Here is example of some companies in Google search, this is presenting how important are reviews for customers. Google main focus is on quality results and they are open that those companies that have more positive reviews will appear higher in search resulting pages. That is why many companies are trying to stimulate those reviews and get their friend to drop review for their business. However Google is very good at caching those attempts and would delete those irrelevant reviews shortly afterwards.
People search for information about company can also try other review websites, like freeindex.co.uk or even yell.com that is getting more aggressive on online marketing and other activities in this area. Because they are loosing much business to other online marketing houses like Google or bing. This is only good news for users, as thanks to this they will be getting better results and services for what ever they are searching and are after.
I think that veracious research about company should start at Google, just typing in company name will provide much data that is stored by massive Google servers that can make or break companies image.
If you have any other suggestion, please let me know in comment section. I would love to hear your opinion.