let’s backtrack…get an opinion

Came across a blog TripAdvisor Watch: Hotel Reviews in Focus after I published my previous post “get an opinion…”. Since then I’ve encountered another site, Wallet Pop, whose post I read, “Is TripAdvisor.com one big joke?” Both had me rethinking my referral of TripAdvisor as the greatest pastime with a purpose, since the invention of hula hoops…which was suppose to decrease the size of my hips. Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, I never realized, in my naivete, that scammers would derail a system wherein people could share experiences so that others might avoid making the same mistakes, or get the best value for their money. It seems TripAdvisor is rife with competitors, or vengeful customers, faking reviews for their own benefit, whether to garner an increase in traffic, or deter bookings, or a combination of both.

Old postcards and a magnifying glass.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a few months since I’ve needed to use TripAdvisor. From here on out I’ll probably be dissecting their reviews with a scalpel and magnifying glass. But truth be told, I’m so anal about details that I already check to make sure all the “i’s” are dotted, and “t’s” are crossed. I recommend you do the same. Be thorough in your research, trust your gut instinct and common sense, confirm with other sources…like Rick Steves, and don’t hesitate to change your mind, and your plans, should something better happen along.

 

Group of American tourists encounter Rick Stev...

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Blest with a vivid imagination, I can picture myself trying to turn around in a typical, small European hotel shower. Or I can see myself annoyed with the comings and goings of people getting on and off the elevator, if my room is adjacent to one. A sucker for hospitality, I like to bask in the warmth of a friendly, accommodating reception staff. 

 

Perusing the reviews, it’s as though I’d traveled with the writer. After painstakingly researching my topic of interest, I feel comfortable with my final decisions. All I can do is make the best educated guess with the facts at hand. Things may not always turn out as expected, but I don’t wallow in regrets, knowing I did as much as I could.

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Evidently Yelp has also come under fire for manipulated reviews. All I can say is…proceed with caution. But don’t let a few bad apples ruin the good intentions of most reviewers. Rotten fruit turn up everywhere in life; that doesn’t stop us from living.

 

TripAdvisor Watch: Hotel Reviews in Focus indicated that Google is beginning to relegate TripAdvisor and Yelp to the bottom of their search engine heap. That’s because the internet giant is launching its own review community. Whether for personal gain or because of the bad press TripAdvisor has garnered, or both, Google has seen fit to attempt to beat TA at its own game. Hopefully, we Lilliputians will be the beneficiaries, and not the pawns in some elaborate game of chess.

Wallet Pop offers some sound advice when utilizing review sites, like TripAdvisor. As I scrolled through WP, I noticed it too offers articles meant to guide consumers through the maze of products and services available for purchase. Of course the question that immediately came to mind was “How reliable is Wallet Pop? Does it have an axe to grind, or a pocket to pad, or line, or whatever the saying is?

…wow!……..who can you trust these days?…trust me…you can trust me  …….hugmamma.            

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get an opinion…

dripping faucet

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James from Zes Bro Plumbing fixed a trio of seemingly small issues today. Water leaked from the shut-off valve of the toilet in our main floor bathroom. The tap in our master bath had been slow-dripping water for some time now. And the outdoor spiget alongside the house was missing a piece which connected to a hose. I’m thinking the construction crew that remodeled our kitchen/dining room a few years ago might have removed it when they were contracted to also build steps leading down the adjacent slope.

James, the plumber, did an outstanding job, informing me of the structural issues and what he planned to do to repair the problems. If there were options based upon price, he would tell me what they were and allow me to decide between them. Because we’ll be remodeling the master bath next year, and to some extent the main bath, I went with the cheaper solutions. James agreed with my decisions.

In order to repair the outdoor water faucet, James had to run to the hardware store for a part. He indicated he would be gone 25 minutes, and he was true to his word. Several minutes later, he had completed all designated tasks. Plumbers aren’t cheap, but I thought his charge for parts and labor of $291 for 3 hours work was fair. My husband agreed. It wasn’t the nightmare that others have complained about when repairmen have greedily charged exhorbitant rates. And when they’ve got you “over a barrel,” what can you do but pay up, or go 9 rounds in a confrontational match.

Image representing TripAdvisor as depicted in ...

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Whenever I require something, from a hotel to a repair person to a furniture mover, I troll the internet looking for reviews. When we’ve traveled to another state or to Europe, I have spent many a day and night winding my way through TripAdvisor.com. Reading others’ reviews of hotels, scenic sights, and restaurants, saved me the aggravation and expense of buying into something I might regret. Of course no two people are exactly the same in their likes and dislikes, but most people want pretty much the same when it comes to basics. It’s usually the extras where we might differ. Give me clean, good value, good attitude. Helpful, friendly, charming, quality are the added perks for which I’ll pay a little extra. TripAdvisor lets me decide where I’ll spend my money.

yelp inc magazine

Image by calmenda via Flickr

Yelp is another internet tool that offers the opinions of real consumers, like you and me. And unlike Angie’s List, Yelp is free. That’s where I searched for a review on a plumber I had thought of using. The company had a coupon in the monthly ValPak envelope I get in the mail. I’m glad I turned to Yelp, before calling Southwest Plumbing. Of the several complaints, the main ones were that the workers often arrived late for the job, and the prices quoted were excessive. One was for $1,345! And the homeowner sounded unprepared for that figure, whatever it was he was having done.

Better Business Bureau logo.

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It’s highly doubtful that I would hire someone “blind,” or travel somewhere without first doing extensive research. I can always count on TripAdvisor and Yelp to assist, any time of the day or night. They’re on-call, 24/7. And if they don’t have what I need, I just google what it is I’m looking for, or look on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Their info is not as great as the first-hand reviews available from TripAdvisor and Yelp, but anything is better than nothing.

 feel better knowing someone’s been down that road………before me  ………….hugmamma.