A shill could be defined as someone who promote a product as a user when they in fact work for the company that is selling or making the product.
You should not confuse this with product endorsements by celebrities and other well-known personalities. Celebrities are paid by companies to endorse their (companies) products and these endorsements are not kept secret. Shills on the other hand though are paid and behave as if they are satisfied users of a product or service, they never disclose their affiliation.
All types of people can be shills and they can be shills for anything, from doctors to plumbers. Well known shills are gamblers, especially the street ones. I remember back in the early 90’s in Johannesburg at Joubert Park, there were a lot of gamblers and they will recruit their potential victims by acting as if they were also out trying their luck. I don’t how they did that but they’ll get people to part with their hard earned cash. The shill gambler will either win or lose in an effort to lure potential victims. These gamblers make the naïve gambler win maybe the first three or five rounds, after that the poor gambler will never win again. I don’t know if the Joubert Park gamblers are still there, it has been a long time.
So shills are everywhere. Business is tough and competition is aggressive. The business landscape is like a jungle, where only the fittest survive. The goal is the same, to get a share of the customer’s wallet. In my opinion, promoting a product or service as a shill should be illegal. Consumers deserve better service, they need to know that someone who is recommending a product or service is giving them genuine advice not one influenced by financial gain. Other people may argue that it is not illegal, maybe not but is it ethical? I do not think so.
What is disheartening is the fact that this practice is not one that consumers can easily identify and I do not know if there is a way to point it out, unless one knows the person behind the product or service being promoted. But again those who are being paid to be shills will never come out to reveal what they do. How many times have you bought something because someone recommended it? How do you know that the person who have recommended it is a genuine consumer and not a shill?
Don’t take my word for it? Just be more open-minded next time you read the reviews or recommendations any type of reviews, they may not be as honest as they are made to sounds.
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