Reviews Update – October 30, 2009
We just wanted to give everyone an update. The major parts of the reviews are done and are on to our IT staff for programming and posting on the web. This process takes a number of days so please be patient. The treadmill reviews are scheduled to be completed and finalized with final review and revisions hopefully completed by the first of next week. Posting will then start on the treadmill reviews and the elliptical reviews are scheduled to follow in about one week. We hope to have everything concerning the new reviews finalized and on the web by November 15th.
On a lighter note, earlier this year; and with all the talk about health care reform lately, I was thinking about a medical procedure my son had and the resulting bills. He had a blocked tear duct and although they had to use general anesthesia, you can imagine my surprise when the bills came in at nearly $10,000 for sticking a needle in his eye. That is essentially what was done and the actual procedure took less than 5 minutes. Thankfully we have plenty of people who work here (over 40 currently) so we have a group plan with BCBS so I didn’t have to pay the whole bill out of pocket.
So with that in mind, we have a new pricing schedule for customers who are doctors, hospital administrators, etc. Your diagnostic phone call that is free to the rest of the public is now a minimum of $500 and if a second opinion is needed, the minimum is $1000. Charges for fuses will equal standard hospital charges for aspirin. We will also institute fees for everything from paper towels used for cleaning to disposable pens that we have to use to take notes. Also, before any work is performed, we require that you fill out a requisition form in triplicate and much of the information asked on many of the forms will be exactly the same. We just want to see if you can repeatedly answer the questions with the same answers over, and over, and over, and over- you get the picture!
God help you if we actually have to do a procedure to fix your machine because our hourly rate just went up for the medical set. If you have to ask, you cannot afford it and no- we don’t accept your insurance plan!
We know that most of the people in the medical field aren’t the ones who are responsible for the ridiculous state of affairs that is our current medical system and we understand that we generally believe that we have the best health system in the world but something’s screwy and if you don’t fix it, it’s really going to get screwed up when our politicians are through with it.
Reviews Update – October 20, 2009
We have been working feverishly on our annual reviews and we hope to have them posted online in the November 1st to November 15th timeline. For those of you who have been emailing and calling, we are pretty certain of this timeframe and the more you call or email, the less time we have to do the review so please be patient. It has always been our policy not to release ANY early information on the reviews or best buy lists.
On a totally different subject I got sick of being fat several weeks ago and decided to go on a diet. Now I′m hungry and fat. Since I am also in shape- round is a shape- seriously, my brother and I are probably the only guys you will meet that are overweight and can outlift and outrun you unless you are a diehard, Ironman fitness enthusiast. We love food but we also love exercising so go figure. With all of that said, I decided to lose some weight so using a variety of our test models that we buy or get on loan for the reviews, I′ve had some good success losing some weight in the past 5 weeks…still have a ways to go but I′ll keep you updated on my progress. I figure I′ve lost about 1/3 of the weight that I want to lose so I can reduce my 12 pack to a 6 pack so we’ll see.
FTC Publishes Testimonial Guidelines Affects Will Be Felt by Testimonial Advertisements & Bloggers – October 6, 2009
We have finally received word that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has acted to protect consumers. For years we have been railing about "affiliate" sites that post "reviews" on fitness equipment but really the reviewer receives compensation either for the review or they get a commission on every sale. We are standing clearly at the back of the line when it comes to begrudging anyone being able to make an honest buck, but is it an honest buck when you mislead people into thinking that you are an "objective reviewer" when you really have a financial interest in steering people in one direction or another?
People have made the same complaints about us over the years saying, "you repair machines so won’t you steer people to machines that break." 12 years ago that may have been a valid skepticism, but now that we have well over a decade of history showing that we only recommend what we truly believe will last, quite frankly that criticism falls hard on the rocky shoreline of our credibility. We have never taken any inducement, payment, product, trip, or any other type of payment for our reviews and we never will. We even had a couple of companies send a sample and tell us to "keep" the sample. Those samples got donated to our local Goodwill charity in the name of the factory that sent the product. Life is too short to sell your soul for a treadmill in our view.
The FTC notice has several changes that "address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980." The new guidelines have what we believe are harsh financial penalties so those who break the rules can be quickly shut down.
The new guidelines provide examples to shed the light of day on "material connections" – "connections that consumers would not expect." This includes "review" sites that receive any form of compensation for their "review." It also includes bloggers and those who post anonymous reviews. In other words, if compensation of any form is involved and the writer does not disclose the connection, it is deceptive under the new FTC guidelines.
We really think that alternative views are good for everyone…we just want everyone to know who is behind the "review" and what financial interest the "reviewer" has. The question that always has to be raised is "how does this website make money?" if it is a review site. The anonymous reviews posted on retailer sites are a bit more problematic but with the current state of IP tracking, it is very possible to trace people down who are spreading misleading claims across the web and we encourage the FTC to pursue these people too.
Also, as an interested consumer or retailer, it is important for you to help the FTC so others will get a straight story on the web. The best way is to provide information to the FTC. You can file a complaint at www.ftc.gov or call toll-free 877-FTC-HELP.
¹ FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials- Press release 10/05/2009. http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm