A big part of the Kuwaiti blogosphere is product review. As well it should be. It’s important to showcase the great services and products that the local businesses in Kuwait offer. If you honestly took the time and effort to create something that is worth the hard earned money a consumer pays for it, then you deserve recognition and financial profit. And, with blogs becoming as popular as they are in Kuwait, its yet another great platform for people to know about great local businesses from voices they’re supposed to trust.
So, in theory, I’m totally on board here. In practice, I’m not exactly sure.
It’s disappointing for me to say this but I have read many, many blog posts in Kuwait which review a product/restaurant/event/whatever and give an absoultely stellar and raving review when, in reality, the item in question is nowhere near as amazing as they made it out to look like.
I’ve actually fallen for these kinds of reviews on more than one occasion. Friends of mine have also been fooled countless times. We trust the voices of the people we read on the blogs and we take their word that a certain product or service is worth our hard-earned cash. Then we show up, pay the big bucks, and are sourly disappointed.
That’s right. While the happy blogger gets freebies and cushy invites for the price of a biased, sugar-coated and, in some cases, wildly untrue review, the actual consumer bites the big one and is cheated out of spending their money on an unworthy business.
The lovely couple behind His & Hers Q8 made an awesome post about this issue. Basically, they pointed out the real flaws that exist in the Kuwaiti blogosphere today in which many bloggers, unfortunately, have taken to the habit of giving the most amazing reviews to the most undeserving products because of either greed, traditional ‘politeness,’ fear that they will lose out on sponsorships, or a mixture of all the above.
And, yes, I understand that turning your blog into a source of income is a good thing (and something that I personally hope for in the future), and I know that Arab hospitality and well-mannered traditions keep us from stating comments that are too negative. Especially if we were invited somewhere and given something for free. I get it. In fact, I would probably react in that same way if placed in that awkward situation.
But let’s be honest, guys: YOU WOULDN’T MIND STATING YOUR HONEST, SOMETIMES NEGATIVE, OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING IF YOU ACTUALLY PAID FOR IT.
And this is the reason why, up until now, I’ve been shying away from reviewing stuff in Kuwait. Not because I don’t have an opinion, because I do. But because I have no interest in leading a single reader on just because I felt bad about upsetting someone who gave me a free meal.
Example: a few months ago I attended the opening night of The Live Theater comedy club in Kuwait. I called to find out their timings and ticket prices and all that jazz. They asked why and asked if I was a member of the media and I said “No, I’m a blogger and I’m thinking of attending.” They happily and very nicely offered to give me free tickets and backstage passes to the opening night, but I respectfully declined because I didn’t want to feel like I “owed” them a good review.
And so I paid for my pricey ticket, showed up just like everyone else and watched. And, well, the review was not all that great. It’s wasn’t a complete blasting of The Live Theater, but I was honest. I talked about what I honestly liked and honestly didn’t. That’s because I paid my own hard-earned money to attend this event and I did not owe anyone but myself and the people reading the blog anything but the truth.
I later read posts by other Kuwaiti blogs who had attended the opening night on The Live Theaters dime and received backstage passes from them. They made the place sound like it was the most amazing venue Kuwait had ever seen. The reviews that I saw were so praiseworthy and complimentary that, to an unwitting and trusting reader, it would definitely sound like an experience worth spending your money on.
Well, as for me, I’m going to finally relent and actually start reviewing the products and services that Kuwait (and some other places) has to offer. But on one strict condition: I will only review things that I have paid money for. And that’s it. No matter how awesome and worthy the item may be, I will only review it if I forked over my cash in order to get it. No invites, no freebies, and no hidden motives or fears.
And this review section shall be called: Frugal Approval.
All my love!