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When Good Product Reviews Go Bad

One of the biggest perks of blogging—for me, anyway—is getting to do product reviews. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to receive more goodies than I ever thought possible: food, games, beauty, supplements, clothes, books, kid’s stuff, Judaica, decor, etc. (Honestly, the list is wild!)

Because I’m often stuck at home due to chronic pain and other health problems, finding a package waiting on the door step is quite often the high point of my day. In fact, there are days when I feel so crummy, it may be the only good thing!

I know that some bloggers become very apathetic over time, so used to the freebies that they start to feel entitled. I’ve always been the exact opposite. Every single time I open a surprise, I feel such excitement! Sure, it’s nothing earth shattering, but I enjoy it and I feel blessed by it.

Not every item I receive, of course, is wonderful. Most are decent, and when they’re not, I have made it a rule not to write negative reviews and trash companies for no reason. Just because the product isn’t to my liking doesn’t mean it’s bad for everyone, after all. 

This week, I had two reviews, which I expected to be 5-star, end up being a complete disaster. 

The first involved a meal delivery service that focuses on weight loss. They send out a month’s worth of frozen food that is supposed to produce great results. Obviously, free food is hugely popular and gaggles of bloggers applied. I felt so honored to be included and had already started outlining my blog posts and some recipes that would work. When the box actually showed up, it was not what I expected. I always communicate carefully with food companies about my dietary restrictions. Most will immediately let me know if it’s a problem. I hadn’t heard anything, so it was pretty surprising when an assortment of pork ribs, pork sausage, bacon, cheesy chicken, and shrimp arrived! 

Aside from the frozen veggies, plain eggs, and some plain fish fillets, I didn’t find any of it appealing. Mind you, this box was the size of a small coffin and retailed for over $300.00. I felt so horribly guilty for not wanting it and also for not being able to review it. The company, to their credit, was extremely gracious and took the blame. I’m not sure where the error was along the line, but it’s not cheap for them to send out food boxes that don’t generate good publicity. 

So, that made me feel terrible….

Then, there was the scarf incident. How can a scarf review possibly go wrong, you might ask? When the company presumes you will wear it as a head covering rather than as a fashion accessory! I have no problem with ladies who want to cover their hair, but that is something I will not do, nor is it something I advocate. I come from a Reform Jewish background and nobody in my community wears scarfs, or wigs, or hats for religious reasons. Evidently, the sender mistakenly thought I was Orthodox, maybe because she is Orthodox. I am not. After 5 very contentious emails with the scarf’s creator, she not only criticized me for showing my hair, she also was upset that I wouldn’t wear it just for a promotional picture. 

Could I have taken the picture to please her? Sure, but it wouldn’t be authentic and my readers know that. I have spent years discussing my beliefs and habits and building up trust with my audience. I talk about coloring my hair, what I’ll pay for a hair cut, and constantly feature hair care items I buy with coupons. None of that would make sense if I head covered!

I don’t like to disappoint anyone. I don’t feel happy when a company regrets sending me a sample. I truly want every product review to be good. But if I’m being honest, I can’t make wild claims about stuff I don’t like, won’t use, or find inferior. That’s not helpful for me, for my readers, or the makers. 

Better communication might’ve prevented such misunderstandings. I will try to do better in the future. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I do try to be authentic. 


If you’re a blogger who’s been in a similar situation, how did you handle it?

What Kind of Posts Do You Want Featured on TJL?

Recently, a reader commented about a Panda Express giveaway that had expired. I replied that such feedback was very helpful for me because if there’s a specific request, I can try to fulfill it. Knowing folks may want another chance to win a Panda Express gift card is awesome!

TJL is not just about me, my life, and my views. It is also a forum, where readers are encouraged to share whatever matters to them. So, I’m opening up the floor and inviting everyone to chime in.

What kind of posts would you enjoy reading? Giveaways are obviously the most popular, but we cover a wide range of topics around here. Pick a category, an issue, or ask a question. I will do my best to answer everyone.

