I hope it's fairly obvious, but several of the products and services I mention and review on Cyclelicious I've received either free or at a discount. I make it clear that there's no guarantee of a favorable mention when I'm given things to review, and my general policy has been to highlight the superlatives on truly good products, to give just the facts on mediocre things, and to blatantly ignore the truly bad things I've gotten. If I don't think I'll can give a good review I'll decline the product.
The Taiwan Bike Trip, for example, was almost entirely free. Air travel was courtesy of China Airlines. The entire tour package -- including hotel stay, travel on Taiwan, bike rental, museum and park entrance fees, and most meals -- was arranged by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and Giant Bicycles. They're working to promote bike tourism in Taiwan for both domestic and international travelers, and I have to say they've done a marvelous job. I'd visit Taiwan for a vacation again in a heartbeat, and the cost of the tour package (under $2,000) seems fairly reasonable to me.
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I have to say you are not doing your readers any service when you "blatantly ignore the truly bad things".
Pointing us away from junk is sometimes more valuable than pointing us towards the good stuff.
Michael and Anonymous may have a point, but remember that this blog isn't entirely for our benefit. It's also for his benefit. Companies are often reluctant to continue providing samples to reviewers that will bash a product.
He does us a benefit by telling us about the good stuff; he does himself a benefit by ignoring the crap.
The new FTC disclosure rules are scheduled to begin Dec. 1 but how are readers to know what isn't disclosed? Bloggers will also have to disclose any gifts they receive since the free merchandise counts as compensation. Sounds like the new rules are designed to keep corporations from pushing their products but once again we are venturing into a large grey area.
@Mark - Outdoor Demo East begins Thursday in Providence, RI.
I don't get free bikes for review. Those are short term review units at the most.
A lot of the review items I receive are given away.
@Jack - I have gotten lazy and cut and pasted marketing copy, but in those instances I stick with the factual statements (e.g. weight, colors and sizes) and include the weasel words "According to the manufacturer...."
Like Cafiend, no one gives me squat, well almost no one. There is a site that does gear reviews that I sometimes contribute that's on his site -- I will let him deal with all that mumbo jumbo.
Any links to these new FTC rules?
While we are on the topic of disclosure, not sure how you work this out but I think you have to pay taxes on the value of the trip unless of course you can work it into the business of the blog.
Oh, I'd love to hit the Providence gig but way tooo busy at work these days. But you have a good point, maybe I should make up cards to hand out from time to time. Rather than a business card, I think a CycleSnack.com spoke card would be more appropriate.