I’ve had several phone calls over the past couple of weeks from brands seeing an increasing amount of their product appear on blog sales and Ebay. They ask me what to do. Given that I spend a spectacular amount of time championing blogs as worthwhile beauty critiques in an industry that is nervous to say the least about letting their products go to an unknown quanitity; I’m just gutted. Behind the scenes, blogging is still viewed as a risky avenue to go down for brands and I have literally spent hours and hours convincing people otherwise, and that bloggers do deserve samples for all the time they spend promoting brands and for their sheer passion and love of beauty. And also that beauty bloggers do have a rightful place in the beauty industry. All on my own time, by the way; there’s no pay packet.
So, when I hear that pre-launch products are popping up on Ebay, I just despair really. Where is your place in the beauty industry if all you’re going to do is use it as a handy little money maker? And, worse still, it tars all beauty bloggers with the same brush. There are amazing bloggers out there, making a true landmark in the beauty arena, whose sites are respected and loved, but when your Ebay sales tracks straight back to your blog, you’ve instantly lost any respect you’ve built up.
The brand that phoned me today is one that owns several other sub-brands. They’re taking a hard line policy and refusing to send product to any blogs that are selling their products, and all I can do is agree with them. This company looks after 8 best selling, prestige beauty brands. Products sent for review are exactly that; sent for review because you love beauty, right? Not for pocket money. It’s upsetting beyond belief that some bloggers are laughing all the way to the bank with this ‘blogging lark’.
However, I do see that it’s easy to lose respect for the products bloggers receive when some brands literally shower anyone and everyone with product hoping for a quantity not quality effect. But every brand has budgets to work to, and only so many samples to go round. If one small brand uses its budget to send product out to bloggers who then sell the product, you can see why they wish they’d sent it elsewhere. Brands – and particularly the PRs – tend to be passionate and protective about their products; the last place they want to ever see it is on Ebay, especially if its a prestige brand, and the second last place is on a blog sale.
Lastly, I’ll say that every single brand that I know of uses Google alerts and every time you sell something they do actually know about it.
When I talk to brands about how to work with bloggers, one of the things I always say is that they should treat bloggers with respect; now, I have to say treat the ones that deserve it with respect.
What more can I say?
PS: Subsequently, several pre-launch collections have been tracked back on Ebay – to journalists, and not in these instances, to bloggers. We all know that this goes on from the factory floor to the beauty desk, but unless the Ebay beauty sellers quit this horrible habit (that actually takes place in all industries and not just beauty) and just give away – or discretely ‘dispose of’ their products, it gives everyone a bad rap. Bloggers and journalists who wouldn’t dream of Ebaying their products don’t need to fall under the catch-all blagger umbrella when it’s hard enough as it is to adequately valued for what we’re doing.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
You all sound so naive to me. Many of the samples you get are sent to you by large multi-nationals or smaller companies with very large advertising budgets.
They send you a sample and in return they get FREE advertising from you. They are using you and you are worried about journalistic integrity.
Why not have ads or sell some of the products you receive? Why should you work for free?
It’s not like you can use all the samples you receive. Some won’t be right for your skin type, maybe you prefer another brand, who knows. If you receive a sample and give an honest review on your blog (for free), your job is done, in my opinion.
Gah. Not again. So embarrassing. To whoever is doing this….please stop.
I don’t have any other words than that right now, I’m afraid.
I have to agree with you BBB, I’m not on any reviewing blogger lists and don’t get sent things to try but I can understand how companies would be extremely annoyed.
Also, if a blogger reviews a product and says they love it and it’s amazing and we should all try it, why would you then sell it. Or is that me being naive?
I really don’t blame the companies for being upset. I would be.
Helen, ironically I know EXACTLY who is doing it.
It’s hardly like saying it’s ok to steal. You completely missed my point. Cosmetic companies spend billions of dollars a year on advertising and yet bloggers are expected to advertise their products for free. Bloggers are doing these companies a HUGE favour and (according to you and your commentators) have no right to benefit from their work/blog.
I can totally understand your point. I used to work in the beauty industry (and have a tonne of free/complimentary stuff from the brands I used to work for).
As I don’t really use that much makeup myself and prefer certain skincare brands, all these items are just gathering dust. I’ve tried giving some away, but there’s not much you can do with perfumes that don’t catch anyone’s likings.
Frens have told me before “why don’t you just sell the items on eBay and make some $$?” My response usually is “Coz I respect the brand (regardless under what situation I left the company)” *disclaimer, I have sold 1 or 2 GWPs (you know the type, mirrors or small cosmetic bags without any identifying brands) from my ex-companies before .
Maybe I’m just silly, but I’ll rather give the items away to ppl who will try them to see if they actually like the brand.
Am sure these bloggers think of themselves as privileged consumers instead of what they should be, passionate citizen-journalists.
I’ve seen this with my own eyes, and couldn’t believe the front the blogger had when confronted by others.
Maybe companies should send samples out as just that – samples. A squirt in a tub or a sachet, maybe that would stop it?
I think bloggers need to understand all these lovely things we get sent or invited to are a priveledge, not a right. I remember the big hoo ha beauty journo vs. bloggers and can completely understand why brands are upset.
Lets hope they don’t ruin it completely for the rest of us!
And who says blogging is a hobby and not a job? It is a job for many people and they expect to be compensated for their work. If you have written the review then your job is done, the product is yours. You can’t give away review products/samples with strings attached.
I’d never considering selling, or swapping, something that I was sent for review. I know a lot of people would probably argue that once the product has been reviewed it’s therefore technically theirs to do whatever they want with it but it just seems like profitering to me.
In my opinion it’s just wrong to even consider selling on products – either on ebay or a blog sale. It’s not what it’s about and it’s so short sighted to think that making a few quid off an ebay sale is worth the long term damage that sort of behaviour is doing to the reputation of ALL bloggers.
Plus the individuals will clearly be blacklisted and their little money trail will be cut off – hardly worth it all in the long run is it?
Its so annoying when people do this!
But now I’m worried, I was sent products from a tanning company and I also bought one of the items they sent me so I sold mine because I would never get through 2 bottles. I would never sell products I was sent for free.
I couldn’t agree more!
This premise of what they’re doing completely underwrites everything we’re all trying so hard to prove; that we, as bloggers, are as good and as respectable as print journalists (amongst a whole host of other things!)
If you’re a blog that undertakes in this sale makarky, please stop. You’ll ruin your credibility let alone everyone else’s.
Where to begin.
Although I am newish to this blogging world – I have been in this industry for over 15 years and could have made a FORTUNE selling product along the way.
I have NEVER N.E.V.E.R. sold one single thing – be it freebies, samples, testers – anything – EVER.
Working on the inside I can tell you that BBB is SPOT on. I have had a very hard time convincing people that bloggers are legit and a good way to promote/support brands.
If you are privileged enough to be sent product by ANYONE – be it a mass market shampoo OR a Limited Edition high-end product and you then see fit to SELL it – you should be a: ashamed and b:blacklisted.
Anyone selling anything I have sent out will hear about it. And some.
What do I do with anything I can’t use/don’t need/dare I say it – don’t like? Let’s just say I have a very happy daughter and a LOT of very happy nieces.
Shame on you.
That’s terrible, blog sales are a great way of making space for new make up and for picking up bargains but only for things you’ve brought yourself.
It’s beyond cheeky to try and profit from something you’ve been sent to review!
How horrid! I hope who ever has been doing this is ashamed of themselves. I have never been sent anything to review (and I don’t expect to be sent anything) but if I had been sent something I wouldn’t sell it full stop! Not even after the launch. I think if you have been given something for free it is wrong to profit by selling it on. Just my opinion x
I have to agree wholeheartedly!
I don’t get any samples sent to me and it makes me really angry when I see people who have had things sent for free making a profit from them. If you don’t like something, give it to someone who will! If you get something that isn’t suitable for you, send it back or ask someone else to review it on your behalf.
When I was interning on magazines and in PR I got so many freebies but it never crossed my mind to sell them – instead I have a lot of very happy, satisfied family and friends.
And yes, it is so easy for people to find out if you’re selling their products, so if you want to be respected just don’t do it!
Totally agree….but playing devil’s advocate – imagine said blogger is just receiving waaaaay too much stuff.
Why don’t they just send it back or do a giveaway?!?! It’s pretty naughty to sell the stuff on Ebay.
I’ve never been a fan of blog sales in general never mind this carry on.
However the irony of it is certain bloggers who carry on like this would also argue blue in the face that it is wrong to be paid to write a post (despite an honest opinion regardless of payment) yet are making money from advertising and selling products in such an unethical manner themselves. Double stsndards, much?
It is hugely disappointing that bloggers who are well respected & popular would stoop this low. It’s completely unprofessional on every level.
If you don’t like something you have been sent to review, pass it on to another blogger who doesn’t get much sent to them. I bet they’d be willing to pay the postage and they can write a decent review of it rather than someone selling it.
Name and shame. then no one will do it again. Simples.
My god that is just shocking and so embarrassing. Some people have no shame whatsoever. The things some people will do for a little bit of money. I hope they read this and feel the embarassment and shame they should be feeling. To actually have the audacity to sell products they have been sent for review purposes on ebay and even their own blog just leaves me speechless.
God I love nothing more than a good blog sale, but I would be so upset if I found out I was helping someone profit from something they received free. They should feel privaledged that they get sent new products to review and blog about for their readers, instead all they see if ££££ signs. So wrong on so many levels.
Print journalists probably do this too as well though, right?
I do agree that it’s lame, whatever. x
I would NEVER sell anything that was sent to me for free, only things that I have bought out of my own money that dont suit my skin etc.
It does leave a bad taste in your mouth when things like this happen.
Personally I would never dream of selling things I was sent, a) I’m too much of a hoarder and b) well it’s just not right is it!?
If you want to make space for new makeup, unless you spent your own hard earned cash, simply give away what you’ve been sent! At least that’s how see it!
With that said, we should be under no delusion that those within the industry do too make a quick buck off of free samples!
*shrugs* Either way it’s bad karma, and people shouldn’t do it!
Andrea, that’s a bit like saying its okay to steal from M&S because they’re so big they can afford it. What I’m objecting to mainly is that it is so blatant and right under the noses of the people who are making enormous efforts to engage with bloggers…blogging is a hobby not a job and you are under no obligation to write about or review anything. But, I think if you want to engage with the beauty PRs there is a way to behave and a way not to behave if you want to be taken seriously as a beauty blogger.
Oh wow, i have actually seen a bit of this going on and i was like um that a bit embarressing..
I would never do it, i would rather have it collecting dust, not accept it in the first place if its not right for my skin blah blah blah or give it away.
I do look at my blog as a job but selling items you get for free is unethical in my opinion
Andrea, I agree re compensation for time/effort and I work hard with brands to let them know they don’t have ‘rights’ with bloggers as they would maybe in print press with ad tie-ins etc. A beauty journalists job is to write about beauty. A blogger – unless it is a commercial blog – has the luxury of being their own editor and can pick and choose what they write about. Run ads..I’m absolutely not against it, but there isn’t really any industry in which converting free products sent in good faith for review into ready cash is acceptable. There are networks to join where you can be paid to post, where they’ll find ads for you to run or you can source your own. There are many ways to get some money from a blog, but in my personal view, blatantly flogging your samples isn’t the best way because it causes such upset. It’s the PRs who’ll get it in the neck – they’ll have been praised for working well with bloggers initally, but lambasted by their bosses for ‘allowing’ products to be on blog sales. There’s a whole chain of consequences that you can’t have the first clue about. My post is a warning that blogs are transparent…if you want to be taken seriously, behave more seriously and don’t call in samples to be blatantly sold. Whatever your intention or your needs, its never going to look like anything other than greed.
It’s not just confined to bloggers – I remember a case several years ago when a prestige skincare brand caught a journalist selling products on Ebay.
There are some fantastic beauty bloggers out there, but so many mediocre ones and those who clearly look upon blogging as a way to get free ‘stuff’.
Brands should be more selective with whom they engage with.
And to the greedy, grasping bloggers? Name and shame them.
I am disgusted! I have seen a major uk blogger/youtuber sell off freebie/sample products before and I was shocked at their audacity.
I have been reading beauty content and blogs online for many years and the way many blogs and bloggers are going is not good. Shame. Pure Greed.
Such a good post.
I personally wouldn’t sell on something I had been sent for free and/or review purposes.
It’s a shame that people ruin blogging for others.
Could it be for the most part though that many do it because they think if they are not using something selling it on to someone who loves/wishes to try the product is a good way of having a clear out? Or am I just being naive?
I think its sad that there are some bloggers out there that spoil it for others. I started blogging because I found a community were the bloggers were truly passionate about beauty and makeup and connected with that. I just want to share my experiences with other lovers of good products.
Companies could in the main nip this in the bud by providing samples and not full size lipsticks, mascaras etc. Just enough to give a face cream a good trial run… you get the picture. Would also help remove the suspicion from some readers who think certain bloggers are providing favourable copy in return for free swag etc.
On my blog, the PR page states (and always has):
I do promise that I will not personally profit from any samples sent. I will accept them as personal use only for review purposes and as such, samples will not be re-sold, or in any other way used for personal gain. Samples may be given to other people, but only in exchange for a review post.
I have been noticing an increasing amount of PR samples on various blog sales in the last few months, and it always, but always, makes me uncomfortable whenever I see it.
Hmm. There’s two sides to this. If people are stupid enough to sell things from their sites or products that aren’t yet released, then they ruin their relationiship with the brand and they have only themselves to blame. However, being a PR, it isn’t only bloggers who do this. Many well known beauty and fashion journalists regularly sell items on Ebay or at car boot fairs or wherever (NB I have seen them!). It’s been going on for years. To lay the blame at bloggers’ doors is unfair and unjust. Also, knowing the mark up of fragrance, for example, at 78%-80% plus, the brands are getting a fair deal with free PR. I’ve found that most people taking advantage of ‘free product’ worked for the brand themselves. Its each person’s personal responsibility to do what they think is fair and they shouldn’t be lectured.
I’m REALLY glad you bought this out in the open BBB! As a beauty PR, I was fuming when a couple of my clients products (spotted on Google Alerts) seemed to have been sold on. If products sent for review are not wanted, I wish the recipient would at least let me know rather than flog on and pocket the cash! I always try to check first to see if a beauty ed or blogger is interested in a review sample rather than sending one in and hoping for the best. I never assumed that bloggers were the guilty party in this though – it could just as easily be offline and other digital writers too…..
I haven’t sussed who the guilty ebay sellers were although I have tried so if anyone knows how to, I would appreciate an off-the-record heads up so I can save my and my clients time, money and effort in future and hopefully the culprits will eventually run out of options.
I love the candid first-hand viewpoint bloggers bring to beauty reviews and really hope this doesn’t backfire on the many who do a fab job entertaining and enlightening us on where to spend our beauty bucks. I guess all us PR’s can do for now is be selective and do our homework by reading blogs and getting to know beauty bloggers before making a judgement call. Love to hear from other beauty PR’s on this!
Thanks BBB for the soapbox opportunity!
Its just plain wrong. Nothing more to say.
OK, I get the principle of this. Just two things: however hard we/you/they try, bloggers will always be distinctly different to journalists for so many reasons. Which isn’t to say their reviews aren’t valuable or they shouldn’t act with integrity, but nevertheless I can see why PR companies are sometimes reluctant to treat them in the same way – plus there are soo many now which means a lot of work in being selective or a lot of samples!
With regards to blog sales generally, is there really a problem with selling things you don’t want any more provided you bought them yourself? Seems a great way to de-clutter and get products to those who really want them. Some of the comments and original post seem to extend the stigma to all blog sales – sample or otherwise which I think is a bit unfair. Bloggers aren’t professionals and it’s a great community in which that should be OK if they are products you bought yourself. I kind of view it in the same way as a staff noticeboard or even a FB/Twitter update selling unwanted items. Perhaps specific forums are more respected ways of doing this? e.g. specktra.net
I completely agree with you BBB, its totally disrespectful to the brand and to other bloggers by behaving in such a way. Blogging is generally done because of a love you have for something not a cash making incentive. Its beyond upsetting to think the actions of particular bloggers will tar the reputation of a serious and pasionate community. I can understand the views of PRs feeling like its risky to work with bloggers, events like this will only reinforce that.
On the upside, most bloggers are respectful and the one’s that are not will generally be exposed.
Completely agree with this, I have been sent a couple of products to review specifically for the blog, but because I already work for a magazine I prefer not to do this as the featured products are usually ones that I feel really deserve a mention. We always have so many hair and beauty products in our office, and it would never even cross my mind to sell any of these, the only time I have is when I’ve worked for other magazines and we’ve had a sale to everyone in the building on products we have had in for a while (so no new or pre-launches) and give the money to charity.
It’s especially bad if bloggers are selling products that are embargoed, it’s embarrassing to other beauty bloggers and really unfair on the company who will spend money advertising and promoting it strategically.
Anyway, rant over and I’m so glad you posted this. xx
Urgh. Grubby, and frustrating and annoying for the rest of us.
Just adding another thought – it’s not right that these are pre-launch products appearing on eBay. These are sent out in good faith to bloggers to review ahead of release and as far as I am concerned, that is a definite perk of the job (or hobby, if you prefer). It’s nice to get sent something to review in advance of it being in the shops and I am always grateful for that kind of scoop.
The fact that Joe Public can subsequently get their mitts on an item ahead of a launch date because of the greed of a blogger is, indeed, grubby and ethically wrong and I can totally see why companies / PRs are angered by it.
Whilst I totally agree that the practice of selling off samples sent for consideration is beyond despicable, I also think that brands should be somewhat more discriminating and organised in their approach to bloggers.
