I'm sure some (many?) of the reviews, especially for shops with only a few reviews, are by friends, family, and maybe even paid shills, but once the number of reviews gets into the hundreds or thousands, I figure a good percentage of them have to be legit. Even with legitimate reviews, though, I think people are more driven to post a review after a negative experience than a positive or neutral one, so I keep that in mind when reading reviews.
Anyway, because I value and use online reviews, I've tried to make more of an effort lately to review products/services, whether I thought they were good or bad. I'm pretty bad at remembering to do it, though, and can't figure out how to post a Yelp review from my phone (and hardly ever use my desktop computer), so I only end up actually posting a review maybe 2-3 times a year.
How about you? Do you read reviews? Do they change your mind about purchases? Do you write reviews?
Yes I do read customer reviews on Amazon because they are such a strong selling point. Some are 'paid shills', but we can often tell by their writing stye. I don't have the time to write product reviews on my Amazon account. Wish I could, but reviews do take quite some time to perfect and any inaccuracies will only be negatives for the next buyer. Yelp, I don't participate on.
Some examples that have persuaded me is a Tefal food grater, slashed in price by more than 50%, and I furthered a bargain by buying a used Tefal grater as its previous owner returned it as an unwanted present. That saved me another fiver (bought it for £20.29 instead of £49.99, and customer reviews were good enough to make me buy. Another was a 3Kw Delonghi Dragon 3 oil filled radiator saving me £50 last October. Recent purchase was a Kenwood Chef mixer with all bells and whistles, purchased on the strength of 24 crowing customers.
I use the review section a lot on amazon, so I do try to review things I've gotten there as well. I will review for both positive and negative products. I have to admit, I do like when I get a message that one of my reviews helped someone.