This is the dilemma faced by an industry stalwart who prefers – for obvious reasons – not to be named. The product and magazine reviewer in question will also remain cloaked in secrecy.
Our P&A supplier (let’s call him Mr Black) feels he’s been stabbed in the back by the reviewer (let’s call him Mr. White) and yet despite asking for redress in the following issue, Mr. Black was on the receiving end of what Mr Black claims was further sales-damaging copy.
A common problem, or a one-off? Here’s Mr Black’s side of the story:
"What are you supposed to do when you have a new product gets hung drawn and quartered by an editor who proclaims to know everything? This product works fine. In fact, in a dealer survey 100 percent of dealers said it works better than the product already on the marketplace.
"Should you moan, and maybe expect an apology? Should you bite your lip? Should you sue for damages, throwing malicious falsehood claims at the magazine publisher? Should you make public the editor’s responses to your moans and show them up to their peers asignorant and unprofessional?
"I’m not perfect. We all make mistakes, we sometimes offer duff products, journalists make editorial errors. But so long as we recognise those failings and do our best to right any wrong all should be right with the world."
But Mr. White did not right his wrongs. Far from it. And Mr. Black is not wet behind the ears.
"I have been working in the bike industry for over 20 years. I have a good technical understanding of most things on a bike, and I would say that I consider myself to be a fair and honest person, who doesn’t wish to offend good folks but the actions of [Mr White] have really shocked me.
"He wrote a product review that put over a personal opinion as some kind of pseudo-technical fact. Afet I calmly pointed out his errors he argued the toss by e-mail and phone, admitting his review was wrong from a technical standpoint. But then, in the next issue of the magazine, he wrote more rubbish, that rubbed salt into the wound.
"This second stabbing on the product contained yet more pseudo-technical information, most of which was pure ignorance, and caused yet more unnecessary harm to the product.
"This is all totally outrageous but what to do?"
Mr White has also been in touch since this article was first written. He stands by what he wrote.
Interestingly, two product reviewing journalists contacted bikebiz.co.uk wondering whether the article was about them. Only one was the real Mr White but it shows that product reviewing has many, er, grey areas.