Merchant Ratings FAQs

What is the BizRate Smiley Scale(tm)?
How should I use the ratings?
What does the "Customer Certified" logo mean?
What does "Not Yet Rated" mean?
What does "Being Re-Rated" mean?
What is the number of reviews?
How are your reviews and ratings gathered?
How can I rate an online store?
Where can I find a Store Report Card?
How are your ratings calculated?
What are the 16 quality ratings and what do they mean?
How often are Store Ratings and Reviews updated?
How do you stop ratings manipulations and fraud?
Many sites have store ratings, what's the big deal about yours?
Do stores pay to be listed in the Store Ratings section?
What do Customer Certified stores receive for participating in the program?
What stores are eligible to be Customer Certified on BizRate?
How can I join the BizRate Online Research Panel?

What is the BizRate Smiley Scale(tm)?

Icon: Outstanding Outstanding
Icon: Good Good
Icon: Satisfactory Satisfactory
Icon: Poor Poor

The BizRate Smiley Scale is a simple and intuitive way to visualize a lot of rigorous research about a store's capabilities, so you, the consumer can, at a glance tell the good from the not-so-good when comparison shopping.

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How should I use the ratings?

The Smiley Scale can quickly help you find stores with the level of quality you like for the price that you want. Example: Is it worth saving $10 on a bouquet of flowers when the merchant has a Red Sad-face for "On-time delivery"? Not if it's the day before Valentines!

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What does the "Customer Certified" logo mean?

To be "Customer Certified" a store must fulfill two requirements.

  1. Participate in BizRate's Continuous Feedback Program
    The store must participate in BizRate's free customer survey program, allowing BizRate to collect feedback continuously and directly from its customers as they check-out and after the date of fulfillment through follow-up e-mail surveys. This way, BizRate collects detailed timely feedback from real verified customers at check-out and after fulfillment and can be sure that we are allowing all customers to tell us what a store experience is like.
  2. Customer Satisfaction
    The store must get a rating of satisfactory or better on all twelve quality rating dimensions of service.

Stores that pass the above requirements are truly committed to proactively receiving customer feedback and to providing satisfactory customer service and are thus designated as "Customer Certified" with the following logo on the BizRate site: Icon: Customer Certified Ribbon Customer Certified

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What does "Not Yet Rated" mean?

"Not Yet Rated" mean that BizRate is in the process of evaluating the store but has not yet collected enough customer reviews to issue a rating. We require a minimum of 20 surveys in the past 90 days to ensure we have a statistically significant rating of a store's performance and not the opinion of just a handful of customers.

As soon as enough valid reviews have been collected, a rating will be calculated and displayed.

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What does "Being Re-Rated" mean?

Stores can be re-rated for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Detection of a significant amount of suspicious reviews or other unusual activity that makes us believe that the prior ratings were unreliable.
  • Significant changes to a store's site or operations.

Once enough valid reviews have been gathered, a new rating will be calculated and displayed for this store.

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What is the number of reviews?

The number of reviews is the total number of individual consumer reviews that BizRate has collected for a particular store. The more people who have reviewed a store, the more statistically reliable the ratings are. For instance if 50,000+ people say a store is great in on-time delivery, it's a little different than if 3 people say so. (After all, the 3 people could be the storeowner's mom, dad and brother!)

BizRate does not consider anything less than 20 reviews in a 3-month period to be a statistically relevant number and therefore does not post scores for stores below this threshold of reviews. These stores are clearly designated as: "Not Yet Rated".

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How are your reviews and ratings gathered?

BizRate combines consumer feedback from two different sources to create the most comprehensive and reliable store ratings available anywhere.

