February 2nd, 2010

Full Disclosure

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The Federal Trade Commission recently revised their “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials” to encourage bloggers who review products to discolose if they received the products for free when making a favorable review.    Breaking these new rules could result in fines or other liability.  These guidelines were developed specifically for bloggers who participate in pay-per-review programs.  Given these new guidelines, I feel it’s important to clarify my stance on this topic.

It is rare that I review or discuss a product that we don’t carry.  I define “carry” as product that we have purchased at wholesale to sell at retail.  Occasionally I may reference a yarn that is used in a project in a magazine or book that we don’t carry, but that is about the extent of it.

We often receive advance samples of yarns – some that we buy, some that we don’t.   Again, it’s rare that I would reference a yarn on the blog that I was sent for free, as a sample to consider for purchase.  It’s not out of the realm, just not common.

As for books, I receive a lot of advance copies of books.  We are on what is called “autoship” for pretty much every new book that is published meaning we have a standing order for X copies of each new book.  They are automatically sent to us and we are charged for them.  The advance copies I receive are free but ultimately our autoship arrives and we then sell the purchased copies at retail.  I may review or discuss a book in advance of our autoship, based on the advance copy I received.

Going forward I will notate in my posts if any products I am talking about are products I received for free or as an advance sample and whether we will be carrying the product for resale, if it’s not in stock already.

I have never reviewed or discussed any products on this blog for payment nor can I imagine a time when I would do that.  If that ever were to happen, I would disclose that information.

I do not view the sending of advance copies or samples as compensation.  There is no expectation by any of our partners that I will discuss or review their products here on the blog nor do I feel any obligation to do so.  If I do discuss a product, I do not feel any obligation to write positively about the product unless I genuinely feel that way.

This policy is less applicable to this blog as it’s associated with our retail business.  Still, I wanted to state my position so that you were all clear.  This blog is a very positive place – I like to talk about yarns and books and products that I like, if not love.

Now, back to our regular programming.  Wait until you see the new Malabrigo yarn that came in today!  It will be up on the website tomorrow!  More then!  Plus I’m going to be announcing a great new contest!

Kathy

  • knitventures

    I would imagine that this is a huge issue in other industries (like cosmetics or electronics).

  • GinkgoKnits

    Thank you for being up front! There are a number of knitting blogs where it is sometimes hard to know how much the blogger/designer would like a yarn if she had to pay for it and a lack of disclosure makes it all the more confusing. A retail blog is a bit different (I assume one reason to blog is to promote products at Webs that you are fond of) but being open and honest is much appreciated regardless of your blog category.

  • http://www.yarn.com/ kathy

    I agree with both comments below. I do think this is a bigger issue in other industries but our lovely yarn world is not immune. I also agree that it is different that my/our blog is affiliated with a retail business but at the same time I felt strongly that I should state my position on this topic so there wouldn't be any questions. Thanks to you both for your comments!

  • Danielle

    Based on what I have read before it seems that you have violated these rules countless times. I have been a shopper with you for years but I have never understood why you try to paint your company as a family oriented one when you are clearly a corporation in sheep's clothing.

  • KathyElkins

    Danielle – I clearly state my position on this issue. These “rules” didn't exist for me or any other blogger in our industry (or any other industry) up until this year so I'm not sure how I violated them “countless times”. Quite honestly it is less of an issue for me as I stated because 99% of products I discuss are products I have purchased at wholesale for retail – they have not been given to me for free. Quite honestly any advance samples of books, accessories or yarns are merely a convenience. Most are either donated to a local community organization or used as part of a larger donation for a fundraising event or for a staff giveaway.

    I don't “paint” our business as family oriented – it is a family owned and operated business. Steve & I run the day to day operations with a very capable staff. We may be a lot bigger than when the business was started in my MIL's basement nearly 36 years ago but Steve & I are as involved now as my MIL was back in the day. I'm surprised that with such a negative perception you still shop with us.