One would hope that Internet users are savvy enough by this time to understand that rating systems and online reviews are mixed bag/have questionable reliability to the true and overall experience that the reviewer had. What would it take for someone to post a one-star review for example? Often, these are event-based reviews and not necessarily the experience that the reviewer has had with that business over time.

Reviews can work well when you’re going to purchase an article of clothing from the store or a meal from a restaurant. It seems to me in order to earn a one-star review the people working at the business would have to be rude, uninformed about the products or services they are providing, mess up your bill, be inattentive, and basically create an experience where nothing goes right. But a one-star review just because the bill got messed up? Or maybe the bill got messed up and the food arrived cold? There typically are five levels of reviews, so why would a reviewer give that establishment the absolute worst rating?

Compare that with a relationship that you have with a service business over time, for example, on a regular basis for one or two years. What would it take for that organization to earn/deserve a one-star review?

Every interaction would have to be miserable, requests ignored, incompetent employees, questionable practices, terrible customer service skills, messing up financial transactions, and the like. In short, everything would have to go wrong. Or at least you would think so when looking at the ratings online. 
Yet if you analyze many one-star reviews online you may find an interesting trend.

Most seem to be precipitated by a single event that really angered the reviewer. Now that’s not to say that the relationship was perfect prior to the review, and that one event may have pushed the reviews over the edge. These are commonly referred to as “revenge reviews” because the people are so angry, they take it out on the business rather than work through the management chain of the business to get remedy. Were they disagreeing with the business’s perspective on the dispute? 
The thing that many reviewers don’t understand is that one-star reviews can be very damaging to future business of a small company. They stay online for many many years after that event unfolded. Or perhaps they don’t care because expressing their feelings in public is more important to them.  And the most cynical view, they know exactly what they are doing and exactly what the impact will be on that small business. In any of these instances, one-star review posters may very likely be extremely egoistical, imagining the power they wield to stick it to that business. 

Do rivalries between frequent complainers and businesses exist as in the popular HBO series “The White Lotus?” Absolutely. But keep that off-line and work through your problems together. 
So when you are looking at overall ratings online and reviewing and reading one-star reviews, keep in mind the that some reviews are the result of an immediate emotional outburst and not an accurate reflection of what a company can do for you. Read diligently the things that people are complaining about and the responses that business owners post because they almost always include more information that the reviewer conveniently omitted from the story. 

Scott Bloom, Owner and Senior Property Manage
Columbia Property Management

Scott Bloom founded Columbia Property Management (CPM) in 2012. And today, he is both the owner and senior property manager. CPM’s goal is to provide a powerful, personal level of service to our clients. We focus on smaller landlords, professionally managing their assets, so they can succeed by investing in rental real estate. Scott is an active member in multiple professional organizations including the National Association of Residential Property Managers.