I am a 2-wheel nut. I’ve been riding bicycles since I could walk, and riding & racing motorcycles on and off-road (motocross) for nearly that long. My two wheel excursions these days revolve around my more sedate vintage Honda CR450 Cafe bike, and my Trek 5000 bicycle.
I did my 25 mile commute to work by bicycle for a couple of years, but commuting was a hassle on my ‘racing style’ Trek 5000 with its lack of commuting amenities, so I ended up stopping commuting by bike and using my lunch hour for bike rides instead. I’ve been missing bicycle commuting lately, and have been wanting to do longer distance rides for fun, so I decided I wanted a bicycle with a high level of performance, able to do both pavement and dirt roads, and possessing practical features like lights, fenders, racks, and a handlebar bag as standard. In other words, I wanted something more practical and more comfortable for real-life rides or a trip to the grocery store, like a classic randonneur bike such as an Alex Singer or a Rene Herse. To that end I’ve been trying to get smart about what the state of randonneur bikes is these days, and have been out reading the blogs like Jan Heine’s Off the Beaten Path or the Lovely Bicycle! to get up to speed.
While reading the Lovely Bicycle! I was particularly impressed with her disclosure statement regarding reviews, so I decided I should post something similar so everyone knows what goes on with my reviews for Positive Feedback Online and everything that appears here at Jeff’s Place. Why? Because I think transparency is important to integrity.
I write about a variety of items here at Jeff’s Place: Hi-Fi gear & accessories mostly, recorded music, some fotografie stuff, some travel stuff, and a little about other stuff. It’s my ‘just for fun’ blog, and it has no advertising or commercial intent. In my About page I said that my intention was to provide readers with interests like mine additional information, thoughts, reflections, and other things that don’t fit into reviews of Hi-Fi gear that I write for Positive Feedback Online. I said, “I write about Hi-Fi and photography out of enthusiasm because they’re my hobbies, not as a source of income, which is provided by my day job. I receive no stream of income from my hobbies, in fact it’s just the opposite, money flows out of my pocket because of them – not in! So if I say I like a piece of Hi-Fi or camera gear it is purely because I like it and would recommended it to friends of like tastes.”
So when I write about something, whether it’s here at Jeff’s Place or at Positive Feedback Online, what you read will be informative, entertaining (hopefully), and will honestly reflect my experience with whatever is being written about up to the time it goes into print, both good and bad. I will do my best to tell you a product’s level of performance, its strengths and weakness, in the context of my system and tastes as best I see it.
We’re all in this journey together, learning as we go. Sometimes that means I’ll get it wrong: I might realize too late that a manufacturer has poor skills dealing with its customers, or has poor customer service, or there is poor quality that didn’t come to light during a review, or is just generally a dick-head, or something else. Sometimes what I value in the hierarchy of all things audio will change. For those items I have for the long haul I will share further impressions here at Jeff’s Place about them as well, in order to try to give you an idea about my long-term owner-satisfaction, product reliability, customer service relations, new insights, or whatever comes to mind.
I don’t accept payment from manufacturers for ‘good’ reviews. When a manufacturer suggests something like that I ‘educate’ them that I consider payment to be inappropriate, and that all of my reviews are based on a product’s own merits. It’s performance in my system, according to my tastes, is what I write about. If a manufacturer is not comfortable with that level of risk that implies they should go elsewhere. I know that in some other countries/cultures it is considered normal to pay writers for a positive review, and it is looked upon like advertising by both writers and manufacturers. But that’s not the way I do things.
I didn’t get paid one cent for the many reviews I wrote for 6Moons by Srajan, I did it completely as a hobbyist. I do now get paid $50 per review for my articles at Positive Feedback Online. I used to not let PFO pay me, but I eventually relented because it’s a hassle for their bookkeeper that way. The last $50 I earned for writing a review I donated to Jaime Escalante Elementary School to help with buying school cameras for the kids there. Dave Clark works there as a 6th-grade teacher, and it is an inner-city public elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, located in the city of Cudahy, “which has the distinction being noted as the poorest ‘per-capita’ city West of the Mississippi (2000 US Census).” Dave spends his own money to help the kids out, and some of us audio nuts are trying to help out as we can too, so thus the donation. If you think you’d like to help out too you can read more about it here.
So like the Lovely Bicycle! blogger who inspired me, here’s the disclosures I am going to start including in all my posts here at Jeff’s Place from now on:
- “I purchased the product” means I purchased whatever it is I am writing about with my own money, just like you would. For most of my posts that means I paid retail for it. As a member of the Hi-Fi industry – as a writer/reviewer – I can sometimes buy gear at an ‘industry’ rate (usually a 10-50% discount). When I have bought something at industry accommodation pricing it has been when there is no review of the product involved, or the review has already gone live, with the idea being that there is no incentive for the manufacturer to buy favor from me for a good review by offering me a low price. Rather, their pricing to me is the same sort of price they sell a product to a dealer for, which is where the ‘industry’ moniker comes from. When manufacturers sell me something at industry pricing I usually have to agree to a non-disclosure agreement about the price, because they don’t want it known what their wholesale pricing structure is. So don’t bother asking me what I paid for it, because I can’t tell you without getting my butt in a jam. Sometimes I also have to agree to keep a product for a year before I decide to sell it, which manufacturers think protects their retailers from the negative optics that I didn’t like the product enough to keep it for long (there is nothing I own that falls into this category at the moment). Fair enough.
- “I received the product as part of an equal value exchange” means that I received the product in exchange for services, like for “advertisement or photography” as the Lovely Bicycle! blogger says on her site. This has happened once in the past when I wanted to buy the Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers that I was so enamored with after I reviewed them for 6Moons. This was towards the end of my time writing for 6Moons, after having written many, many, articles for free. Srajan, knowing that I wanted to buy them, and unbeknownst to me, had worked a deal behind the scenes to trade the Harbeths for advertising on his site. Then he gave me the speakers as a surprise as a way of thanking me for all the gratis writing I did for his site. That was damn nice of Srajan to do that for me, he essentially bought them for me with his advertising as payment, because advertising on his site is how he makes his livelihood. I doubt an ‘equal value exchange’ will ever happen again, as there’s no advertising on my blog, but there you have it – full disclosure.
- “I received the product for review” means I’ve got a product in for review and I intend on returning it once the review has concluded.
- “I have the product on long-term loan after the review” means that the manufacturer has allowed me keep using the product after the review. I do not own the product, cannot sell the product, and the manufacture is free to ask for the product back at any time and have it picked up. Or I’m free to ask the manufacturer to pick it up when I’m no longer using it. Sometimes the manufacture abandons the product in place after the review or when I ask them to pick it up. So I’ll ask them to pick it up, but because it is not worth it to them to pay for the costs of shipping it back, they abandon it in place and tell me to do what I want with it. If that’s the case, I keep using it, keep it as an alternate reference for reviews, or I give it away to a someone who would like to have it. I never sell something that has been abandoned in place.
- “I was given the product” means that someone gave me the product to write about (or not) with no expectations on getting it back. This rarely happens, and it’s usually something cheap. I keep hoping Porsche will want to give me a Cayman to write about with no expectation of wanting it back, but it hasn’t happened yet (alert: attempt at humor).
So that’s how things are done a Jeff’s Place.
Thanks for stopping by.