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GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake?

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GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake? [#permalink]

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New post 03 Dec 2015, 22:54
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GMAT Club Reviews - Are they Real or Fake?


GMAT Club provides an independent review service for a number of products - ranging from Courses, Admissions Consulting services and all the way to Business School reviews. We ensure that the reviews submitted are submitted by 1) Real customers and 2) Real people. GMAT Club reviews are designed to give a protected environment for users to review products where they feel safe and protected and where providers have no ability to remove or alter submitted reviews. At this time there are over 4,000 reviews in the database and the number of reviews is growing faster and faster each month.

How are the "Verified" Reviews Verified?

  • The first step we take is verifying that the reviewer has actually used a company services. We do not allow service providers to read the review or preview it's rating (that would be silly) but we do check the email address of the submitted review against the database of customers of each company. The reason we do this is so that the owner of the product would have no way to back out of the review and claim that it is slanderous and by a competing party. Alternatively if we have a hard time locating the reviewer in the database we may ask for the receipt or something that would suffice as a proof of purchase (e.g. a credit card charge on the statement).
  • Step 2 is actually to verify the reviewer's identity and we use several methods at this time (though we continue to evolve them to ensure they are hard to break). Here is what we currently use:
    • Score Report verification (reviewer has to provide a link to the official score report and their DOB for us to download their score report). This allows us to create a unique identity record using their score report, thus making it impossible to use the same score report for other reviews. It is a one to one relationship.
    • Membership - users who have been members of the GMAT Club for over 2 years are considered to be trustworthy and real members and thus we allow their reviews to be posted. The user has to have been a member for 2 years or longer at the time of submitting the review, not at the time of you reading the review :-)
    • Post Count - users who have over 35 posts are also considered trustworthy and we accept their reviews as verified (we may change this rule if we notice any irregularity). We figured if anyone wanted to inflate their review counts it would take some work to make the posts and would take some time to invest into this.
    • School e-mail address - this is currently used to verify Business School and Admissions Consulting reviews only. However, since .edu email addresses are impossible to fake or register without being a student, we consider this option fairly reliable in establishing credibility of a reviewer
  • There are additional steps we take in ensuring that the reviews are genuine such as reviewing each review, checking background of users, and submissions on a regular basis to detect any anomalies. It is in our best interest that the review system is solid and not compromised by anyone or does not even have an impression of being capable of being compromised. There is a funny post about that here.


Are All Reviews Verified?

Actually no. In the past we used to accept both verified and not verified reviews (we compensated for submitting verified reviews with a $20 Amazon giftcard; we did not compensate for submitting non-verified reviews). However, we changed our policy for GMAT Course and Admissions Consulting reviews to accept ONLY verified reviews. There are still some types of reviews we do not verify, such as Test Center Reviews and a few others. However, you can distinguish the verified review easily as it is highlighted by the orange band, such as this one:
Image
As you can see, it indicates that the review has been verified by an authentic score report.
Image
Image


Are non-verified reviews fake?

I doubt it. I strongly doubt that any of the GMAT Club partners would waste their time falsifying the reviews and trying to fake their reputation; however, speculating about this part is probably useless and instead, I would suggest that you rely as much as possible on the Verified portion of reviews. As to why people submit un-verified reviews - it is pretty simple. Admissions consultants and course providers often reach out to their customers (more than once sometimes) to provide reviews about their experience and often folks feel obliged enough to submit a review but don't feel like verifying it (since they probably did not put much effort into it to start with). In some cases privacy is an issue and people create brand new accounts to post a review.


Have you ever Audited Reviews?

As a matter of fact we have. We have gone through a number of extra steps to audit as many as 80 reviews this year and requested proof of identities, payments, and doing business with the provider. They ended up being genuine even though we have had a lot of suspicions about the reviews in question being otherwise.


We recommend that you only rely on the verified reviews in whatever decisions you make.

If you have any suggestions or questions about the Reviews or our verification process I encourage you to post them here or contact us privately if you have any personal issues. We are committed to keeping these reviews real as that is our reputation and the value of the entire review system. We have spent quite a bit of money on giftcards for verified reviews. We don't want that wasted :-) Meanwhile we continue to improve and upgrade the review system and accessibility of reviews making it in line with the best standards of industry-leading "reviews" sites.
Thank you


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Re: GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2015, 00:27
Very prudent steps so that students especially beginners are not mislead. Kudos BB!
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GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake? [#permalink]

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New post 24 Apr 2017, 18:51
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Of course some of the reviews are fake. There is too much money in the field of GMAT prep for there not to be some dishonest actors. More generally speaking, we human beings have a tendency to be dishonest. Combine that with the anonymity of the online experience, and you get a ton of misinformation.

I would also venture that most of the reviews are real, but a lot of the reviews do seem awfully suspicious, like they were written by the companies themselves. That's why I ask my students to review my services on Yelp--verified reviews are Yelp's specialty. In fact, Yelp goes further than that, since I've had a ton of actual student reviews filtered by the system!

Of course, even on Yelp there are fake positive reviews, as well as fake negative reviews written by envious competitors. It's a rough world out there.

I would say that GMATClub's / Google's policy is "when it doubt, post the review" and Yelp's policy is "when in doubt, filter the review." That doesn't mean that one approach is necessarily better than the other. I do like the freedom of an open forum such as GMATClub, where very little is censored and all voices are allowed to be heard, but we must always remember to think critically about people's motivations, and to understand that you can't always trust what you read on the internet. :wink:
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Re: GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake? [#permalink]

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New post 24 Apr 2017, 19:26
mcelroytutoring wrote:
Of course some of the reviews are fake. There is too much money in the field of GMAT prep for there not to be some dishonest actors. More generally speaking, we human beings have a tendency to be dishonest. Combine that with the anonymity of the online experience, and you get a ton of misinformation.

I would also venture that most of the reviews are real, but a lot of the reviews do seem awfully suspicious, like they were written by the companies themselves. That's why I ask my students to review my services on Yelp--verified reviews are Yelp's specialty. In fact, Yelp goes further than that, since I've had a ton of actual student reviews filtered by the system!

Of course, even on Yelp there are fake positive reviews, as well as fake negative reviews written by envious competitors. It's a rough world out there.

I would say that GMATClub's / Google's policy is "when it doubt, post the review" and Yelp's policy is "when in doubt, filter the review." That doesn't mean that one approach is necessarily better than the other. I do like the freedom of an open forum such as GMATClub, where very little is censored and all voices are allowed to be heard, but we must always remember to think critically about people's motivations, and to understand that you can't always trust what you read on the internet. :wink:



The main question I have is - what prompted you to post this? Saying that chances are, some reviews are fake is equivalent of saying chances are there are aliens in the universe and we should all wear tin foil hats. As to the bragging you do on Yelp, they have some shady practices and the fact that you are not even aware of them, throws even more doubt on the purpose of your post.

P.S. While there are no absolutes, it is much easier and cheaper to fake a review on Yelp than on GMAT Club.
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Re: GMAT Club Review Verification - Are they Fake?   [#permalink] 24 Apr 2017, 19:26
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