I am making this post as a pseudo-response piece to the “The Painful Truth About Drawing Tablet Reviews” videos which a few Youtubers have created following Aaron Rutten’s original video on the topic.
I am writing this post because, as a tablet reviewer myself who has worked with these companies, I do not completely agree with a few of their points about what they are trying to paint as “the painful truth” about drawing tablet reviews.
I honestly just wanted to get this uncomfortable feeling off my chest where I feel they are misinforming people about these tablet review agreements. It feels like they’re pitting too much of the blame on the tablet companies for their experiences when, in my eyes, much of what they point out appears to be the reviewers responsibility (or irresponsibility).
To me, these videos which they made seem much more suitably named as a “How I Feel Tablet Companies Treat Me Badly”, rather than some kind of “painful truth” about tablet reviews.
I don’t have anything against these Youtubers, and I refer to a lot of Brad’s review videos myself, but I just really needed to put out my own thoughts on this matter somewhere.
The videos I am referring to are:
Aaron Rutten’s – The Painful Truth About Drawing Tablet Reviews
Brad Colbow’s – The Painful Truth About Drawing Tablet Reviews: Response
Crowne Prince’s – I’m Quitting: Painful Truth About Drawing Tablet Reviews
P.S. This post is a very long wall of text with no pictures. You have been warned!
Table of Contents
- Sending in Reviews For Fact Checking is Not Bad!
- You As The Review Have a Voice
- Reviewers Being Used As Testers
The biggest issue I have with these videos is that all three of these Youtubers make it sound like sending the company your full review before you publish it is a bad thing. They make it seem like every tablet company is only interested in censoring what you say in your review.
Yes, if you send your review in and they tell you to delete all the criticisms, then that’s wrong of them to do so. However, letting the company fact check your review is NOT an inherently bad thing whatsoever.
It is completely and absolutely possible that you as the reviewer have misinterpreted something, or done something unintended which caused the issues you experienced. Checking in with the company is obviously the correct thing to do if you are aiming to do your review as “correctly” as you can. As a matter of fact, it’s clearly worse to avoid consulting them before publishing your review.
Think about it. If you avoid checking in with the company before releasing your review, you are just doing your own viewers a disservice by shirking your responsibility to fact check!
I also can’t help but dislike how all three of these Youtubers make it sound like the reviewer has no voice when it comes to renegotiating the terms and conditions tablet companies offer you before they send you the tablet.
The complaints they make about these review agreements that they themselves agreed to are… odd.
-Aaron Rutten mentions a case where he received a condition along the lines of “send us your review to look at before publishing it”.
-Brad Colbow also mentions a case where he received the same condition as Aaron.
-Crowne Prince mentions a case where she was given a condition along the lines of “finish the review within 1 week of receiving the tablet”.
In all of these cases, you can decline the terms!
Unlike how these three Youtubers made it sound, many companies are open to renegotiating the terms which you found disagreeable, and that is completely your responsibility to let them know that you do not think their terms are fair for you.
If you are willing to do dishonest reviews just because you’re afraid of losing partners for your Youtube channel, you are very clearly not going to last long. The fear of losing partners is not something that should prevent you from speaking out against what you think are unfair terms.
I once reviewed a drawing monitor with the following conditions:
- Finish a review within 2 weeks of receiving the tablet.
- Allow them to troubleshoot all issues I encounter before publishing the review.
- Make a drawing specifically for the company to use in marketing/promotion/etc within 2 weeks of receiving the tablet.
Since it was a drawing monitor (which is fairly expensive), I felt this was a fair trade and agreed to this offer.
However, the next offer I received from this company was to review a screen-less tablet with the exact same conditions I received for the drawing monitor review despite this screen-less tablet being 1/4th the price of the drawing monitor.
Obviously, I felt that these terms were not fair for me for a tablet worth 1/4th the price, so I argued to them why I logically felt that I could not accept these terms.
They accepted my logical arguments and readjusted the terms to:
- Finish a review within 2 weeks of receiving the tablet.
- Allow them to troubleshoot all issues I encounter before publishing my review.
The removal of the company specific drawing made this a much fairer agreement, so I accepted these new terms.
What This Means
What I am trying to demonstrate with my example is that, you as the reviewer are the one with the responsibility to argue any terms which you logically feel are not fair.
- If Aaron and Brad felt that it wasn’t fair to show their review to the company before they published it, they should have argued against that term with a logical reason before they agreed to it.
- If Crowne Prince felt that 1 week was too short a deadline, then she should have argued for a longer deadline with why she logically needed a longer deadline.
In both cases, if the company doesn’t accept the proposed changes to the terms, then it’s completely up to the reviewer whether they accept or reject the terms that they feel are unfair for them.
Obviously, if you don’t have a logical reason to reject a term, then the tablet company will not be willing to accommodate your request to change the terms. But in the case that a company won’t give you fair terms, why should you feel any need to agree to work with such a company?
Please do not be so desperate to get free products that you agree to terms that you feel are unfair. This will just make your future dealings with that company difficult as this will just make a track record of you being very “generous” with your time and effort, so your future agreements will most likely be with similar unfair terms.
