Profit By Cheating – The Belkin Story?
Talk about a story that’s taking on a new life. Belkin International, a company that makes technology products, has now come under serious scrutiny. This is because one of their employees was caught paying for reviews of products on eBay, whether they had ever seen the product or not. Yeah, there’s something drastically unethical with that.
Of course, Belkin came out with a disclaimer just as quick; this is that disclaimer:
Belkin has always held itself to the highest standards of corporate ethics and its employees to the highest standards of personal integrity. Similarly, we support our online user community in discussion and reviews of our products, whether the commentary is good or bad. So, it was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment.
Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened.
We want to stress that this is an isolated incident and to re-instill trust with you, we have taken the following courses of action:
– We’ve acted swiftly to remove all associated postings from the Mechanical Turk system.
– We’re working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed.
It’s also important to recognize that our retail partners had no knowledge of, or participation in, these postings.
Once again, we apologize for this occurrence, and we will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost.
So, all will be forgiven, and it’ll be business as usual, right? Well, not so fast. At the same time as that statement was coming out, a present employee of Belkin, obviously anonymously, was outing the company, writing such lines as these:
“While never mentioned in an “official” policy, for years it has been pressed upon ALL Belkin employees to do whatever is needed to get good product reviews and good press. Everything from sending blog writers a device with custom firmware that hides known bugs yet claiming it to be official release firmware, faking hardware logo certifications (specifically Apple and MSFT), releasing blatantly inaccurate data from test results making our devices look superior to others, to placing “tailored” reviews of our products into places visible to consumers (as reported Amazon, etc), as well as writing poor reviews of competitors products.”
“We have paid magazines for positive reviews, made custom devices or fixtures for use at trade shows to ensure quality demos.”
“In fact, our products are such junk, when an internal survey was done, it was found that the majority of Belkin employees purchased competitors products for home use, even with ours being offered free, as they are of such poor quality.”
Well, this is intriguing, and that last line is something entirely different. We all love picking on Microsoft operating systems as being insufficient whenever we get them, but the truth is that we all know that Microsoft is trying to give us ultimate quality, as much as they can, and that they’re certainly not out there paying anyone to say nice things about them just to get over on the public. In this case, if the first statements about paying for good reviews isn’t bad enough, paying for good reviews on products that the company knows aren’t good at all is troublesome.
If it’s true, and that’s always the big story. I’ve never purchased a Belkin product, but I’ve always been warned away from them by people who consider themselves as in the know. You can bet many of them are saying “I told you so” today after all of this has come to the forefront. Financially, who knows if this will hurt Belkin, since they’re a privately held company, not on the NYSE. However, if their reputation among the “geek squads” was already bad, this certainly won’t help.
Also, if it’s true, what does it say about other companies that get reviews on their products in paid circumstances? This is the type of thing that could bring in to question every single review that’s ever been written about anything. And, isn’t this another way of gaming the system and manipulating the finances, especially if the products are intentionally deficient?
If you’d like to read the entire post where I got this person’s quotes from, go here. Personally, I’m sick of reading about things like this. It’s not quite a Ponzi Scheme, and it’s not quite lying about the books and financial stability of the company, but it’s right up there. I think there should be an investigation; there probably won’t be. What do you think about this?