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Reviews On Major Platforms

Most reviews that you find online are probably cherry-picked and fake.

Reviews On Major Platforms - Most reviews that you find online are probably cherry-picked and fake.


Public reviews are an essential part of gaining consumer trust in any company's goods and services. Most businesses understand that pretty well ... and also quite often abuse it.

For the last few years I've been actively watching online review systems for most of the major online players. I've been using their products and services and was participating in their review process. As a result, unfortunately for most consumers, I cannot say that a single review system is honest and unbiased.

I understand that creating a review system that perfectly reflects consumer sentiment and is also untainted by fake reviews and online trolls is quite difficult. But I think it's worth a try. Matter of fact, I've written a blog post on that subject.

Below are the observations from my personal experience.

Bad Reviews Are Turned Down or Difficult to Post

I've noticed that the following services highly prioritize good or positive reviews and turn down or discourage negative ones. Such policy is obviously beneficial for their bottom lines as any service with a large number of bad reviews will discourage users.

For the users though such practice may lead to a lot of disappointment and inability to stand-up against a bad product or an unfair treatment. Unfortunately, there's not much that we can do about it ... other than just to publicly shame the businesses that engage in such practices.

The one of the worst in this case is We've been using their services for quite some time now, primarily for booking hotels during our travels. Most of my positive reviews that I left on their platform were accepted in no time.

On one occasion though, we had quite a bad experience with a resort in Zanzibar, which I reflected in my review. Note that I was not using any name-calling, profane or defamatory language. I just explained what went down and why we were disappointed.

It was a resort, and as a proof of how dirty the place was, I made a picture of a fly that landed on my beer bottle. That place was literally infested with lots of flies and was quite disgusting during any type of a meal or even at a pool:

Picture with flies
The actual picture that I posted.

As a result, the edited my review and removed the picture with the fly.

Since then I will never trust any reviews on that platform.


Like anyone else in the US it is virtually impossible to avoid Thus I purchased quite a lot off of their website. And even though I should definitely admit that their customer service is one of the best in the market, they are still trying to do anything possible to prevent negative reviews on their platform.

At some point in the past I purchased a receipt printer on Amazon, and everything that can go wrong did go wrong with it. First off, the shipment took forever and when I received it, the software driver for Windows was not code-signed and resulted in all sorts of warnings. Moreover, when I checked the seller's page, there was nowhere on it that it said that the product was shipped from China.

So I wrote a review and described it as "a cheap Chinese knockoff of the actual printer. Do not buy!" It was my honest review because I made a mistake to buy it, having gone for a low price at a cost of getting a knockoff that I can't use. I further spent my time to give the reasons why I didn't like it, pretty much like I did here.

There's no way I would've installed that unsigned Chinese driver on my PC. So that printer was useless to me.

As a result Amazon refused to post my review, labeling it as a "hate speech".

There are also other cases when they refused to post my negative reviews to the point that I stopped trying to write any reviews.

My go-to approach with Amazon is to look up a product there, but then to go to a website of the manufacturer and to buy it from them. It is indeed more expensive, but at least you know that you're not getting a knockoff.

Google Maps / Holafly

I am a prolific user of Google Maps. I rely on it heavily and try to give back to the community. I equally review good and bad services. I would say that I have left more good reviews than bad ones.

I was also treating Google Maps as the last bastion of a true customer voice. But, it seems like I was wrong.

We recently came from a trip where I tried an eSIM service (called Holafly) and had quite a bad experience with it. We learned a lot from it and I was trying to let others know in my Google Maps review.

Here's the review that I left on Google Maps. I gave it 2-out-of-5 stars:

We used it 2-3 times during our travels.

TL;DR - It's not worth it!

Here's pros and cons:


- It's an eSIM, meaning that you don't need to put any physical card into your phone. (BUT your phone must support eSIMs. Usually newer high-end phones do.)

- You can purchase it in your original country, so it eliminates the worry of having internet after you leave the airport at the destination country. (PROVIDED that it works! Read the cons.)

- Relatively easy to buy. After an online payment you get an email with the QR code.

- If your phone does not have dual SIMs and you need to keep your existing SIM. (For instance, if you're using Google Voice.)


- Really overpriced. If you can get without an internet from the airport to your hotel/AirBnb, you'd be much better off buying a local SIM in town. (DO NOT buy it at the airport, as those are quite pricey too.) Instead, search YouTube and see what locals recommend. For instance, if you're going to Madrid, search "Madrid SIM cards". In that case we could buy a physical SIM card from Orange for 20 Euros for 200 GB data for 1 month. While I paid $44.65 to Holafly for a 15 day data card. (Btw, their unlimited plan has an asterisk that it is throttled after you reach a data cap, so it will be very slow.)

- Really, really difficult to set up! I have an iPhone 13, so maybe it's different for an Android. Here's my experience. I purchased their eSIM at home, and then when we arrived to Madrid I tried to set it up while still having an airport wifi. First off, to activate it you need to scan a QR code that they send to you. But how are you going to do it, if their QR code is on that same phone? 🤦‍♂️ I was able to make a screenshot and emailed it to my laptop and scanned it from there. (But what if you don't have a second device.) Then there are some very convoluted steps to follow to set it up. 5-6 screens, with very technical questions. As a result it said that it was all set up, but the internet did not work. I tried to redo the process but the screen told me that I already activated the card. I then had to go into the depth of the iOS settings to try to make it work. I finally gave up and we had to take a taxi to our hotel. (Our original plan was to get an Uber if I had a connection.) Then at the hotel I was able to make it work after googling for half an hour and toggling all settings until it connected. As a result - the benefit of having internet right when you land was canceled. So there was really no need for me to buy this overpriced card for a lousy service.