5 Pool Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

Pools have a reputation for being all about fun, but we often overlook the potential danger. In only 20 seconds, a child can drown! Most of us, me included, know someone who has died in a drowning accident. The pain caused by that type of untimely death is almost unbearable. As parents, it is vital that we take the necessary precautions. Here are 5 important tips for pool safety:

1. Parent Supervision

Proactive observation is the number one way to prevent drownings. That means sitting close to the pool with your full attention on the child—not talking on the phone, reading, texting, or doing anything that distracts. Make sure to do regular headcounts and step in if playtime gets too rowdy. If you’re in a group, it can be helpful to designate a Water Watcher, and change shifts every 15 minutes.

Supervision is critical, but it unfortunately can and does fail, which is why additional layers of protection are needed. 

2. High locks on doors and windows

Locks installed up high and out of the reach of children should be on every door and window that leads to the pool area. Some drownings happen because a parent didn’t know their child had figured out the door knob, so don’t rely on the door being shut. Any pet doors that grant access to the pool should also be shut securely.

3. Safety Fence

Many cities and towns mandate fences with good reason. Even if yours doesn’t require it, the peace of mind provided by installing a fence is priceless. Fences should be at least 4 feet tall and have a self-closing, self-latching gate. Mesh pool safety fences, like Life Saver Pool Fence, have proven to be extremely effective. 

4. Alarms

Unlike what movies show with kids screaming for help and thrashing in the water, most drownings tend to be silent. Alarms break that silence. There are many alarm options to choose from—door/window alarms, alarms that sit in the pool, and one worn directly on the child. 

5. Swimming Lessons

As soon parents and pediatricians feel comfortable, a child should receive swimming lessons. There is no “magic age” to start, and truly, the younger the better! Some organizations even offer training for infants. Check what’s available in your local area. In my family, everyone knows how to swim, started young, and has no fear of the water.

While these 5 tips can help to prevent most tragedies, there is no method that will stop 100% of them. Knowing CPR can be a big benefit if something awful does occur and it’s easy to get trained. CPR classes are held around the country, often for free. Ones that do charge have a nominal fee that’s worth every penny.

What is your best pool safety tip?

Cosby Trial Shows Victims are Still Blamed & Shamed

It’s often said that rape is the most under-reported crime and after watching the Bill Cosby trial play out, it’s clear why. From the very beginning there has been an effort to shame, blame, and discredit all of the ladies who have come forward. (Personally, I find it impossible to believe that over 50 women are all lying!)

While we have progressed a lot as a society, some myths simply will not die. Take, for example, the theory that someone can “ask for it” or cause abuse by wearing “provocative clothes.” Surely, in the year 2017, with so much more awareness, this nonsense couldn’t be believed by anyone…

Not only do some people believe it wholeheartedly, it can even sway their vote. A male juror from Cosby’s trial is quoted as saying, “Let’s face it: She went up to his house with a bare midriff and incense and bath salts. What the heck?”

This is so sad, so shocking, and so illogical! Regardless of what type of clothing, or underwear, or shoes a person is wearing, it can not be an excuse for rape. Even if an individual was walking through the street in the nude, nobody has the right to molest, assault, or abuse them in any manner. A bare midriff is not an invitation to be manhandled like a piece of meat!

I truly wish we lived in a world where women and girls weren’t judged so harshly based on their appearance. A world where total equality was the norm. Unfortunately, we aren’t living in that kind of place, and until things change, we have to do everything we can to protect ourselves from vicious predators. Ladies need to carry mace in their purses, attend self defense classes, and take any reasonable safety measure. (Of course, it’s not always possible to prevent crime, but we still have to try!)

And, most of all, when a victim is brave enough to come forward, we can NOT talk about her clothes, or whether she was drinking, or her past dating history. Every victim deserves the right to be believed instead of harassed and doubted.

I am extremely disappointed by the jurors decision in the Cosby case. No matter how much I wish it had been a conviction, this is how the law works and we have to accept it. What I wonder, though, is how many others will stay silent because of what these victims were subjected to? Now, that is one scary thought to ponder…


How do you feel about the Cosby Case?