Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Jan 7 2015 14:42:32

What to Do When Asked for Free Items to Review

By: Ina Steiner

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Some bloggers have built a following by reviewing products, especially in the fashion and beauty categories, some even becoming celebrities themselves in the process.

Increasingly sellers are being asked for free products in return for product reviews. I've seen people make such requests on seller boards. In one instance, a person said she headed a group of people who left reviews on Amazon and was looking for a few products at cost in exchange for reviews.

The topic also came up on Etsy when a seller explained how she evaluated such requests. While some of her colleagues said they would never consider such requests, she pointed out that "well written reviews can do a lot to boost sales and increase your search engine results (aka SEO), but you have to be picky."

Conversely, some brands actively seek out bloggers looking to send them free products in the hopes of getting exposure - it's considered a marketing strategy by those firms.

Under what circumstances would you agree to provide items for review? Is it more common in some product categories than others?




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Jan 7 16:44:33 2015

I'd consider it. But I'd want to see some examples of the author's reviews.

Is the author fair? Is the review comprehensive? Is the review easy to follow? Is the review believable?

With my luck, I'd likely get a reviewer who simply writes ''Nice widget. Thanks.''

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Jan 7 16:45:57 2015

Also... I wonder if these types of quid-pro-quo reviews should be labeled as such?

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 7 18:27:58 2015

Anonymous Annie wrote:
With my luck, I'd likely get a reviewer who simply writes ''Nice widget. Thanks.''

Me too!

But, lets face the truth here, it is bloggers doing a soft blackmail, and product owners buying positive reviews, or at the least kind treatment  -- regardless of the spin placed on the activity.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jan 7 21:56:08 2015

I'm always looking for the ultimate anti-aging cream that will make me look 20 again (I'll settle for looking 40 again), and see a lot of blogs reviewing anti-aging products where it's been acknowledged that said products were provided free for review from the manufacturer. Outside of a manufacturer, which is trying to gain publicity for a new product, I don't see a benefit for an online retailer to give out free products, especially when there are sites such as Amazon where the reviews are from people who have paid money for the products and, presumably, the reviews are unbiased.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Jan 7 22:12:49 2015

The sleaze is spreading.

More phony reviews bought and paid for by 'sponsors.'

Under no circumstances would I give away the quality merchandise I sell for a few insincere words.

Amazon should put an end to this practice immediately  when nit can be recognized.

It just gets slimier every day.

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 00:04:22 2015

I see very little difference in this type of tactic then I do in rushing to use what ever gimmick the venues are promising that will raise you in the searches. Free shipping, etc. I call it Desperation!

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Jan 8 00:30:53 2015

My daughter is one of those bloggers, but she has never asked for merchandise. It just comes to our door. If you have to ask then perhaps you're not really that good at what you do. JMHO.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Thu Jan 8 00:31:33 2015

90% of reviews are fake or hate driven. Since Google decided to "award" the reviews business to a handful of companies, like ResellerRatings, which charges thousands of dollars a month to allow merchants to display (mostly nagative) reviews, the overall Reviews business made user's opinion irrelevant. For example, resellerratings.com makes it easy for people to leave negative reviews, there are thousands of sellers with 1 review, 99% of the time negative or fake.

ResellerRatings counts on the merchant to feel the urgency to pay so that other people leave good reviews that will shadow the negative one, but does not happen, real buyers don't leave reviews, they do leave product reviews, but unless is eBay, which strives on putting down its merchants promoting no product reviews but rather seller reviews, people usually don't care to leave merchant reviews, unless, again, are bad reviews.

What makes all this worst is that Google completely ignores any kind of reviews online and ONLY promotes and places ResellerReatings reviews in the very top of the search results, they could put a 24/7 ResellerRatings popup if they could. Of course, this comes at a profit cut.

Check online for any reviews and you will see that ResellerRatings ALWAYS shows on top and they usually will be negative reviews for merchants who refused to pay thousands of dollars to that crooked company, which has a lot of claims and reports in the rip-off report as well.

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by: Zojja This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 01:23:59 2015

In my beginning naïve days of selling, I gave an item to be 'reviewed.'  I will never do it again.  There are con artists around every corner wanting stuff for free.  I've even heard of people demanding free stuff and get irate when you won't do it.  Be suspicious when people ask for your most expensive item to 'review.'  Legitimate bloggers won't mind buying an item from you to rate and usually get free stuff from big, well-known companies.  Bottom line, I wouldn't count on seeing spikes in your viewership of your store or website.

