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Online Reviews

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WSVN -- Before Dale Penn hires someone to work for him, he does his homework.

Dale Penn, Reads Online Reviews: "I'll go online, and I'll Google, and I'll look at the reviews that are available on the web.

Gwendolyn Ross also reads reviews.

Gwendolyn Ross, Reads Online Reviews: "There's a couple of online sites I look at. One is Angie's List and the other is Service Magic."

But can you really trust what you read?

Angie Hicks of Angie's List says the first thing to watch for are fake consumer reviews.

Angie Hicks, Angie's List: "Understand the site you're getting the reviews from, understand how they're compiled. A lot of times, you can read through and you can tell if a review might not actually be from a consumer."

If the reviews are anonymous and all positive, they're probably too good to be true.

Instead, look for reviews that have details and appear to be written by a real person.

Angie Hicks, Angie's List: "Use a critical eye to make sure that what you're getting is good information, and use it as one part of your tool set in making the decision. Don't skip out on getting estimates, getting things in writing and actually talking to the service provider face-to-face."

You should also check many sites and look for companies that have multiple reviews to get a wide opinion base.

Dale was satisfied with the AC company he recently researched.

Dale Penn, Reads Online Reviews: "They were interested in energy conservation, and they were very well informed on that, so for me, that was the most important thing."

And after getting several estimates, Gwendolyn feels good about the contractor she's hiring to build a porch.

Gwendolyn Ross, Reads Online Reviews: "We have a saying: 'Trust but verify.' So you can trust what you read, but it's up to you to verify."

Which hopefully will add up to getting the service you pay for.

Lynn Martinez: "And don't forget to let your experience help out others. Go online and write reviews, good or bad, for the companies you hire."

If you have story ideas for Money Monday, e-mail us at moneymonday@wsvn.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Florida Office of the Attorney General

http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/3044c14bf59c296d85256cc6006ed999

Better Business Bureau

http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/accredited-business-directory

Angie's List

http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/

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