Backpacking Dad’s Overdue Reviews: Why I Take So Long to Write a Review

03/28/2011 By Shawn Burns

I’m the worst review blogger you’ve ever met. I get pitches, I say no to many of them, but sometimes I’ll say yes. Sometimes I don’t really mean to say yes to a grand scheme pitch, just to a review, but the person I’m communicating with seems to think I want to sell their product for them. That’s almost never true, and I try to be clear about what my involvement is going to be. Sometimes I agree to do a product review, await a sample product, and am presented with a sample and a surplus, as if for a giveaway, or as if to influence the review through some kind of product remuneration. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m also very, very lazy.

All of these things combine to make me very unwilling to write up a product review, even if someone has sent a product, even if I’ve agreed to do one, even if the company has been great about the process. I have to wade through a lot of bad feelings to set fingers to keys and actually write anything up. One bad interaction with Company X can actually turn me off writing a review for a totally different company. I never realize this at the time, when I’m agreeing to Company Y’s product sample, so I’ve found myself saying yes and then just letting a product sit there, because I’m going through a “I hate all companies” phase.

On the one hand, this feels a like scamming: In some cases (though not every one) I’ve agreed to do a review, and failed to produce one, but ha-ha! I’ve gotten away with a product! On the other hand, if I don’t have anything to say about a product beyond “This interaction made me feel pretty dirty” I don’t want to write the review at all. This is different from being unwilling to write a negative review: I’ll write a negative review of a product if I don’t like it. But I feel weird about writing a negative review of an interaction if I don’t like it.

Maybe you feel differently. Maybe you feel like if a PR or marketing agency, or a brand directly, ends up pissing you off during the process of trying to get you to participate in their project, that you should have no problems at all telling the world about it, as a sort of “Here there be dragons” warning to other bloggers. I’m just not that guy. Maybe that would be a public service, but it would be a personal disservice, and I wouldn’t feel righteous about it. I prefer the silent treatment.

So, what to do? Well, I’m going to post a slew of reviews over the next week or so. I won’t tell you if the reason the review is overdue is because of a bad company interaction, or laziness, or inherited bad feeling from some other pitch. I have products I agreed to look at, and the very least I can do to make myself feel less like a scam artist is to post some thoughts about those products, even if their campaigns are long over, and even if I feel weird about the interactions I’ve had with the company or agency.

You are welcome to skip the reviews that come along; I don’t expect that you come here for reviews anyway. They’ll all be titled “Backpacking Dad’s Overdue Reviews” with some subtitle, so they’ll be easy to spot and skip if you wish to do so. Some of them might be funny; some might be informative. None, I think, will establish my reputation as a great product reviewer. But maybe they’ll establish my reputation for honesty and fair dealing.