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Has this ever happened to you? You're in the market to buy something, perhaps a new car or a new wristwatch. You've got a few models in mind, but you want to know what other people thought of them before you invest. You ask around, and everyone seems to have a different opinion! Some insist it's the most useless thing they have ever paid money for, while a webpage online says it's the best thing since sliced bread! Who do you believe? We'll help you learn how to find the true, balanced opinions among the angry rants and advertising.
The ultimate source of balanced opinion and tested fact is the Consumer Reports organization. They publish regular compilations of the results of the tests they have done on a variety of products and services, from toasters to children's toys. They rate them scientifically based on qualities such as durability, safety, function, and price and leave it up to the consumer (that's you) to make the decision. Because they're more of a watchdog than an affiliated party, you can trust that there are no companies pulling their strings.
Online Product Reviews
The internet is flooded with opinions. Some of them are placed there by the company to influence you in the product's favor, some of them are placed there by other companies to influence you against the product, and still others are legitimate opinions from real customers. The trick to finding the real ones is not go to the website of the executive recruitment firm itself but to message boards on well known gathering sites and look for consensus opinions. If you were looking for reviews on your watch, for instance, you might go on Amazon. If ten people mention that the battery dies too quickly, it's probably true.
Word of Mouth
People naturally tend to trust their friends and family, so often their word is taken at face value when they've got opinions on a product you'd like to purchase. While trusted people in your life will tend to give their true opinion, that doesn't mean it's not biased, so ask several people. Next time you go out ask your support group what their experiences with it were and see if their opinions back up the others. Remember, the more info you have the more secure your decision will be.
Testimonials are an iffy way of forming an opinion. Your real estate agent will probably have on his site lots of thank-yous and recommendations from former clients. However, before taking them at face value ask for their contact information so you can talk to them yourself. And, as always, talk to more than one.