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Editorial Policies

 

 

Thank you for your further interest in our website.

We've built up a valuable reputation for being straightforward and honest and in this spirit set out answers to all the questions you might have wondered about but were too polite to ask!

Editorial Policy

The editorial opinions in our weekly newsletter and our feature articles are freely offered without fear or favor.  They can not be bought and they are not sold.

This is why we don't hesitate to challenge conventional wisdom, and why we don't hesitate to truly and bluntly describe products and services exactly as we find them - good, bad, or simply ordinary.

Having said that, like any other publishing enterprise, be it a newspaper, magazine, television station, or website, we have costs to meet and must generate income from this website.  Like these other entities, we have both editorial and business matters, and, as is usually the case elsewhere too, we keep the two issues carefully separated.

Our prime goal is to provide interesting and helpful information and free of charge to you, our visitors.  This is not just altruism.  This is common sense.  Without visitors, we have nothing, and if we have no quality content, we don't have visitors.  We must ensure that everything we publish meets your high standards and encourages you to keep visiting.  And because we have no complementary print publication, we can't charge a fee or restrict access to our content - if we did that, the search engines couldn't index our pages and no-one would ever find us.

We advise you of the following so you understand exactly how we handle the twin demands of fair unbiased reporting and commercial necessity.

Review Considerations

Some of the products and services we review have been supplied to us for free, either on a temporary loan basis, or permanently.  Others are made available at reduced rates, and some we pay full price for.

Getting product at reduced rates enables us to provide you with information we otherwise couldn't provide.  For example, our luggage review series involved using and damaging the better part of $3000 worth of luggage - it would not have been financially feasible to do this if we had to pay full retail for every piece of luggage profiled.

Some products and services that we receive free of charge we never publish a review on at all.  We do this for various reasons, including the simple fact that we're often awash with story ideas and unable to write up every item we get to see and trial.  Other times, we end up deciding there is nothing interesting about the product - if we have a choice between writing about surprising and unexpectedly good (or sometimes bad!) products that you'll like, find helpful, and which you probably don't already know about, or writing about well known products that offer nothing new which you don't already know or expect, our choice is obvious.

Or how about the Cool-it Chiller.  A $40 product that was tremendously appealing in theory and which had received dozens of positive reviews in traditional media outlets.  We were apparently the only reviewer to actually take the unit out of its box and test it, and then to fearlessly report that - ooops - contrary to all the reviews in the major namebrand publications, it didn't actually cool down drinks in the real world.

Affiliate Income

Sometimes we choose to join a supplier's 'affiliate' referral program.  One of the best known of these is operated by Amazon.com - everytime you click on a link from our site to Amazon's site and then buy something, we earn a referral fee.  In Amazon's case, these referral fees range from close to 1% up to about 7%, and most commonly are about 4% - 5%.

This referral income we receive costs you nothing.  The price you are shown and the price you pay is the same, whether you travel to the supplier's website via a link on our site or any other way.  So we hope you don't begrudge us this, and we also hope you do occasionally click and purchase from such links on our site.

Sometimes we have been able to turn around and use the fact that we've been referring a reasonable number of people to a supplier's site as a bargaining lever, and thereby talk the supplier into offering a discount to our visitors.  In some cases, we also receive an affiliate fee ourselves, and in some other cases, we don't.

We consider situations where you get a discount, we get a referral fee, and the supplier gets a new customer as the ideal win-win-win situation for all of us.  We wish there were more such opportunities out there for us all!

Are there commercial impacts on our reviews?

Stated simply and accurately, commercial considerations completely do not influence our reviews.  We choose the products we review based on what interests us, on what we feel will interest our readers, and on what it is practical for us to obtain (so, alas, we're not likely to be reporting on what it is like to charter a private business jet from coast to coast any time soon).  We then write about our impressions based solely on the reality of our experiences.

Have a look at our reviews - in some cases, they are harshly negative about products that we could earn affiliate fees from (eg the Lingo Pacifica translator).  In other cases, we write more positively about products we don't earn any affiliate fees from (eg preferring the Ety Com headset to the Boom headset).  And in still other cases, we write about trivial trinkets that cost very little and which would make us next to no money, whether we praise them or not, and whether we get referral fees or not (eg the Search Alert suitcase locks).

Compare our reviews to those often found in glossy magazines, where they like all products almost identically, and never have a harsh word to say about any, and it should be obvious to you that we say what we think, without constraint or fear of upsetting suppliers.

Interestingly, this freedom also allows us to say nicer things about some products than what more constrained publications might choose to do.  We feel completely free to pick and choose favorites, something that more commercially oriented publications are reluctant to do, because choosing a favorite upsets all the other suppliers of similar products.  Our strong praise for some products does not show bias caused by commercial considerations, but actually quite the opposite.

As we said before, it is essential for us that our content be of the highest standard.  We can not and will not compromise that principle.

Advertising

We also feature advertising on the website.  Most of this advertising is provided by Google, but some comes from other sources.  We sometimes earn advertising income simply from having advertisements display on the page; other times we earn income only if you click on one of the ads or if you buy something from the advertiser's website.

Much of the time we have no control over what ads are displayed on the pages by the automatic advertising programs.  If there is an ad you find particularly objectionable, please let us know and we'll see if we can blacklist it from appearing.

We also limit the style of advertising.  We refuse to allow popups, popunders, or other intrusive types of advertising that interfere with your ability to simply read our content.

Travel and Touring

We generally base our travel and touring reviews on the basis of personal experience after anonymously experiencing the products ourselves so as to get the most accurate impression of typical service standards.

We occasionally offer small group tours to our readers, usually with me (David) hosting.

In such cases, we receive commissions on some (but not all) of the products included in the tours and our selling price includes a margin for ourselves, both to cover our costs and hopefully to allow for a small profit, too.  We choose the hotels and other inclusions based on what we think best for the tour, and because we're on the tours ourselves, you can be sure we make these decisions carefully and correctly.

Your Help is Still Needed

The preceding detailed discussion might make you think that we're talking about earning large sums of money from our various entrepreneurial activities.  Alas, we're not!

We necessarily rely on reader contributions to make up the shortfall between our costs and the need to earn a fair income from our commitment to this site.

Please visit our 'Help this Site' page and consider adding your own small contribution to those from other readers.  It is truly appreciated and very helpful.

 

Last update 15 Oct 2013

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