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by: Katie This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jan 8 01:28:24 2015

I have given several reviews.  Didn't know I could get paid for it.
To answer the question, I would pay Michael Jordan or Whoopi, maybe Brad Pitt.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jan 8 01:43:55 2015

After years of writing reviews of books I liked on Amazon, I was offered a chance to be in the Amazon Vine program where I'm given a list of items I can choose from to read or try and then review, which has been great. I've gotten a lot of nice products in exchange for the reviews. Other businesses and authors have seen those reviews of mine and have asked me to review their items as well and in general I have been happy to do so. Once you do one review for someone, then you usually get asked again for each subsequent book. Just got a short story via Kindle today to read and review. I have no problems giving an honest opinion about a book or product, and at one point read most of a book until I just couldn't cope with the blatant pornography in it. I gave it a 1 star since there was nothing lower in Amazon and the British author took offense at my calling the book pornographic and said surely it was no worse than going to a nudist camp and I wouldn't have trouble with that would I? Not sure where he gets his ideas about what Americans are up to but he was one nutty writer.

That being said, I also sell on line and I would never send one of my products to someone wanting to volunteer to write a review in exchange for a free product! It is one thing if someone approaches you because they have seen your work, but an entirely different thing for some anonymous person to out of the blue ask for a freebie in exchange for a review. One author offer his book to a lot of people in exchange for a review and he told me only ten actually wrote the review after obtaining the book(s).

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by: I Live In An Igloo This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 03:09:55 2015

I know someone who does product reviews on her blog after receiving free samples. She is extremely thorough in her reviews, including the smallest details, and what she liked and didn't like about the item. She does tend to choose samples of product lines she's interested in, such as home education and kitchen or home items.

I've been very pleased with the thoroughness and fairness of her reviews and would recommend her in a heartbeat.

Also, she will frequently be given TWO of the same product so that she can give one away using RaffleCopter.

Additionally, she ALWAYS states in her blog whether the item she's writing about was given in order to obtain a review. She really tries to have full disclosure for her readers.

It's been very helpful to read her blog posts/reviews. It has often helped me learn about a product I didn't know of, and then add that item to my wish list.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Jan 8 10:17:07 2015

This reminds me of the Rosanne Show episode when she had the talk show and started taking advantage of the free gifts that sponsors were sending.

Like Annie, I'd have to know the credentials of the reviewer and I'd do a great deal of research on the reviewer and his/her content before I acquiesced.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 10:34:52 2015

Oh, bologna. Real reviewers don't go hitting up companies for freebies. Do you demand a free meal at a restaurant on the pretext that you're doing a ''review''?

I'm not sure that I would even respond at all to such a request, as the ''reviewer'' knows exactly what they're really doing, and so do I.

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by: Joy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 14:54:59 2015

Tomoson is where I find my bloggers to review my products.  You have to pay Tomoson a month fee, but it's well worth it.

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by: Skip This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 19:07:51 2015

It would be a good idea for someone to start a directory of a sort. This
would help companies / individuals to choose which blogger to use. Depending on product.

We would not suggest to deal with anyone into this type of scam. We have been approached several times but, ave ignored the message.  

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by: Skip This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 8 19:09:11 2015

Joy,

you should not be the one to pay for this service it should be the blogger

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by: Jcords This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 9 12:56:42 2015

In a word- NO!
I put no faith in this type of review, for if they hated the product and told the truth, the "stuff for free" train would end. So I don't even bother reading them.

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 9 17:18:01 2015

at cost?!  What lucky ducks!  I've always been demanded FREE stock for supposed "advertising", "blogging", but usually for "photography skills"!
I tell them that they've been reported for soliciting outside of the terms of the site in particular.  The truth lies in how they reply to my refusal-UGLY, really ugly!

Any of these 'reqests' are just another scam to take what isn't theirs for little or nothing!

Most sites have "feedback policies"; any negative feedback is deleted and the customer ignored!!  If REAL customers get ignored and feedback is "bought", DO NOT TRUST THE COMPANY!!

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This user has validated their user name. by: shabbychick

Fri Jan 9 22:02:48 2015

Gee, now I'm going to wonder about the reviews I read....did the blogger just write a good review in order to get more of the product? And to think that now we need a site to review reviewers and reviews of reviewer sites. Then who will review them?

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