  1. Customer Certified Ratings
    Many of our stores are designated as "Customer Certified". These stores have agreed to allow BizRate to collect feedback directly from their customers as they make purchases. To do this, BizRate literally sits at the checkout (receipt) page of tens of millions of transactions each month inviting real customers to share their experiences and give feedback directly after a purchase. (You may have seen our invitations pop-up when you've shopped around the web! Hopefully, you've filled out a survey.) Of course, a transaction is not complete until a customer receives his/her goods. Therefore, we follow up via e-mail to make sure that the store delivered the goods as promised. This continuous process ensures that BizRate is able to collect timely, detailed and accurate ratings and feedback about both the ordering and fulfillment process of every Customer Certified store. No other ratings methodology comes close!
  2. BizRate Members
    Through the years, BizRate has put together a panel of over 1.3 million active online shoppers who have volunteered to provide ratings and feedback to help others shop. Also, each month our site welcomes millions of online shoppers looking to compare prices and share their experiences regarding each merchant. We use this virtual army of shoppers to rate stores who may not want to cooperate with BizRate by giving us access to gather feedback from their customers at checkout. By combining the above sources of feedback, we assure you the shopper that we have the most reliable and up-to-date ratings possible regarding each store!

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How can I rate an online store?

Click on any Store Report Card link (see below) and you will have an opportunity to "Give Feedback" to BizRate regarding your purchases at the store.

Alternatively, every time you make a purchase at an online store look for the BizRate survey invitation on the receipt page. Over 2,000 stores are participating in our program, so you should run into us somewhere! Simply click on that invitation and you'll be presented with the BizRate survey. In the survey, you'll be asked to evaluate the store for the purchase you just made. If you do not see a survey invitation on a store's receipt page, this means that the store is not yet participating in our free Customer Certified survey program. We encourage you to ask the store to join the program and help us help all online buyers make more informed, confident decisions.

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Where can I find a Store Report Card?

From any store listing on BizRate, you can click on the Smiley Scale(tm) rating or on the number of reviews link and you will see its report card. Click on the Store Ratings tab to search directly for Store Report Cards and compare stores within a particular category side-by-side. Store Report Cards include the Store Rating (including the twelve quality ratings), customer reviews, key features and services offered, and important contact information.

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How are your ratings calculated?

BizRate takes great care to ensure that we have the most rigorous and reliable and up-to-date ratings possible. Accordingly, we take the latest feedback from our point-of-sale survey network and combine it with the latest feedback from BizRate Members to arrive at Store Ratings.

The equation that determines each merchant's rating is calculated as follows for each dimension of service:

 

(Average Survey Scores * Number of Surveys) + (Average Member Scores * Number of Member Reviews) / (Number of Surveys + Number of Member Reviews)

Of course, since merchant ratings often change over time – Holiday season is not the same as summertime – time is also a very important element in our calculations. Accordingly, we only use data from the latest 90 days when performing the calculations to arrive at a rating. That means that, in effect, the information on BizRate is never more than three months old!

It should be noted, that while we weigh each individual feedback point for all sources equally in our ratings, the stores participating in our Customer Certified program generally have the most reliable ratings because they are allowing BizRate to proactively and continuously solicit feedback fromactual customers on their site receipt page and through follow-up e-mail surveys after fulfillment, when the experience with a store is freshest. Thus, the Customer Certified program truly represents the "gold standard" of customer satisfaction ratings of stores. To find stores in this program look for the "Customer Certified" medal on their site or the following designation on ours: Icon: Customer Certified Ribbon Customer Certified

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What are the 16 quality ratings and what do they mean?

8 of the 16 quality ratings are determined at the point-of-sale or "checkout". These are collected by asking a store's customers to evaluate their purchase experiences immediately after completing the online transaction. The remaining 8 quality ratings are determined when the purchase is expected to be received as an "after delivery" follow-up. Explanations of each ratings attribute are found below:

Source Rating Explanation
at checkout Ease of finding what you are looking for How easily were you able to find the product your were looking for
at checkout Selection of products Types of products available
at checkout Clarity of product information How clear and understandable was the product information
at checkout Prices relative to other online merchants Prices relative to other web sites
at checkout Overall look and design of site Overall look and design of the site
at checkout Shipping charges Shipping charges
at checkout Variety of shipping options Desired shipping options were available
at checkout Charges stated clearly before order submission Total purchase amount (including shipping/handling charges) displayed before order submission
after delivery Availability of product you wanted Product was in stock at time of expected delivery
after delivery Order tracking Ability to track orders until delivered
after delivery On-time delivery Product arrived when expected
after delivery Product met expectations Correct product was delivered and it worked as described/depicted
after delivery Customer support Availability/Ease of contacting, courtesy & knowledge of staff, resolution of issue
after delivery Would shop here again Likelihood to buy again from this store
after delivery Overall rating Overall experience with this purchase
after delivery Likelihood to recommend How likely are you to recommend this merchant

Our Travel Reservations category maintains a slightly different set of quality ratings that have been custom-designed to better evaluate these online businesses.

