Monday, October 04, 2010

How to Get Products for Free Part 15

Would you lie to get something for free? How about pretending to be someone else or promising something you don't plan to deliver? Don't. This chapter looks at the reasons why anyone trying to something for free should stay truthful. It also exposes some of the types of liars who mean you can't trust every review you read.
Chapter 15: Don’t lie
In the last chapter I touched upon the fact I was in no position to lie about the products I received. The viewers would castrate me, I’d feel disgraced and my blog loyalty would be removed overnight. So as you’d expect this has led to plenty of nasty phone calls and emails asking me to change reviews or take down content.

The whole thing is absolutely preposterous, given that a review is meant to be an author’s honest account of their experience with a product. This will always lead to some people absolutely raving about a product and
some absolutely hating it. That’s why websites exist such as Rotten Tomatoes.com - which tallies together all the good and bad reviews of a film and creates a rating based on that. It’s also why I try to find one positive and negative in every product, so people can get a fairer idea if it’s for them. In turn companies can refine the product and make it better. Because let’s face it nothing’s perfect.

That said over the years I have seen people fired for voicing their opinion. Especially when they refer to a key advertiser so it’s a touchy area. Everyone likes to believe reviewers are telling the truth but with multi million
dollar advertisers at stake you can imagine the sort of massaging that goes on. The reviews in this guide are honest, but were you to see a big corporate logo for any of the products featured I’d have had to tread carefully. So be wary of sites that seem to love everything they cover, and if sites use a score stick to those on a 1-10 scale who actually give it a 1 every now and then.

My first experience of this sort of review massaging came in the form of an email saying “We have a few advertisers interesting in sending you products, however they are concerned people may write poor opinions in the comments box. Therefore can it please be removed”? In essence here were advertisers so scared of poor public opinion that they decided to remove it.

I’d love to name and shame them here but all I have is a PR name. I asked for the products anyway to see why they were so afraid to let people voice the truth but nothing ever came. I can only assume they got cold feet and went elsewhere to some other poor schmuck who could write what they wanted them to say.

Companies can also call about the littlest things. Asking you to change them after a review is live, and aside from factual errors I never oblige. The below Cirondo review (my 23rd product) will seem pretty positive
all around but I still received a call regardless.

Read the Cirondo Review

I received an angry phone call mere minutes after the review went live first asking me to remove my comment saying the instructions were confusing. I declined on the basis that it was an opinion and I can’t really rewrite my own experience.

Secondly I was told that the game board wasn’t confusing and that they had received hundreds of reviews and positive feedback from others who found no such problems. But again, that’s great for those reviewers, but my experience was different. People will read those positive reviews and come to their own conclusions.

The PR rep was nice enough, took my comments on board and hung up with little fuss. I don’t even blame him for calling or taking to heart negative comments on a product he works with every day. The worrying factor is that I have no doubt for every 100 reviewers that would have stood up to him, someone somewhere would have backed down, removed the negative elements and written a happier piece. Let’s hope we all avoid that one review…

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My Policy

Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).