A quick bit of sunlight on product reviews
No, this isn’t about server statuses or what’s going on with Pocketables, the other editors, or Crowdgather. It’s about how some of this is run on my end, and now that the server has a fresh start here’s something I’ve been thinking about posting for a while as I get asked about it on a fairly regular basis.
As you know, I do a lot of reviews. This means I get a lot of product, usually at no cost (unless you count flying to CES in Vegas yearly, business cards, lodging, etc,) although there are several exceptions (such as the phones, some things I review when talking about strange jobs, a lot of odd computer equipment, etc).
I get some of these products by reaching out to a company and asking for their PR contact, then I talk to the PR contact. They look at the site to verify I’m who I say I am, we do a verifying thing, I send over some metrics, and I maybe get a review unit.
Most of these sub-$200 products probably cost $20 to make and $12 to ship. Not many are requested for return. I don’t sell these products, but usually end up giving them to friends to get them out of my house.
The majority of the products we review come from unsolicited “hey, would you review our product?” contacts. Evidently when your traffic metrics are decent and you’ve been writing for years people approach you. I get a lot of these a week and I turn down most of these. I really can’t review 200 power banks in a row.
I’ve been talking to a couple of vendors to see if they want to supply to readers who would do reviews, response has been underwhelming so far as it’s not actually in place yet. I’ve been told once we do it they might have some interest. Meh!
If a product’s utter crap, I’m probably not going to do a review of it. Notable exceptions include a watch we reviewed a while ago where I was really pretty sure they intended to sell garbage. That made me angry. Grrr.
I skip the occasional review for a couple of reasons – one – very little good ever came out of saying something was utter garbage, two – dealing with tech support trying to figure out what is going wrong exceeded any possibility of a good return for anyone involved, three there should be something here to wrap up the sentence but I lost it.
I personally make no money based on a review from Pocketables or any manufacturer that sends me anything. I can write something as a five star review (very rarely,) or a 1 star and it makes no difference to my baby bottle fund.
It might make a difference to Pocketable’s income. If you purchase something through a tagged link they make some money, but meh, not in my now lack of paycheck. I mention this because I can do trashing reviews if I want. It’s a nice bit of freedom even if I don’t use it much.
It also might make a difference if I ever got product from said place again, but meh. There’re only so many earbuds, phone cases, charging stations, etc that any one place will produce.
I have been offered money to produce positive reviews. I don’t continue talking with those companies with one exception. I didn’t take the money. Should have as the product was actually good, but nope. I made it clear I did appreciate the bribe attempt but I was going to do what I was going to do.
My personal site, I try to not advertise as potential conflict of interest with Pocketables, is an exception to the not making a bit of difference what I rate stuff. There it affects my bottom line. Everything there sold does make me money. That said, it makes so little that I have no good incentive to lie (and actually get more traffic on some of my I-hate-this-product reviews).
HTC doesn’t like me enough to send me free product. I’ll put that out there. Pretty sure they dislike me actually. Pick apart their spyware, failures to deliver on promises, see if you get a review unit again ;)
If you see me reviewing something on Amazon, chances are you’ll see me complaining about the 5-star reviews being fake.
That said, I have a review pile based on CES that’s four feet high that I will be plowing through these coming days.