I am getting rather sick of every so often seeing coordinated “waves” of reviews for the same products. I understand that launching time is when momentum is most needed, but this is starting to remind me of why I stopped reading women’s magazines.
And, Andrea, as long as a blog is not expressly commercial, as far as I (the reader) am concerned, I will continue to consider it the product of hobby and not a professional endeavour.
I’m not surprised you feel angry after your efforts to raise the credibility of bloggers has been undermined in this way. I absolutely think the bloggers concerned should be named and shamed, if only to the PR firms/brands so they know who not to deal with in future! I agree with so much of what has been said above, this is just not on.
This irritates me from another angle as well. I’ve been a reader a lot longer than I’ve been a blogger, and I would never trust a review written by someone who was selling on their samples. It is pretty poor behaviour towards your followers to hype up a product so you can sell it on. Both PRs/Brands and readers put a lot of faith and trust in bloggers, and this is just….embarrassing.
You’ve got me playing Columbo now… I wonder if this is a blogger or journo?
That’s a lot of prestige brands in their feedback.
I have to say, I’ve never noticed bloggers selling samples on blog sales, I must live under a rock. Other commenters sound as if they’re well aware of this going on like it’s a pandemic?
Are we talking many bloggers or a couple of bad apples? Saskia and Ally… you sound like you’re talking about specific people. You should email BBB so that their names may be passed on to the relevant brands.
Ultimately, I think it’s great that PR are monitoring and will hopefully just blacklist and move on with the least amount of fuss and general blogger negativity.
I’ve never sold or financially profited from anything I received as a sample, though I have privately swapped and given away things that weren’t suitable for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Surely discretion is key?
My faith in bloggers and blogging remains intact and I’m sure that this is nothing more than an incredibly small minority who ironically will probably never read this post anyway as they’re too busy eBaying their “loot”.
I just hope that at some point soon all the drama and negativity will stop and we can get on with obsessing over eyeshadow dupes.
It is grubby indeed. I remember once a top editor at one of the big glossies was given one of ONLY TWO sample handbags from Susannah Hunter… when one of the samples ended up on eBay just days later (and the other editor was confirmed to still have the bag) it brought her journalistic integrity (and probably her job) into question. It happens across all mediums, is considered equally grubby everywhere BUT makes blogging look that much less legitimate since we bloggers have an uphill credibility battle going on right now anyway. Last thing we need are a few bad apples.
Andrea, BBB is right. If blogging is your job, then you should already be compensated for it monetarily from a boss/parent company/ads. If you are not making money from one of those things, IT IS NOT A JOB. It is a hobby. If you are making your money by selling press samples, IT IS NOT A JOB. It is a hobby.
Yes, bloggers are certainly advertising products they review, but, as BBB also says, bloggers have no one to answer to (unless they have a paying blogging gig with higher ups to answer to) and, thus, can write about whatever products they darn well please, meaning they are not obliged to review (and thus advertise) any specific products.
Squeaky wheel and all that… have always been a fan of name and shame, as one of the earlier commentators suggested. Only the guilty parties get agitated by such suggestions.
BBB, way to hit at both sides of the issue. Happy to have you here!
Well, no matter the whos and the whys… if the companies are cheesed off they’re just going to stop sending items for review to everyone.
So in the end all bloggers are going to suffer.
I don’t really care, I don’t usually get sent items to review, but I can understand companies that get their preview items leak on Ebay and people making money out of their products are a bit annoyed.
Nevermind the fact that there is no remuneration. Bloggers accept items in exchange for a review. That’s what the mutual agreement is. It doesn’t take hours to write a review, and usually the value of the item that they get free will probably be worth more than the actual wage they would have had if they got paid for the review. One can’t complain about companies getting free advertising when the beauty blogging world let it be that way. It’s like doing some volunteering and then you decide that because you’re investing your time in it you should get paid for it. That would be well cheeky.
I think it’s sad that some bloggers just take the free products for granted, and put the companies off so that one day they’ll just stop. It doesn’t happen to some of us, we actually have to buy the makeup we review. So don’t be greedy and count your blessings, because it may not last much longer…
I’ve seen a well known blogger have blog sales all the time and at first I didn’t really know about promotional samples. I remember wondering… why does she buy so many products that she doesn’t want? Haha, now I see what is really going on. It is in poor taste to sell things given as a promotional sample. It seems that if bloggers want to get rid of these samples they should donate them, swap for other products to review, give them to friends to try out. But making money off of samples seems wrong and hurts our credibility. Thanks for shedding light on this!
