Recently I was in contact with a company who agreed to a review and giveaway of their product, I received their package on Saturday and it came with not one, but two of them. hmmm.....I was pretty sure they were attempting to send me the giveaway as well!!! I sent a quick email asking if they had intended to send me two and yes, in fact, they just emailed me to say it was for the giveaway. Ugh!!!! we are talking about something the size and weight of a laptop computer here!!! there is no way I can afford to ship a product like that- anywhere!! I have written a response, but would love love love some feedback before sending it his way. I'm going to take out the products name to protect the company at this point.
Here is my response-
please be aware that it is not common practice to have bloggers pay for shipping costs when promoting your company through reviews and giveaways. You mentioned you had experience working with bloggers in the past so I did not foresee this problem. As you are aware, I am a stay at home mom- which essentially translates into 'I do not have an income'. There is no way that I have the financial means to pay for shipping costs to winners out of my own pocket. Keep in mind that I receive no monetary value for writing reviews and hosting giveaways. While it can be a perk to receive products for testing purposes, I would not be able to write an honest review without it. Additionally, the product provides some compensation for the time and effort it takes to test-drive the product, research a company, write a thoughtful review and then host a giveaway for you - which entails advertising your product and your company anywhere and everywhere I can to generate exposure for you. It is unfair to ask me to incur the cost of shipping of any product let alone something the size and weight of a ******. Instead of shipping it across the country to me, it would have been best for you to wait until you had the winner's name and address and sent the board directly to them. My family and I have really enjoyed trying out the ******* and I am very excited to write a positive review of it for you. I think you have a wonderful product. The only thing I do not think is wonderful is expecting me to pay to ship the *****. Can you imagine if I did this for every company I worked with? I would not be able to afford to feed my children! In order for me to be able to provide social media advertising on your company's behalf, you must be willing to take responsibility for costs associated with the giveaway. Sorry for the misunderstanding Jennifer http://momvstheboys.blogspot.com/
There are lots of companies that want you to send the product to the winner yourself. In their mind, they are absorbing the cost of sending you a free item plus a giveaway item so it's not unreasonable for you to ship it to the winner yourself. Did you specifically tell them to send the prize themselves or did you just assume that's what they were going to do?
If not, you are responsible for forwarding it along.
I think I would also ask them to pay for you to ship it back to the company and if they would still like to do a giveaway you would be happy to do it as long as they agree to ship the product. I would also say (this is completely up to you) that if they aren't interested in the giveaway that I will still do the review.
What's funny is there are lots of bloggers who do PAY for shipping. I'm part of another review group and had the same thing happen. However, the product is small and won't cost much to ship so I'm okay with it. When I asked, other bloggers said they were used to shipping the giveaway prizes but to always be sure to tell the company your policy up front. I was shocked that these people could afford to be so nice..LOL. So now I try to be sure and stipulate my giveaway rules before they ship me anything.
I don't know why anyone would use their families income to promote a company that probably makes millions. If you worked for an employer and they asked you to advertise for them with your own money would you???? I hope not. It sounds to me like companies are taking advantage of bloggers by expecting them to incur expenses associated with giveaways. If they are not willing to pay for their own social media advertising than they shouldn't do it. how can they expect a stay at home mom to pay with her own money to promote their company? seriously, just because they sent you a free sample of their product does not justify this. It takes money to ship items, not free samples.
am I way off base here?
I don't really think it's fair to want it both ways. As a blogger who does product reviews, you're in fact offering a business a service which makes you a business. Just because you're a stay at home Mom doesn't mean what you're doing isn't a business. Many bloggers receive income from what they do in turns of Adsense, Affiliate Programs, Google, Advertising, sales, etc. and this is just another type of business expense. You may not see it that way but as a business owner, they probably are used to working with other businesses & that's probably how they see it.
If it's that much against your principals then you (not you specifically) need to put something in every request you make that states "I will not be responsible for shipping the prize to the giveaway winner." If you don't put that in there, you can't expect them to read your mind when many bloggers will ship prizes.
even if I did see my blog as a business (which I don't,it's a personal blog not a review blog) wouldn't it be like they were hiring me to provide an advertising service for them? and shouldn't they be the ones to pay for their own advertising?
I work hard for companies to provide a decent review and advertise the giveaway around the blogosphere to ensure a good response. I feel I am compensated for the time it takes, to do this by receiving the product for review. For someone to pay to do the shipping, it would be like paying companies to do their advertising for them and that doesn't seem right to me.
stay at home mom or millionaire mama, if a company wants me to work for them, than I do feel like it is their responsibility to pay the shipping fees no the other way around.
I think they are just as responsible for the misunderstanding as I was (and yes, I do take half) when they 'assumed' I would be willing to throw away my own money to benefit their company (too harsh? lol) I will make it crystal clear in the future when setting up reviews and giveaways, but for now I have to deal with this.
Thanks for your great feedback though, I appreciate it, and it's exactly what I wanted- honest opinions!
I guess the only thing to do is to make sure in the future you spell it out for them. While I do occasionally pay postage for prizes, I prefer not to & always ask the company to send it directly to the winner. They don't always listen though.
that was my intention that if I shipped it and sent them the receipt they would reimburse me the cost, but I sent them the letter and they were really great about it, we have come up with a great solution to the problem that I am even more excited about!!
I'm glad I was brave enough to come right out and say how I was feeling, I was scared and worried to do it, but I felt I needed to stand up for myself and I'm really happy I did. It was a learning experience for sure, and I will take what I have learned and make sure it doesn't happen again.
a positive outcome!
thanks for all your awesome thoughts and opinions! I'm so glad to have a sounding board here!!! much appreciated!
I'm glad we have a happy ending! It just reiterates my feelings on certain things. Sometimes the thing we are most scared of actually is pretty easy and has a happy ending. I got to remember that more often!