The Internet has been likened to the new back fence, where neighbors share information.

Information for Consumers

Rating and review sites can be a powerful tool for consumers when choosing products or services, but they can also provide misinformation if they are not used carefully.

Using Ratings

Whether you are considering a major purchase, choosing a hotel or restaurant, or looking for local services, there are review sites that can help. You may already know about some review sites. Check the RARPA Review Sites page to find sites operated by our members. These sites are committed to providing a fair and open forum for consumer reviews.

You can find others by using your favorite search engine, and searching for sites with the type of review you need. For example, try searching for restaurant ratings or child care reviews. These searches will show you the top national sites. You may also find local review sites by including your location in the search; for example, try dallas doctor ratings.

Try to read as many reviews as possible... a single review provides just one point of view, but many reviews together give a good overall picture. Don't rely on reviews as your only source of information, especially for major decisions like choosing a doctor!

Read the reviews carefully. If you see all perfect scores (or all terrible scores), and similar wording in the reviews, it's possible that they were written by the same person.

Sharing Ratings

You can help other consumers by sharing ratings for businesses and services you have used.

Check the RARPA Review Sites page, or use a search engine to find an appropriate rating site.

If the site allows you to rate several attributes (such as service, facilities, and price), try to evaluate each attribute independently. Most businesses have some good qualities and some poor; giving all top or all low scores doesn't help other consumers find the best choices.

In your written comments:

  1. Be honest and factual
  2. Describe specific examples, instead of general comments. For example:

    "The waiter mixed up our order. We had to ask three times for water, and our check arrived 20 minutes after our plates were cleared."

    provides much more information than:

    "Service was awful!"
  3. Don’t try to "flood" a rating site with phony reviews. Many sites use algorithms to detect the source of ratings, and may even block users who try to cheat.
  4. Check the site rules to find out what is permitted. Common rules on many sites include:
    • No personal identifying information, e-mail addresses or phone numbers in your reviews.
    • No use of racial, sexual, religious or other derogatory or discriminatory terms.
    • No explicit sexual content.
    • No content that infringes on copyrights (in other words, don't copy your review from another source)

Legal Liability

Users frequently ask if they can be sued for things they post on rating and review sites. The simple answer is yes... someone can file a lawsuit against you, with or without solid grounds. However, unless they have a very strong case, or a lot of money to spend, it's unlikely they will find a lawyer to take their case.

Here are a few things to remember:

The Rating and Review Professional Association follows news of lawsuits in this area. We are aware of only a handful of cases that have actually come to trial, and in general those cases involved special circumstances that would not apply to typical consumer reviews of businesses and services.