@Lipglossiping yup, I am talking about 2 specific people who are happy to air contradictory views over twitter yet sell on their ‘freebies’ – sometimes days after they were received.
My comment was merely a response to the annoyance of it but if I felt strongly enough to name them, I would have probably written a post of this nature myself. But I haven’t.
let’s just hope as @lipglossiping pointed out that it’s just a few rotten apples who do this, and not an increasing number and that they will contaminate the rest of the bloggers.
thank you for the great post.
There’s a listing for a Lauder Blue Dahlia shadow that went for £4.26. What the hell is the point?
A vile practice, I hope offenders are named and shamed and no longer receive goodies.
If you don’t want an item, don’t accept.
If you weren’t informed before receiving, pass on to another blogger who will, or even a non-blogger if it won’t get used otherwise.
Ugh, that sucks to be honest, and is such a shame. 🙁
I’ve nvr seen a blog sale of samples) but am horrified to hear that anyone could be so, frankly, moronic. LLGxx
Well said. This kind of behavior is atrocious. I haven’t personally ran into this sort of thing, but I have noticed bloggers here in the US (where it’s required to disclose) whom don’t disclose receiving free product or posting their “fave site” when I know they were paid to post about them.
I was going to right a similar post but I didn’t want to point fingers and get accused of being nasty, but I agree it’s totally wrong. I have noticed blog sales that consist 100% of items I know they have been sent for free, and expecting money for it is wrong.
I have in the past sold some items I have received and not liked or found myself not using, the only reason I did this as it was around the time of Haiti, and 100% of the price I charged went to charity.
It is very wrong and impolite and I personally would like to see those people banned from future events and being sent samples.
Thanks for a great post. Beauty blogging is only just starting to take off in Australia and it’s an uphill battle to get the PRs on-board and understanding the value of our sites. When bloggers are openly demanding products and stuff like this happens it tars everyone with the same brush and those of us who have worked hard have to go back to square one again.
Hopefully karma bites those people who do this in the ass!
Gah, and here I am encouraging PR/Brands to work with beauty bloggers and there’s bad apples out there that does things like these that seriously damage the trust/effort for so many passionate beauty bloggers out there.
@lovelyandroid – Is that in reference to me? I certainly do do big blog sales, but rather than be passive aggressive and play Chinese whispers, I can say quite honestly (as stated in my sales) items I sell are bought by me. Why? Cos I’m addicted to make up and make frequent make up mistakes purchases. And yes, I can afford to buy it but that doesn’t mean that selling it on is a bad idea if I have no use for it.
If I was selling press samples (which by the way, I give to a local charity called The Mustard Tree) I’d be on a plane to Bora Bora now.
As for this messy business – anyone who is is selling pre-launch products anywhere, is just daft. Clearly not many people will be sent this stuff (I think?) and it’s traceable? Its also up to the PR to vet the blogger, after all.
Coincidentally, I bought some new season Laura Mercier eyeshadow and bronzer from eBay for super cheap. When it arrived, it was marked with press sample on the back, and the envelope watermark was on a National Newspaper. Checking back on the sellers profile, they have a lot of high end, very very new products up starting from just 99p.
Clearly they work for that newspaper and have access to the samples and can therefore sell them on (and post them for free, probably). So it’s happening on all levels….
Hmmm I’m not clued up on any of this, but I think cosmetic companies and their PR’s need to start getting selective about who they give their products to. As a blogger I’m VERY selective about who I take products from and in the long run it’s better for all parties.
It’s disgusting that people do this and it makes it very difficult for all of the other bloggers with good intentions.
I don’t get sent many products to review but when I do I see it as a privilege. If I’m sent products that don’t suit me I either give them to a friend to review for me, or use them as part of a giveaway on my blog. I don’t blame the brands for not dealing with bloggers who sell the products sent for review.
As a fairly new blogger, I find this disgusting and grimey. Why even accept the offer if you’re just going to sell it off? (I doubt they magically get sent items, there’s obviously some contact between the company and the blogger.)
The ladies I follow & read daily have my utmost respect. With the amount they post, and how thorough they are in their reviews, they deserve pay – But they do it for free, because they love blogging about beauty. Like BBB said, it’s not a JOB, it’s a HOBBY. There is no blogging law saying these ladies are entitled to receive free things. I feel it’s a smack in the face to everyone else when someone turns around and sells a free item.
I would be honored to try anything out from a major company. If I wound up not liking something, a friend would get it or I’d do a giveaway. Not a big deal. You get PR samples because they want your opinion.. what’s the point in them giving away free things if they’re going to be tossed onto ebay the moment they arrive? I agree with some of the other commenters – name & shame.
