This morning I got a personal message on Budget Light Forum from a Chinese dealer. He said he had noticed that I had written reviews of some flashlights on the dealer’s site and at the forum and would I be interested in picking some lights from a list and reviewing them to help generate interest. Free flashlights! This happens quite a bit with other people and a lot of the reviews you read, especially the really professionally written ones, will say the light is provided by a dealer or manufacturer. And then they get to keep the light. But I have never had anyone ask me to do that, even though I have written probably a dozen reviews at BLF and I always post reviews of products at the seller’s website so people will know what they are getting (believe me, the descriptions from the dealers aren’t always accurate). I wasn’t sure anything would come of it and I wondered how many other people got the same PM, though he did actually link to three lights that I had reviewed.
Then tonight, I got a response and a list of about 20 different lights and he said I could pick 1 or 2 that I would like to review. Now we’re talking! There were some bike lights, a diving light, some big lights, and a couple of little lights that take AAA batteries. I found six lights that looked interesting and told the dealer that he could pick 1 or 2 of those. I gave him a pretty good variety. I think only one of the lights was over $25, though the list had a couple that were more expensive than what I picked. I wanted to pick something I would be interested in because when you review something you wouldn’t pick out, you end up saying “I guess this would be okay for someone who wanted this.” You get detached from it. If these don’t measure up, I will be disappointed.
He also asked if I would post some topics about any of the lights while I waited on my package. I said I wouldn’t do that, and would only review the lights with my honest opinion. He said that was okay and he would mail me two lights.
There is an ethical question of whether a review can be honest if the reviewer is being compensated with a free light. But I’m so completely unethical that I leave affiliate links in my reviews, so that if people buy them, I will get a commission. Honestly, even if they don’t have an affiliate program, I will link to the light in case people want to buy it or check it out, but if they have an affiliate program, then I might as well get something for my trouble. So I don’t think I am really unethical, though some discussion pointed out that people should know when there is an affiliate link or when someone gets a free light for a review, so I try to do that.