ive been musing over a few things that have been bothering me from comments i noticed on the ECF forum from a very small collection of forum users. some have been directed at myself, some have been directed at other reviewers.
basically, some guys have been saying that it is unethical for me to review products that i recieved free of charge and that by using discount codes i must have a vested interest in the company.
to those people I would like to say this:-
whenever i do a review of any e-cig i always say "i recieved" this from a supplier if it was a freebie and if its one i purchased i say "i purchased" this from a supplier. i personally think that by saying that im not pulling the wool over peoples eyes at all but for some its not good enough.
99.9% of people who contact me have all said "thanks for the code" as it saved them money but there are a few people here saying that im giving out good reviews so i benefit from it as well. they also have a problem that i dont mention i benefit from viewers using the code.
i fully understand what they say about giving a product a blinding review will no doubt help sales and therefore will benefit myself more. but, how many people actually make a purchase on my sole review alone? im sure that there may be some who do but i would imagine that the majority of people watch other reviews on the same product, read forum posts etc before making a decision to purchase. i would!
but, it will still not make a scrap of difference to me........my reviews will always be honest. full stop!
i think the best examples of this would be my reviews on the products from Electronic Cigarette | Free Yourself... | e-cigs Welcome.
i have done 3 reviews for them that use codes. 2 were freebies for review and 1 was a purchase. i scored them as follows:-
dse801 with usb pass thru, freebie, 8 out of 10
disposable cigar, freebie, 6.5 out of 10
golden shimmer cigar, purchased, 6 out of 10
the 801 is great and fully deserved the score of 8
the disposable cigar was okay, but let down by vapour production and appearance, hence 6.5
the golden shimmer i absolutely love and use it every evening but it does not produce great vapour and has fairly poor battery life, hence 6.
now, be honest. are they really scores that will set simons tills ringing? the 801 maybe, but surely not the other 2!
I would hate for people to question the honesty of my reviews so therefore i have put the following measures in place:-
1. the start of my reviews will now have a written message to state that i received the e-cig free of charge for the purpose of giving it a review.
2. the written message will also state that as well as the viewer benefiting from the code, that i will benefit from it as well as it gives me the opportunity to be able to get more e-cigs to do more reviews
3. the written message will also ask the viewer to make an informed decision as to whether they wish to continue to watch the review or take advantage of the discount code based on the information provided.
4. the written message will also state that my opinion of the e-cig will always remain true, honest and accurate in every way, shape or form.
5. my opening spoken message will be to inform the viewer that it was recieved free of charge for the purpose of a review.
6. i will no longer use any type of scoring system as i feel that a high or low score could influence a viewer either way. instead i will show the viewer the product in as much detail as possible, with as much information as possible. i will show "whats in the box", how to assemble it, point out what i think are the positives plus what i think are the negatives of the product. i will state what my personal views are on it but then state to the viewer to make their own decision based on what they have seen in the video review. (so basically, everything that i have always done minus a "score out of 10" at the end!)
i honestly dont feel that i should have to do any of this to "prove my honesty" as i know all my reviews have been conducted in a true and honest manner.
but i appreciate that for some people it could be deemed as biased. so hopefully these measures will help to prove my honesty to them....... at least in a small way.
On another note, I have openly stated in forum posts that I tend to avoid doing reviews on products that I think are poor and I would like to explain my reasons for this.
the sole reason i avoid recording reviews on poor products is simply because of time. the actual recording of a review takes me about 10 - 30 minutes depending on whether i can get it done in one take without cocking it up or getting tongue tied. i then spend around 6 - 8 hours encoding, editing, adding effects, adding titles, improving sound and picture quality, uploading to youtube etc. so in total, an average of say 7 hours from recording to the uploaded finished article.
now 7 hours does not sound like such a big deal i hear you say.......and you are right, its not. HOWEVER, the real time consuming acts are answering the hundreds of emails, private messages, youtube comments, youtube messages and forum posts that i recieve every week for every review that i publish.
now i admit, i could just simply ignore them but if someone asks me a polite question then i will bend over backwards to help them.
my reviews at 1st were getting 50 - 100 views a day in total. now though, over the course of 2 months they have received over 70,000 views and get an average of 1700 views a day and rising. the more views they get, the more questions i get. so can you imagine what it will be like in another 2 months time!
i either work during the day or look after my children and then come home to a wife and kids who want my attention. once the kids are in bed i then spend an averge of 4 - 7 hours EVERY evening answering everyone who has written to me.
i have in fact done some bad reviews. they were so bad that i honestly dont think that they would possible influence anyone to want to make a purchase or ask a question about them..........wrong! they still do! its quite unbelievable at just how many questions i recieve on the gamucci micro which i absolutely slated!
now, i would much rather spend my time answering questions and helping people with regards to products that i enjoy using myself. i really, really dont want to have to spend even more hours answering question after question on a product i think is ....e!
maybe that is wrong of me, and i fully understand why people would question it but that is my genuine and only reason for avoiding reviews on products i think are poor.
Im going to ask Dusty (Ratindahat) and Leaford to comment on this thread and give their opinions on using discount codes. Dusty, you have a sticky thread with discount codes and I know that at least some of them are yours for which you benefit if they are used. Leaford your discount codes appear in every post that you make as you advertise them in your forum signature. I only mention you guys because as far as I am aware (I may be wrong) its only myself and you two that actually use discount codes in direct relation to performing video reviews.
I suggest that SJ make a sticky post in the reviews section of the forum to clearly state that discount codes benefit the reviewer as well as the viewer and to compile a list of reviewers who use discount codes. I would even further suggest that maybe SJ create another sub forum solely for video reviews that have discount codes.
This will avoid any more accusations or confusion and will allow forum members to decide what type of reviews they wish to see.
so in summary, do reviewers benefit when a viewer uses a discount code?
does that mean a reviewer will be biased?
i can only speak for myself when i say that NOTHING would ever make me give a dishonest review. but im 100% confident that the same applies to Dusty and Leaford.
so there you have it.
armed with these facts you now have a choice:-
watch the review, dont watch the review. use the discount code, dont use the discount code.
its entirely up to you!