Thanks so much for writing this. As a new blogger it’s frustrating to see how the actions of a few are going to make my ‘job’ harder.
I’m lucky enough to be at the stage where I actually need to decline some offers of products because they don’t suit my lifestyle or theme of my blog.
I would never accept something simply to sell it on just as I wouldn’t accept something that I actually wanted just to profit from.
It’s rude and a violation of trust and generosity.
Sure, we’re giving free advertising, but PRs don’t have to send us full sized products etc and they’re being lovely by doing it.
A bit of mutual respect goes a long way and I hope these people don’t spoil it for the rest of us.
I think it’s appauling that Beauty Bloggers would do such a thing. If I received anything for review purposes and didn’t like it.. I’d find someone who did and give it to them for free…because that’s how I got it.
People who do things like this, I wonder if they blog for the right reasons
This is really terrible. i think its not reflective of the industry – especially the people of integrity you associate with, but more a case of sheer greed and a lack of values (and more than a little bit dumb – did they think nobody would find out??).
Thanks BBB for bringing this to light.
I’ve only seen this happen once and by a reasonably big UK youtuber/blogger and thought it was incredibly cheeky.
I’m lucky to have just got to the stage where PR folk are starting to send me things and everything I have been sent for review still sits in my drawers at home.
What irritates me is when someone elses actions spoil it for everyone else. I’ve loved seeing the increase in UK bloggers and seeing the industry give recognition to them.
Being invited to events etc is amazing & shows the trust & respect brands have for us. It just is so frustrating when this happens.
Having said that I know too that it’s not just beauty bloggers who do this. I’ve been to several London bootsales & seen the products on sale where sellers openly admit they work as a beauty journalist.
Surely it would just have been better all round (as cosmetic candy said previously) to simply name and shame the small amount of bloggers doing this or take it up with them directly rather than this rather unpleasant, passive aggressive stance? It’s all a bit ‘finger pointy’, nasty and vindictive to be honest even if I don’t agree with stupidly selling as yet unreleased product samples.
I completely agree and it gives us all a bad name.
While I fully reserve the right to write an honest review of anything I’m sent I would never sell anything on because I do want to be taken seriously and to be honest if I sample something properly I am using it for some time.
I’ve been considering writing something similar for the last couple of weeks, and have been chatting with various PRs regarding how they feel about it, (BBB, I guess probably the same company that you have!), but its such a sticky area as to whether its ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or just becoming the norm…
Anyway, what is coming up is that its beginning to become an epidemic. In less than 2 weeks, I heard from 6 different companies regarding catching people selling their samples, and one in particular sadly, won’t deal with bloggers at all, which is a shame as their product would be well placed in the blogging world.
I also had a phonecall from a small company recently who wanted to include a product in a feature I’m doing, but they were very apologetic in saying that it would have to be a small sample jar. They went on to explain that they kept seeing their full size jars on eBay, and as a new company, desperate for publicity, but with little budget, it was crippling them.
I had no problem with that, and suggested they invest in some 10ml jars for decanting!
the sample they sent was actually a very good size, and was duly sent off to my product tester who looks after bodycare.
There’s a great company in London who follow Twitter and facebook, and whenever they ‘catch’ someone selling on ebay etc, they actually get in touch with that blogger and have it out with them!
I think some forget that Twitter, Facebook, and indeed blogs, are public forums and therefore who knows who is reading/watching.
As I cross both the blog/journalist divide as a dotcom but with advertisers that I report to etc, my site kind of falls into all categories and as a result, we get samples from all sorts of people. There’s no way on earth that I could test everything out myself, I don’t have enough skin, body, hair, clients, and even the other writers and artists wouldn’t necesarily have time, but I do have a team of about 30-50 product testers on the forum who willingly test for me and give their reviews, and likewise, I’m sure many bloggers do similar, give products to friends etc.
When it comes down to whether you should or shouldn’t make money from selling products, if the blog is taking up so much of a person’s time that they feel they ‘deserve’ something back for it, and thus sell off samples and freebies, then that’s the blog to stop reading. Their love for it and unconditional reviewing has probably gone by the wayside anyway…
@lipglossing, I also saw that MrClive blue dahlia sale, and have asked Estee what their thoughts/actions are… still waiting for the ‘on the record’ reply…!
This makes me beyond furious.
How can anyone justify selling products that they have been given free?
I agree totally that the brands should take a hard line.
Many a person ruining their own future here.