- Lastly connection wasn't that great. We were at Madrid, and in some downtown areas (indoors) I hardly had any connection, when my gf had it with her Orange SIM.

- If you are going to some third-world country, Holafly will sell you their eSIM but it will barely work. For instance, I tried it in Zanzibar (Tanzania) and it had some very lousy 3G service that we never used.

- Oh, and after I installed their eSIM into my iPhone, my iMessage and AirDrop stopped working and no matter what I tried I couldn't fix it. (Until I deleted their eSIM when I came back home.)
- My Review of Holafly

I also attached the following screenshot from Holafly:

Holafly setup instructions
Holafly setup instructions.

I then received an email from Google with the message: "Your review isn't posted", with the following reason:

Content that violates our policy on content that is off-topic, offensive, obscene or profane, or hate speech isn't allowed.

OK, I guess my review was all that.

Unsurprisingly the Holafly has a flying 4.8-star rating on Google Maps.

Suffice it to say that I will no longer spend my time posting reviews on that platform. What is the point anyway? To give a lot of praises and then to suppress all negative feedback.


And speaking of Google, and their YouTube platform. I am sure I am not the only one who noticed their removal of downvotes, or thumbs-down button on their videos. And of course they must have been going for an all-inclusive audience, and such an action may have thwarted some rogue bullies. But I can't emphasize enough that it also inconvenienced their regular users. I am one of them.

Again I have to refer to my earlier blog post on the subject of thwarting online trolls that does not involve removal of the downvote button.

For me personally seeing a video with a lot of downvotes immediately meant that the content was not worth my time. It was a time saver than anything else. Now, without the downvote stats I have to sit through the content not knowing if it's good or bad. And of course, in despite of their claims, this is what Google wants.

People Are Inconvenienced to Leave Bad Reviews

The following services make it very difficult to leave anything but a good review. The question in that case becomes, what is the point of such reviews?


The absolute worst in this case is Uber. When you complete a ride, you usually close the Uber app, and won't open it again until you need another ride. At that point their app pops up an overlay asking to rate a previous driver:

Uber overlay
Uber overlay asking to rate a previous driver.

And then if you give that driver anything but the top 5-star rating, the Uber displays another overlay:

Uber overlay
Next overlay from Uber asking for more rating.

The obvious silliness of the Uber developers, or whoever came up with that UI, is that most users are not willing to go through multiple screens reviewing a previous driver when they may be in a rush to book another ride.

So unsurprisingly, because of the bad UI choice, most users of the Uber app simply click on the 5-star rating to make the modal overlay go away so that they can book another ride.

This obviously makes Uber reviews more than useless.


Another slightly lesser offended is the Airbnb. When a user attempts to leave a review of the host (I am not entirely sure if the same is true when hosts review guests) the review box is limited to 1000 characters.

This seems like a lot, but that is not enough to explain yourself and leave a meaningful review, especially if something went wrong. Thus most users end up leaving a one-line rating, which is close to useless to others.

Some might argue that by limiting the size of a review box Airbnb keeps the platform neat and well organized. Well, I will politely disagree.

If they didn't want to display full lengthy reviews they could've folded it down to just first 4-5 lines, pretty much like YouTube does with their video comments. And if the user is interested in reading the whole thing they can easily open it up with a mouse click.

Such usually happens when a service thinks that their "brilliant" design will outsmart everyone. It worked for Steve Jobs, but I doubt that it was a good solution in a long run.

Blog Posts & Private Review Sites Are Most Often Fake

Quite often we may come across a website that purports to review this or that product, or service. The most prolific ones are "Ten best fill-in-the-blanks". You often get those from a search engine.

But how truthful are those reviewers? Who stops them from collecting a payment from the company that they seem to praise in their review?

There's obviously no guarantee that such private websites and blogs are honest.

The best example is the aforementioned Holafly. If you search "airalo vs holafly", one of the links on top that comes up is this one:

Holafly vs Airalo
Fake blog post: "Holafly vs Airalo: Which eSIM is better?"

Without even opening that page (hosted by, can you bet your money on which service that blog post rates as the best one? 😂

In my case, I get countless emails with offers to include someone else's article, or review a product on my website. I also get some offers to include ads in my public software; or even worse, to use some third-party installers that install some grey-zone junk besides my app.

I don't even reply to such offers. As you can probably notice, this website does not contain any ads. And I am planning to keep it that way.

In case I include a paid promotion in my blog listing in the future, such will be clearly marked with a "Paid promotion" banner.

In general though, if you want to verify the claims made in the top-ten-best-blah-blah blog post, check the second, or the third links on the same subject. If the results in them kinda match, then the author is probably truthful. If they deviate wildly ... well, you get the picture.


Having said all this, an astute reader would ask me, "So where are we supposed to get honest reviews?"

Well, the answer is not easy. You can obviously still rely on some services that you trust. Also your previous experiences should outshine most reviews that you may read online. Additionally, I would trust word-of-mouth references from people you know.

Otherwise, reviews is a painful subject for everyone. And most companies, sadly, don't do a good job to address it.

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