Munich / Dortmund (dpa / tmn) - Online reviews serve as a guide for many - but they often only provide a distorted picture. Tatjana Halm from the Bavarian Consumer Center points out that it is questionable whether such assessments give a representative picture of reality.

Scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund have found that customer reviews, for example, do not reflect the quality of electronic products well. The conclusion of study author Sören Köcher: "One should rather not rely on the average ratings as a quality indicator."

In the approximately 1300 electrical products compared, there was hardly any match between professional judgments by Stiftung Warentest and ratings by Amazon customers.

It is best to only read individual reviews

Buyers and customers tended to report only particularly positive or negative reactions. "That's why we rarely find medium ratings with three or two stars," explains Köcher. In this case, users simply had no motivation to write.

The researcher recommends reading individual evaluations and not looking at the calculated overall rating. Bad reviews are often emotional reactions. “It could be things that have nothing to do with the product at all, such as packaging damage or late delivery,” he explains.

BGH approves automated selection of ratings

In any case, there is no right to a representative assessment, as the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decided on Tuesday (Az .: VI ZR 496/18). In this case, the operator of a fitness studio sued unsuccessfully against the rating platform Yelp because the rating average displayed for the studio (2.5 out of 5 possible stars) was based only on 2 «recommended» out of a total of 76 user contributions.

The portal's algorithm rated the other ratings as unhelpful or authentic, so it was marked as “not recommended” and was not used to form the average rating. The court approved this procedure.

Supreme Court ruling