The review process on the OnePlus online store is now being questioned by users on Reddit following the experience posted by a OnePlus customer. The person in question posted their review of the company’s tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 6T only to find the review was removed within a matter of days. The suggestion is this is not an isolated incident either as the same customer notes there were other reviews detailing similar experiences that were also posted recently, and that have also since been removed. Leading to the assumption OnePlus is removing what it deems to be negative reviews resulting in the review section that only promotes reviews that promote the product.
After a quick search through the company’s online store, if OnePlus is indeed removing negative reviews then it would seem to be selectively doing so as some negative reviews can be found. What is interesting though is the general lack of negative reviews in relation to the OnePlus 6T-related products specifically. As most of the negative reviews are for older devices including the OnePlus 6. Of the cases related to the OnePlus 6T only the Karbon bumper case seems to have any notably negative reviews, although even these are ones that are a little favorable in spite of being low-rated. For example, while they note how slippery the case it they also typically point out how nice it is as well. In terms of current complaints on the tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 6T, there's currently only a small number of reviews showing on the product page and they are all five-star reviews.
Is the OnePlus 6T also affected?
What is likely to be the biggest concern here is if OnePlus is indeed choosing the reviews it shows on its storefront then is the company's main smartphone also affected? While this is impossible to say with any certainty, the review section on the OnePlus 6T's product page does clearly show the device in an overwhelmingly positive light. At present, there’s a little over 220 reviews listed and none of which are one or two-star rated. There’s a single three-star review and roughly ten four-star reviews with the remaining 200+ reviews all coming with a straight five-star appraisal.
It could be the case that the overwhelming number of people do rate the OnePlus 6T as a five-star device, which would not be unexpected considering the company enjoys a very active and involved user base that's likely to be as equally active when it comes to voicing their positive opinion on the latest smartphone from the company. However, what is somewhat of a red flag is the sheer absence of any clearly negative reviews. Even the single lowest-rated three-star review is not entirely bad with the reviewer explaining they like the phone overall but it’s just not as much of an upgrade as they had hoped for compared to their previous smartphone - which also happened to be a OnePlus phone.
Does it matter if OnePlus is choosing reviews?
Many will argue (as some are doing on the Reddit post) that not only does it not matter that OnePlus might be selecting reviews to display, but that consumers -- rightly or wrongly -- should expect OnePlus, and any other company that displays reviews on its own site to curate the results to some degree. The suggestion being companies in general are unwilling, or at the very least unlikely to want to display any reviews that are too disparaging. While that indeed might be the case in general, there’s a very fundamental difference here and that’s the availability of OnePlus products at the consumer level.
OnePlus did recently embark on a partnership which lets consumers in the US purchase its latest smartphone through T-Mobile. This marks a first for their company, but besides that partnership, the OnePlus online store is primarily the only place you can purchase official OnePlus products from - at least in the US and at the going rate. This lack of third-party retail presence does mean the availability of balanced information and feedback from users is also going to be limited to begin with, and even more so if the company is choosing the reviews it shows. This is far different to the situation other manufacturers face where they might be able to hide negative reviews on their own sites, but not on the various other retailer sites that will also be selling the same products. Therefore, in the case of other manufacturers, consumers at least have the opportunity of a greater pool of sources to draw from and are more likely to encounter some negative reviews, even if they are still far fewer than the number of positive ones.
Another case of buyer beware
This is not the first time the validity of review sections on retail sites has been questioned. Earlier in the year, it was found Huawei had started a program that led to what in effect was ‘fake reviews’ on the Best Buy website. Once the issue came to light, Huawei acknowledged the reviews were not independent, but denied any intentional wrongdoing or manipulation, placing the blame on technical issues instead.
While there’s no firm evidence to suggest OnePlus is intentionally, or otherwise skewing the reviews shown on its website, this latest user report does add to the notion buyers should be aware of where they are getting their information from when looking to purchase a new product. As while some stores (like Google’s, for example) don’t seem to actively show any user reviews, the ones that do provide insights from users might technically be even more misleading and non-informational than those with no reviews at all. For example, and to highlight the difference between the current OnePlus 6T product page reviews and that of another current and top-tier smartphone, while only one of the 220+ reviews of the OnePlus 6T come with a rating that's not either five or four stars, Samsung’s product page for the unlocked 128GB Galaxy Note 9 currently shows 94 user reviews, 24 of which (25%) come with a three-star or lower rating. Although this is still a favorable percentage overall for Samsung, there’s still enough low-rated reviews to at least provide some balance to potential buyers.