really important so I know I am spending my money well.

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Andrew

I usually use Amazon reviews for most of my purchases. If its more of a tech gadget I look around the web or use Cnet also. If its a big appliance or car I go ask my parents and usually they have a consumer report issue around.

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Marcie Lynn Florance

I read the good bad and ugly reviews, and I still form my own opinion. I still want to see the pos. and neg. comments -- it helps me with a more informed decision.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I try to always read reviews on most of the things I buy.

Guest's picture

Yes, I always read product reviews before purchasing. So thankful that others do provide their input!

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MamaAnne

I am a reviewaholic. I go to Amazon, Google it, consumer report, trip advisor, and read all of the reviews - good and bad. Sometimes people give a poor review for such petty things, I try to get a balanced review on what I am buying.

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K

I always read reviews before buying online - and sometimes before buying in person, too. Especially for high-dollar and non-returnable items.

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Prathee chandar

I read reviews for almost all the products I buy. I mostly check Amazon, google reviews, go and look at the product in best buy or target or any other retail store (if they're costly).

If it's a service like restaurants, then I check yelp and google.

Guest's picture
Steph

ALWAYS! I try not to buy anything without consulting the reviews first. This has saved me a TON of money as I often think a product LOOKS great, until I read the negative reviews and it turns out that it something I do no want at all, saving me the time of finding out for myself that I wasted my money. I LIVE by customer reviews now, especially when purchasing big ticket items!

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Elaina L

I always read the reviews before I buy anything. I will not purchase something if there are no reviews. I think if noone commented it isn't worth buying

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Guest

For any major purchase, I refer to reviews in Consumer Reports magazine and also will Google for other reviews online. It's easy to get a fix on reliable products now. I never rely on what advertisers say about their products. It's all hype.

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Mario

Of course I do. I've gotten most comfortable with Amazon because they sell such a wide array of stuff that I can generally find a review on nearly anything. However, I'll also find other stores that sell the same item. Doing this also has the two great side benefits of sometimes letting me find a lower price or a less expensive alternative. It may also convince me that I don't need the thing in question, after all :)

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Diane

Absolutely! That's one of the reasons I love Amazon! For electronics I also read ratings on c-net.

Guest's picture

i do read reviews before buying - usually on amazon.com, cnet.com or another review site.

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Liss Alex

I always read the reviews if at all possible! Some poor reviews are based on personal preference or even poor shipping, return policies, or customer service! Either way, you learn more about what you'll be receiving. We vote with our dollars, and more information = a more informed vote!

Guest's picture
Jessica

Not reading reviews is ignorant. Say for example you want a new camera- well digital cameras are improving year after year with newer and newer features- however, are all those features really necessary for your usage? Reading reviews can help you think about what your requirements are and then when you go to stores and try the camera out you won't be pressed by salesmen who just want to sell a product. This goes not just for big ticket items but also for things like all-purpose gluten free flower or face masks- who really has the money to try these things?

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Jessica

I read the reviews for any item that I am purchasing online and I cannot scope out in a store beforehand.
I also read the reviews for any electronic item or kitchen gadget over $50.
Not only does this protect me from buying a dud product, it deters me from purchasing things I don't need.