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Gomez Advisors
A company which started out life as a consulting and net research firm is now trying to reinvent itself as The Consumer Reports of the web, offering detailed scorecards and reviews of hundreds of E-Commerce sites with the goal of attracting value-conscious net shoppers.

Gomez evaluates web sites on a scale of one to ten, ranking the leaders in E-Commerce categories including mortgage providers, online trading, net banking, online pharmacies and so on.

The problem may be conflict of interest, as BusinessWeek magazine reported this October. The company accepts advertising from companies it rates and also makes it's research available to companies interested in improving their position in the rankings - but only for a hefty fee.

The methodology Gomez uses in determining it's rankings is also a bit of a mystery. The company offers a few hints - criteria rated include customer confidence, ease of use, on-site resources and relationship resources - but the exact details are kept closely guarded, a fact that quickly leads to questions about reliability and accuracy.

Another issue: The site's e-commerce reviews, while exhaustive, may put off many ordinary consumers unused to industry terminology.

It's hard to imagine what the average American in search of a good rate for a home loan will make of reviews that offer insights like "As a subsidiary of M&I Bank, the company can leverage the bank`s existing back office operation, minimize advertising, and keep rates low."

On the other hand, industry analysts and Internet sector investors may find the site to be a useful resource.

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