Friday, May 22, 2015

Your Future . . . in the Stars

Throughout history there have been a group of people who believe that the stars and planets could predict their future, (although with Pluto gone I would question the accuracy). However, the stars that I’m referring to are not in the sky, even on a Starry Night. These are the stars presented to you on your internet search engines when you’re seeking feedback on stores, designers, contractors, or just about anything or anybody.
These new stars, albeit smaller, are almost as important as the older ones that you see up above, on a clear summer’s night. But unlike the astronomical bodies, the internet stars must be interpreted for their accuracy, because they are subject to manipulation by unscrupulous star gazers.
I’ve found that houzz and Angie’s List seem to have the most reliable feedback, and interestingly, for two completely different reasons. All comments submitted to houzz are carefully checked for accuracy by their Review Department, prior to publishing the remarks. They confirm that the submissions actually relate to real projects at the appropriate location, and that the IP address of the submitter (your location in the clouds) is accurate and authentic, as well.
Angie’s List is different from most review sites in that you have to pay to be a member, which makes it an expensive proposition to post a multitude of fictitious reviews. The posted reviews are coming from people who are willing to pay to view legitimate evaluations posted by others who have made their own financial commitment. This gives them a high degree of authenticity.
Other sites will accept reviews from anyone with limited or no vetting. One site, (that rhymes with Help) claims that they have a computer algorithm that determines if a review is legitimate or fabricated. This site has been brought to court many times by companies claiming that when they refused to advertise on the site, their good reviews disappeared. The management claims that the algorithm made the decision to delete those reviews and they do not have the ability or inclination to question the decision. However, it seems, when money changes hands, reviews reappear.
Google Reviews can be very helpful but must be evaluated carefully. Anyone who creates a gmail account can post a review on Google. Although I’m sure that most of the evaluations on Google are legitimate, anyone who is determined, can create ten or twenty new gmail accounts at no cost and post to their hearts content. Who would do such a thing? Perhaps a devious, corrupt vendor, who has many low-star reviews to boost up.
And let’s not forget the good old Better Business Bureau. I always thought that they were above reproach, until I received a phone call and was told that they have only heard good things about my company and have decided to invite me to become part of their auspicious community. I was so moved, as I had always held them in high regard, that I said I’d be proud to be part of such an organization. Until I was informed that I had to pay them $600 a year, and in return they would indicate I met their “accreditation standards”. I said, “No thanks”.
So like everything else in this world, it’s best to use your common sense when evaluating the stars. Just as Nick Copernicus did when he mapped out the stars above, you need to evaluate the sources of your information when checking out the stars below. If your future has you Swinging on a Star* and making your choice by internet feedback, remember, the more legitimate stars, the merrier.

*Crosby, Bing. “Swinging on a Star”. Composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke. Best Original Song Oscar. Going My Way, 1944.