No, You Don’t

May 17th, 2010

(or: Yes, You can)

Carrie Ann wrote an interesting post on her blog about how reviewers feel a sense of entitlement. Ignoring the fact that everyone feels entitlement in every aspect of life, I agree with some of her points. A little bit of patience and letting things slide goes a long way in our reviewer-retailer relationships (and our personal relationships, too!). Bitching about every little thing has never done me good. These days, I find myself being a more patient person in many areas of my life.

What’s more, I understand that the service offered to me by retailers and manufacturers is simply that, a service offered to me. They don’t have to do it (and some stores haven’t taken me on as a reviewer), and I appreciate it. I am always grateful to get toys and recognition for my reviews but I know these relationships are business relationships.

The bottom line is, these are businesses and they can do what they want. They can ignore my e-mails or any feedback I give. They can be snotty. They can send me good toys or crap toys or no toys at all. They can choose not to work with me. They can choose to be friendly and understanding or they can harass me and delay shipping or jump up and down on my boxes before handing them off to the mailman. They can terminate or suspend our relationships at any point. They can ban my account from their website. Hell, they could even ask me to not post a review, I suppose, if they weren’t happy with the way I write it.

They can do these things.

They don’t have to do anything I want them to do. They don’t even have to be courteous. But it’s good practice to do so anyway (dare I say “should?). You know the old saying “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” And it’s true. Just because you can do things without explaining to your community or customers, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can rule with an iron fist doesn’t mean you’ll have a kingdom worth ruling. Just because you can outsource your tech support to India, does not mean you should (I MEAN IT!)

No retailer owes me anything but it’s just plain stupid to expect that someone who critiques products on the internet isn’t going to speak up when services, policies, interactions or other experiences can use a little critiquing. Which is exactly why extending common courtesy to your reviewers is a good idea. I can post my thoughts on my website and publish it for the world to see. Short of legal action, you can’t stop me.

It doesn’t mean I will, especially if you have made it clear that you’re not an all-powerful being without fault. Maybe you’re just a business made up of imperfect humans like myself (not that I am several people). Give a little, get a little back, right? I’m much more likely to be understanding if the folks I work with have shown me the same understanding in the past. That can be the difference between me taking a positive spin on a “crisis” or calling for your company to be damned.

And I’m sure it’s a fine line to walk. You’ve got to look out for your bottom line but you don’t want to alienate the people who have the power to help that bottom line. You want to protect the community but not everyone in the community wants protecting or agrees about how you should go about it.

But if you don’t find yourself at least trying to walk that line, you might find yourself in an even more uncomfortable situation. Like it or not, the things you “don’t have to do,” are the very same things that people are looking for. I know; it’s the reason I’m getting divorced.

6 Comments to “No, You Don’t”

  • Sarahbear says:

    Very good points. Excellent, really.

    I was also thinking that we’re also offering retailers a service in exchange for goods. We review their product on our blog and it’s an advertisement of their company that will remain on our blog for as long as we keep our blog up and will be seen by hundreds or thousands of people depending on our traffic. So it’s not like the companies are just letting us review out of the goodness of their hearts. They benefit from that deal as well.

  • Elodie says:

    What Sarahbear said.

    Reviewing sex toys is a labor of love. Until you get into at least the $100 range, the amount of money the toys themselves are worth isn’t very good pay for freelance writing. It’s a reciprocal relationship, not a favor the toy companies provide. And they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make them money.

    • Adriana says:

      Yes, but most of us are not “pro” freelance writers. I’m not sure that analogy works very well here. Hell, I’m freelancing right now to pay my bills and I’m still generally making less than the exact dollar amount a toy is worth.

      Either way, I don’t know how much money I may or may not be giving to a company (most companies probably don’t know either) and I’m not going to say “Listen to me ’cause I bring you customers.” I am going to say that not listening to me will make you look like a douche, however.

      • Elodie says:

        Yeah, I probably didn’t phrase it all that well. It’s just, the idea that a company doesn’t owe anything to the community, no matter what that community is, ticks me off.

        • Adriana says:

          At the end of the day, they don’t owe us anything and I recognize that but it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to give us a few things (like common courtesy) anyway.

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