There is a huge difference between asking people to test a product and taking their reviews for internal product development or quality assurance and soliciting and paying for product reviews on an online marketplace or consumer review aggregator.Although this is often the case, and I'm not denying that at all, it is not always the case. Try reading my reviews regarding the IBS-P01R Floating Pool Thermometer. I have been absolutely brutal on this item. Not once have they turned me away or my reviews. In fact they have welcomed my criticisms and have been working on improving this product. They did in fact "invite" me to duplicate my tests on another thermometer with some attempted improvements. I demolished that one pretty quickly. Still they welcomed my input about it and are back at the drawing board working on improvements that will stand up to what I do to it. If this extra research and development (unpaid I might add) helps Inkbird to create a superior product then that is a plus for us end users. While there are many unscrupulous venders that require a five star review to be reimbursed, not once did Inkbird designate what kind of review had to be given to them for reimbursement (and yes, you did say this). Asking for honest reviews to improve their products is a good thing and I wish other manufacturers would take note and do the same.
They are essentially paying people to post ‘verified purchase’ reviews with no mention whatsoever that the review was solicited and the reviewer compensated. And it’s not even like they reached out to people who bought their product and asked if they’d give their honest review, they are soliciting people to buy the product with their own money, requiring that they leave a ‘verified purchase’ review, and then reimbursing them for the price of the product. Its against Amazon’s ToS (in fact I think they even fine companies a substantial amount of money for doing, IIRC it’s like $10k, for the first time they get caught, the second time they get kicked off the platform - and while I didn’t report them, this is, just from what I’m aware of, their second time doing this just here on this forum), and for good reason, they are inherently dishonest, inorganic reviews. Amazon reviews aren’t used to improve products internally (I’m sure it happens, but that’s not the main purpose), they are used to sell products. And regardless if you personally have left honest reviews when you were compensated, you can’t say that compensated reviews on a product review site, especially when the compensation isn’t made clear, are honest or that they aren’t compromised.
I worked in market research for a lot of years, I wrote surveys, aggregated data, and taught interviewers how to get as unbiased data as possible, and I can tell you that the way people answer questions and the opinions they give are incredibly easy to lead or sway one way or the other, it’s almost a subconscious thing. What that experience taught me is that it is basically impossible for solicited, compensated reviews to be completely, 100% honest. I’m not saying you’re being dishonest about your perception of how you reviewed things, but I’m willing to bet that your review would not have been the same had you not been compensated. Even if the main points were the same, the way you would word it and your tone would be different. And when you’re writing reviews that other customers use to make a purchase decision, that difference in word choice or tone matters, even if the basic points of your review would’ve been the same
I don’t really know what else to say, other than I think it’s messed up that the admins here are allowing companies that sponsor the site to mine the users here for this kind of thing. And it’s something that they’ve been made aware of. The last time Inkbird was soliciting reviews like this, they sent me a PM asking if I was interested in testing their product, I said sure. Then they send me the details, and I reply that I don’t want to be involved in their scheme. I then made a post about it, and the general consensus was that it was wrong, the Admins said they would deal with it and then closed the thread. The next day I got another PM from Inkbird asking if I was still interested. So, either nothing was done, or the admins didn’t care because they were a new sponsor at the time.
I know some people will say ‘who cares, it’s a free heater’, and I get it, but it’s wrong on multiple levels, there’s just no getting around the fact that it’s an unethical practice.