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Buying online? Search for the NEGATIVE reviews

It has come to light that unscrupulous corporations (is there another kind?) are paying ‘bloggers’ to post positive reviews about their products and services to sway buyers their way.

That way, when you Google ‘FancyShmancy Tablet review’, you’ll find plenty of good stuff confirming why you should rush out and buy one.

But that’s no good, now is it? Especially since a lot of these ‘reviewers’ have never seen the product or service, let alone used it. Some even do video spots, raving on about how wonderful ‘FancySchmancy Tablet’ is.

Now, do we all fall for the latest ‘Ab System Pro 5000’ (that totally made-up-on-the-spot name has a surprising number of hits) advertised on the infomercial channel? One jolly well hopes not. And why don’t (some) of us buy the story put forward by gorgeously tanned, lithe girls? You know, the breathless exhortations about how easy the ‘Ab System Pro 5000’ is to use, how it makes exercise fun, eliminates fat, instantly renders you irresistible to the opposite sex and ends world hunger?

Because we know they are paid shills.

The internet is a lot more useful than broadcast infomericals, because it contains an enormous range of opinions. You just need to know how to look for them.

Avoid the confirmation bias, which tends to have us looking for the good stuff in a product we’re already interested in. Instead, look for all the bad stuff you can turn up; instead of Googling ‘iPhone 5 review’, Google ‘iPhone 5 problems’. Instead of ‘iOS 6 most advanced’, try ‘iOS 6 sucks’. Instead of ‘Android ICE’, try ‘Android ICE fail’. You get the idea.

By looking for the critical reviews – the ones where real people have had a good old sook about the device for which they paid real money - you can find out with far more accuracy what the niggles and annoyances are.

Nothing should ever be universally good to everyone, it is a virtual impossibility; instead, try to establish what might and what might not work for you.