How Do You Know?

For me it began with a nose hair trimmer. Believe it or not, this was the least boring item on my adult brother’s Christmas wish list. Squeezed in between his standard annual requests for a ‘black dress belt’ and a ‘white, button-down shirt’, the nose hair trimmer was a refreshing newcomer to the scene.

By no means was it my idea of a good gift, but that didn’t matter. If it would make my brother happy, then I would be happy to get it for him. And, loving sister that I am, I was determined to give him the best damn nose hair trimmer ever made!

I wasted no time finding it. Jumping online, I began researching facial hair trimming devices and was instantly propelled into a strange new world of ‘dual-edge hypo-allergenic, titanium-coated, lube-for-life blades’ and ‘sneeze-free trimming’ amenities. Feeling much like Dorothy landing in Oz, or Alice falling down the rabbit hole, I tried hard to get my bearings as my head filled to bursting with an infinite list of familiar and not-so-familiar brand names, manufacturer’s hawking multi-function tools vs. specialized designs, not to mention the multitude of accessories and add-ons ‘dangled’ before me for consideration. Overwhelmed by information overload, I was on the verge of buyer’s despair.

And then I saw them: five little stars twinkling in a row just below the product name and brand. All right, they weren’t really twinkling, nevertheless, they did guide me to the Customer Reviews as surely as real constellations steer sailors to safe waters. Customer reviews; I knew what they were, of course, but I’d never paid them much mind until now.

Scrolling through comment after comment from people who had purchased these products, I began to relax. These people were speaking from experience; good, bad, or otherwise. That’s the beauty of customer reviews, they speak the truth, even when they disagree.  Assisted by this community forum, I managed to narrow my choices down to two contenders, both of which featured a wet/dry vacuum cleaning system to ‘whisk away hair clippings.’ Virtually identical per the manufacturers’ descriptions, I decided the ‘winner’ would be the one whose customer reviews spoke to me the loudest.

In short order, one comment in particular called out to me: “This item really SUCKS….and I mean that in a good way!” Bearing in mind that the trimmer in question had a built-in vacuum cleaning system, this play on words appealed to the writer in me, and tapped lightly on my funny bone as well. It was also the review that sealed the deal. Placing the item in my electronic shopping cart, I proceeded to check out without a backward glance.

You see, thanks to the efficiency of the customer review community — made up of millions of shoppers like you and me — I have become a knowledgeable and confident consumer.  My extensive product research is no longer complete without a visit to the reviews page. I have also become a consumer reviewer myself. It doesn’t seem right to take and benefit from others without returning the favor whenever I can. Recommendations on what to buy, where to stay, even where to eat, are priceless when they come from first-hand experience.

The same is true of books. Whether browsing in a bookstore or shopping on Amazon, I’m first drawn to a book by its cover. If the front is attention-getting enough, I’ll turn the book over to read the story description on the back. After that, it’s time for me to decide: to read or not to read? I think I’ll check the reviews first.




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