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Recent Industry Experience

I was recently approached by a flashlight company who wanted me to do a review on their products.  I explained what I normally do and how long it normally takes for me to get info experience with a product before I review it (normally three or so months, usually more).   This company thought that three months was an outrageously long time and that they sent their products to "reviewers" on various forums and had reviews done within two weeks.  What can a person learn from using a product for two weeks in an unknown manner?  

The told me they would compromise for twenty days before a review was done and I again, told them I do not compromise quantity for quality.  They have not since responded to my last email.

There are a lot of info graphics and statistics on why reviews are liked by the online communities and what they tend to offer.  This article talks a little bit more about reviews and what the percentages are.

I wanted to post this because I know there are a lot of "reviewers" out there and I have joked about it before on various forums, the fact is that most of them are complete junk.  You cannot expect someone to take a "review" seriously if its a 10 minute video of that person opening a box of the item and then using it on a range or "in the field" for five minutes just for the video.  There are dozens of examples of these types of reviews out there, especially on youtube and people continue to watch them, for what purpose?

When I want to buy a product the first thing I do is google it to see what people are saying about it.  Amazon reviews are good, but there are some shills you may have to investigate.  Forum based member reviews are the best because its random people who bought the product of their own free will, with their own hard earned money, who take their own time to post their personal experience with it.  Especially those done after a lengthy period of time.  But, that does not help businesses, does it?  Why would any business want to wait months or even years before a review of their product be done that they meanwhile just released?  Pretty poor business model, right?

I agree, which is why I have suggested to numerous companies that during the T&E process they send those products out, the one off's the product that they only made 5 of to test and see if it works, and while it is still in development allow someone who has capable to advise on that type item do so.  Then when the product comes out that same person should do a full review of it and publish it to various forums (or on their own website where they do professional reviews).

There have been a few companies who have jumped at the chance and for that they get a pretty decent response at launch.  Other companies do not want to take the risk and want instant gratification for their products, the twenty day review.  Guess who that negatively affects?  You.  The end user.  The one who works a full time job, and has to buy the products blind without them ever being reviewed.  If they are really high end products (like a watch, NVG, rifles/pistols or expensive niche clothing), then more thought is always going to go into this process, more research, more threads on forums and the hope someone like me did a review on the product they are looking at.  There is a bit of trust that goes along with this whole thing and I try my best to provide the best product (review) I possibly can, in a professional manner and format.

Remember that you may read a glowing review from someone and want to buy the product right away, I'd caution you to go out of your way and verify that review with at least three independent sources.  I do, and I have yet to have that method fail for me.  If that means you don't buy the latest and greatest piece of gear then so be it, because you want a quality item not a dud, right?  Also consider that the reviewer may be subsidized by that company for a positive review and as all businesses go, negative reviews mean bad business.  How many negative or non-favorable reviews has that person done that were backed up by first hand experience of that product?  I have done negative reviews and it has cost me a fair amount of money, but it would be unethical for me to do a good review on a product that is not good.  

Contrarily, I have told people I could provide any feedback about a product I just because I did not have enough time using it and my opinion would be worth anything.  If you have seen me post on any of the forums I frequent you will have seen this occur from time to time.  

You should not only do your research about a product but also the reviewer of that product.  Is this person qualified to review this item?  Is this person being paid to review this item favorably?  How many items from this company has this person received for free to review these items and have all the reviews been favorable?  Does this person disclose their relationship with this company?  How much they paid for the item?  If you read my reviews I always say where I got it from, how much I paid and if it was free I say so, especially if it so for the purpose of a review.

Reviewers are not all built the same and not all process reviews the same way.  Anyone can submit a review a week about a product they just got in order to shill it to the general public.  Who does that benefit? You or that company and reviewer?  We should all strive to act in an ethical manner and doing quality reviews so that people know exactly what they are getting, especially when it comes to items that may save or take lives is just that much more important.  

Educate yourself and do not fall for the hype.