One very true fact which is brought up by these Youtubers is the fact that reviewers are being unfairly used as testers a lot of the time, and this is a problem which affects all types of reviews, not just tablet reviews in particular.
However, I do not completely agree with them even about this.
Testing is an inherent part of reviewing, and I think that we as reviewers need to be pseudo-testers who test a tablet thoroughly enough to be able to inform our viewers about all the pros and cons of a tablet.
Unfortunately, we can’t test the nitty-gritty details which we don’t understand such as the inner electronics and wiring, but if we do not test a tablet beyond what is on the product page, then we are just influencers or advertising agents. We would no longer be the reviewers we pride ourselves to be.
The Value of Time
There are certainly many cases where the amount of issues you run into and the troubleshooting you have to do is beyond what you were “paid” when you received the tablet. However, this is a very grey area which changes based on the subjective value each person puts on their time.
In my case, I do not receive any money for my reviews because this is just a hobby of mine. The only “payment” I receive for my work is the tablet itself. Because of this, it is fairly easy to calculate what I feel is fair or unfair when it comes to tablet review agreements.
In the case of decently accomplished Youtube reviewers, it is probably much harder to calculate this because they also receive “payment” through Youtube ad revenue in addition to the tablet itself.
As Youtube reviewers receive some monetary benefit from being given the chance to review a tablet, and also get the benefit of having more content to post, I feel that at least some troubleshooting can be justified as “part of the job description”. At least, up to a point.
Honestly, the problem here is the same as the last section. It’s the reviewers responsibility to make sure that they only agree to terms and conditions which they think are fair for them.
You can’t tell if a tablet is going to give you more trouble than it’s worth before receiving it, but if it does, you should bring it up with the company and tell them that you are not getting value worth your time. You should try to convince them that what you were given is not worth the amount of troubleshooting which you are having to go through, and that you would like to request reimbursement for the “overtime” which you have had to work.
In the case that the company does not agree to pay you, you have the choice and responsibility to choose whether you will continue working with them or not.
If you decide to stop working for them, they are the ones losing the tablet they sent you, and you are only losing a partner who will not “pay” you properly for your time. You are not losing anything here. As a matter fact, you would just be hurting yourself wasting your time with a company who does not value your time.
Small Blurb About Review Offers For Pre-Release Tablets
The value talk in the previous section only includes testing a product which is already released. Pre-release testing is a whole different story and it should not be called a review offer. Period.
This is because pre-release tablets will often have many bugs and issues, so what you will mainly be doing is beta testing. It is completely possible that the hardware will be changed before the official release based on your input, rendering the model you have on hand obsolete for review.
This means that you can no longer review the tablet properly because your model does not reflect the performance of the actual consumer model. Well, unless the company is will to send you the newer model as well, of course.
The many situations which these three Youtubers give in their videos are most likely true, and a lot of what they say is true about how these tablet companies will sometimes overreach to try and get the positive reactions they are looking for.
However, they are trying to throw too much of their own responsibilities as reviewers onto the tablet companies they agreed to work with.
The terms and conditions are negotiable if you have good reason to refute them. A lot of their complaints stem from the fact that they as reviewers avoided their responsibility to properly consider and revise the terms and conditions before they agreed to them.
If the terms and conditions are something that you read and agreed to, it is, without a doubt, improper business practice to break those terms and conditions willy-nilly.
It is your responsibility to follow through with what you agreed to unless there is good reason not to. A reason like “oh, I realized I don’t really like these terms after all” after the fact is extraordinarily irresponsible of you, and it is almost certain that the company will stop working with such an irresponsible individual afterwards.
Even in Brad’s case where he was asked to change parts of his review after he published it, aside from the fact that he forgot to fulfill his part of the agreement, there was most likely no clause in his review agreement which said that he couldn’t just outright reject the changes suggested to him.
Sure, the company might not like it that much that he won’t take out those points, but he just needs to logically explain to them why he can’t leave those parts out so that they can accept it. Then they might actually work on fixing those issues instead of getting angry about how Brad didn’t follow the agreement.
I often try my best to convince the companies I work with to fix all the issues I find, and I always make sure to give them proper reasons as to why I believe it’s important to fix them.
A lot of little issues are left untouched simply because the company thought it was unimportant to the general user. They are more than willing to fix these issues if you give them a good enough reason why they should fix it. They’re not going to get mad at you for criticizing something that you have good reason to criticize.
And again, if the company is unreasonable and won’t listen to logic, then you’re really not losing anything by losing them as a partner. Their products probably won’t improve since they won’t listen to criticism, so you’ll just be saved from the effort of reviewing more of their crappy products.
Perhaps I’m just biased because I’m not a Youtuber who has to “keep all the partners happy”, but I’ve honestly been as critical as I can of all the tablets I get to review and I still get review offers from these companies, so I really can’t understand why so many people agree with these Youtubers about this.
Many of these tablet companies are very reasonable, so just tell them what you don’t like about the review agreement, and if you have a valid, logical reason, they will try to work out terms that you can accept.
(Just note that it’s a bit harder to get your point across if your contact can’t speak decent English, which is the case with some lesser known companies.)
If you read the entirety of this post all the way to the bottom, hats off to you. Thanks for reading.