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Companies fighting back against online reviews

Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham

Companies fighting back against online reviews

CREATED Sep. 3, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep. 3, 2012

The American shopper is once again on a spending spree -- packing shopping malls and searching for deals online.  Sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon -- which allow you to write about the experiences -- are increasingly becoming a deciding factor in where to do business, and many times they are not very flattering.

Wanda Batista started a recent online shopping spree by scanning comments before punching in her credit card number.

"I looked up their beauty product. I ended up buying some brushes," she says.

But then the problems started.

"The package came late. I was annoyed, really annoyed. I had a mindful to give them in my review," Wanda says.

She adds, "I got an email from the company saying if I could take my review off I can get half of what I paid as a refund like as a bribe."

So Wanda took the deal. A score for the company because that review could have had a devastating impact on the bottom line. Case in point -- a study by Opinion Research reports 83% of online shoppers say reviews influence their purchases.

It's a familiar problem for restaurant owner Nardo Foglia.  "I had people come in and tell me about bad comments. Come in and walk right back out," he says.

He reaches out to those customers -- offering them incentives to come back, but has never asked a customer to take down their opinion.

"Talk to them to see that I'm genuine person to come back and I'll make it right," Nardo says.

For Wanda, it continues to be the comments that will make or break her buying decision. "I always try to pay more attention to the negative ones to see if there's anything their that applies to me."

The ratings do have an impact.  A Harvard study found that each star on the website Yelp translated to a 5%-9% effect on business.