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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
15 Oct 2013