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Guest Blogger

Clare Gilham, Head of Marketing, Feefo

The World Cup kicks off in Russia on June 14th, and with an estimated £2.5 billion set to be spent across the UK if England make it through to the final (don’t laugh), you need to make sure that you don’t score an own goal when it comes to parting with your hard-earned cash.

The run up to this year’s competition has been full of fake reviews appearing on popular travel sites, with businesses from Macclesfield to Moscow looking to get a piece of the pie by any means necessary.

But how do you spot a fake review?

According to research by Cornell University we can only spot fake reviews 50% of the time, which means we have about as much chance of getting it right as England do of winning a penalty shootout (and we all know how often that happens). Despite this there are some tell-tale signs that we can look out for to help sort the fact from the fiction, and safely navigate our way through the World Cup.

Getting your kit on

Before you go anywhere this summer, you need to look the part. As ever England launched a brand-new home and away kit prior to this year’s tournament, and even if they are a little pricey, they have been selling like hot cakes.

So that you’re not left disappointed before the World Cup has even begun, be sure to check customer reviews to find out who’s competing best on price and delivery time. By using companies that only publish real reviews, you can be confident in making a purchase, and safe in the knowledge that it will arrive in time for kick off, and that you haven’t paid over the odds.

The warm up

Now that you’re kitted up, you need to warm up before the big game. Thankfully when it comes to the World Cup, warming up usually means tucking into some delicious pre-game grub, rather than a series of painful stretches. But keep your eyes peeled, and be sure to check the dates of the reviews!

Have your local restaurants suddenly been inundated with positive reviews in the weeks leading up to the World Cup? Well, if so, then be very wary, as it’s likely that these have been written to intentionally boost their reputation and maximise business during the busy World Cup period. Make sure to check through reviews, dating back at least six months, to get a better overall picture of the business. Any that fail to have a history of reviews, look out of place, or have multiple entries on one date but be a tell-tell sign that something isn’t what it seems.

Match Day

Pubs up and down the land will be bursting at the seams come June 19th when England kick off their campaign against the mighty Tunisia. You may well have your favourite drinking holes, but the chances are you’re going to need to find somewhere new to watch the games.

You head online to find somewhere that shows the match, has a great atmosphere and affordable prices! Low and behold you stumble across a host of establishments you’ve never heard of, all with a string of five-star reviews. If something is too good to be true, however, then it probably is (Lionel Messi is the only exception to this rule). Five-stars across the board and a constant stream of glowing praise may look good on the surface, but nobody is perfect. If you can’t spot any negative reviews then you have your first red flag that the business maybe censoring, or even removing, bad reviews in order to boost their ratings.

Post-match consolation

With England sure to be crashing out early, as a nation we’ll need somewhere to go to console ourselves and forget about football for the rest of the summer. Where better than the internet to forget about your troubles and do a spot of online shopping. In fact, we think we’ll buy that rugby ball we’ve always wanted (we always preferred rugby anyway).

If you do find yourself drowning your sorrows in a spate of online retail therapy, make sure what you’re buying doesn’t leave you even more disappointed..

If you find that the reviews are choc-full of emotional admiration, or lacking detail or specifics about a product, these are both common giveaways that the reviews have been written by people who have never used, or even bought the item in question. If you’re worried that a review might be bogus, look out for signs of verification such as a tick or an ‘approved’ badge next to the reviewer’s name. Alternatively, do some research into the reviews platform a business is using to see if they do their own due diligence on the types of people they allow to leave reviews.

Tackling Fake Feedback

The last thing you should be aware of is that some review systems are open-loop, which means they let anyone leave feedback. Think Scotland fan giving their definitive opinion on the England kit. However, some are by invitation only, and ensure real reviews are being left by real customers. With some research, you’ll be able to tell which review platforms are which.

Overall, the World Cup is a tricky time for consumers. With everyone vying for your attention and looking to cash in on the biggest sporting event of the year, it’s hard to know who to trust. Keep an eye out for the warning signs we’ve been through whilst shopping around this summer, and you’ll never fall foul of dishonesty!

Clare Gilham, Head of Marketing, www.feefo.com

Clare is Feefo’s marketing director, overseeing the implementation of the brand’s marketing strategy, including campaigns, events, digital and PR. Clare has more than 18 years’ experience across a broad range of disciplines, working for major companies including the AA, P&O Cruises, CORGIdirect and Lead Forensics.

Clare has a real passion and ambition to drive business growth, with experience in developing and establishing marketing teams and strategies in the UK, US and Europe. Clare understands the evolving needs of today’s digital customers, and aligns marketing campaigns with sales activities to meet overall business objectives.

In her spare time Clare enjoys keeping fit and active, volunteering at her local ‘help the homeless’ charity and learning and experiencing new cultures and countries.

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