Source Rating Explanation
at purchase Ease of making reservations Convenience and speed of making reservations
at purchase Planning selection Quality of travel planning selection
at purchase Planning information Quantity, quality & relevance of information
at purchase Ease of comparing prices Ease of comparing prices across other online travel sites
at purchase Confirmation process of reservation Order was confirmed
at purchase Accuracy of reservation Was reservation correct and complete at time of confirmation
at purchase Speed with which reservation was confirmed Confirmation was received in a timely manner
at purchase Overall look and design of site Overall look and design of site
after travel Timely delivery of ticket/confirmation Timely delivery of ticket/confirmation
after travel Accuracy of ticket/confirmation Error-free ticket/confirmation
after travel Customer support Availability/Ease of contacting, courtesy & knowledge of staff, resolution of issue
after travel Value for price paid Value for price paid
after travel Would shop here again Likelihood to buy again from this travel site
after travel Overall rating Overall experience with this purchase

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How often are Store Ratings and Reviews updated?

Every day we gather additional feedback from customers. The ratings and reviews of Customer Certified stores are updated every week. BizRate Member Ratings are also collected continuously, but updated on a weekly basis.

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How do you stop ratings manipulations and fraud?

We've been in the business of ratings online stores since 1996. Through the years we've put in place many ways of detecting and eliminating fraudulent ratings. Of course, for obvious reasons, we don't like to detail exactly what we look for and how we detect fraud, but suffice it to say that we use a combination of sophisticated mathematical algorithms, large numbers of reviews from a variety of sources that are checked against each other for consistency, and powerful analytic tools and systems to make sure that we are on the leading edge of detecting and eliminating systematic fraud from our ratings. Quite simply, without the most reliable store ratings on the web, we wouldn't be BizRate!

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Many sites have store ratings, what's the big deal about yours?

We are the only comparison shopping site with ratings as a focus. Thus, our methodology, sampling techniques and comprehensiveness of sources are unsurpassed. And now, with the colorful Smiley Scale, our ratings are extremely intuitive and easy to use too. It's no wonder that BizRate is the site that the press and respected organizations such as Consumers Union look to when trying to assess online store quality.

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Do stores pay to be listed in the Store Ratings section?

No. To maintain the highest possible levels of objectivity and independence in our ratings, we do not charge stores for evaluation or listing on BizRate. We are dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased information to make more informed and confident online buying decisions.

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What do Customer Certified stores receive for participating in the program?

Customer Certified stores receive a "Customer Certified" medal for display on their site and medaled designation on BizRate showing all visitors their participation in the web's most rigorous monitoring program and their proactive stance of receiving feedback and providing a satisfactory customer experience. In addition, all participants in BizRate's point-of-sale survey program receive free real-time research based on survey results to help them to better serve their customers' needs.

To learn more about the FREE BizRate "Customer Certified" program, click here .

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What stores are eligible to be Customer Certified on BizRate?

Any online store can apply to participate in the free BizRate Customer Certification Program as long as the store:

  1. sells products/services over the Web
  2. has full online ordering capabilities
  3. agrees to be independently evaluated by its customers through BizRate's survey process.

To learn more about the FREE BizRate "Customer Certified" program, click here .

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How can I join the BizRate Online Research Panel?

To ensure the high integrity of our data, we require all members of our research panel to be online buyers. We give online buyers the opportunity to join the BizRate Online Research Panel by expressing their interest on our surveys. To join, simply click on the panel information checkbox in the survey following your next purchase from a Customer Certified online store. More information will be sent directly to you via email.

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