I mentioned this issue on my blog if you want to answer some of the questions asked. Thanks for bringing it up! http://lovelyandroid.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/blog-ethics/
That’s just wrong and creepy. I would never sell anything sent to me for review, I just would feel totally gross about it.
It does give bloggers a bad rep. Most of us DON’T blog for free stuff and turn around and sell it; we blog because we are passionate about something and love it.
totally agree. great post.
This is really a shame. Okay if they were selling it and gave the money to charity, but to get some extra cash from samples that PRs sent you for consideration is really nasty.
I came to a point where PRs do contact me but I do choose if I want or don’t want any sample product(s). I really don’t want to receive products which I won’t use because there’s probably someone who will use it so why not send it to someone else, right?
I really don’t understand why people do this – ok if something doesn’t work for you personally pass it on for someone else to try, some bloggers get sent nothing and would jump at the chance to try something new just don’t use it as a money making scheme. I have been sent things twice that I haven’t ended up keeping – one parcel contained items that I already owned so I gave it away in a giveaway and reviewed the products I already owned for my blog (I informed the pr that I was going to do this if it contained things I already had )and the other one I reviewed for my blog and then swapped with a fellow blogger who might get more use out of it. It never occured to me to sell the items it’s not in my nature if I don’t want something I tell the pr / company that I don’t want it
I’m not a lawyer, so perhaps this isn’t possible, but couldn’t companies include a short letter with each package that says something like “by accepting these products you agree to not sell them. If you do not accept, please return using the enclosed prepaid shipping label.”
Then if a blogger is caught, the brand can send a quick note requesting that they remove the offending item from their sale… and blacklist the blogger.
Also, is this happening in the US as well or is it mostly a UK phenomenon?
I think it’s all about respect and ethics for the brands that have established themselves. There’s no written rule that one can’t sell products that they are given unless you did sign something agreeing not to, but be morally aware about what you do. I just started my blog and although the idea of a near future blog sale has crept into my head recently, I decided that I wouldn’t sell anything on my blog only because um…I just want to keep it simple, stuff I write about stuff I love, maybe a giveaaway later on. I do admit I made a few as in around 3 purchases on ebay for stuff from other countries like Japan that are only available there when I was a new makeup enthusiast. I try to imagine myself standing in front of these Brands founders with pride. I don’t think I can see myself doing that unless I pay honest money and get the item from an official sale. If a friend sells something she has to me in person, that would feel a bit different, and of course I’d want it to be boxed and brand new 🙂
I think My Lips But Better has the best idea. A legal, brief contract.
really interesting to read all the comments and debate. As a beauty PR I have to say this has been going on for years and is definately not a blogger only trait.
In the early days is was kind of acceptable for interns and other non-paid work experience to ‘take advantage’ of freebies etc but under no circumstances has it ever been ok to sell them for profit.
We are all lucky to work in an exciting and vibrant industry and i think its a two way street – PR’s and journalists need to earn respect and show respect to each other. @veritycash
just wrote something inspired by this, have a little read if you like xxx
I have a small box, in a drawer, of items that I know I will never use and have often come as part of a bag of items. I tend to give these away to good friends and family as they will have a good home and hopefully they will repurchase and tell their friends too.
I don’t need full sized products and often prefer samples as if I like a product, I buy a full size.
I did a blog sale at the beginning of the year, anything that wasn’t bought by me, the profits went to the Haiti Disaster Fund and a UK Cancer Charity. That’s allowed I think. I needed the space and the opportunity to do something good was there.
My advice and warning is that if you need cash that badly, get a job and stop making us look like a bunch of grubby shoplifters. It’s infuriating to those of us with standards and who take blogging seriously (as a hobby) and spend time making good links with PRs and companies.
I do think that PR companies should do a bit more research about who they trust with their samples. Let’s hope those who got scorched will learn from this bitter lesson but not enough to give up on us completely.
I have seen several people do this and it makes me so angry!
One particular blogger was called up on selling the lovely illamsqua sirens pallette that she had received for free not too long ago by quite a few people and she couldn’t care less about it!! Mind you, this is the same blogger who 2 days ago said pixiwoo were ‘up their own arses’ – so she is clearly a bit crazy in the head!
I think it is out of order and these individuals should not be sent anything!!
There’s a lot of fingerpointing and outrage in this thread.
I don’t think selling samples on is a good idea at all, but neither is it an outrageous crime. It’s a fine way for a blogger to look shabby, underhanded and untrustworthy certainly, and to break trust with brands and PRs. Grubby, yes, but criminal, no. Ultimately it’s up to the blogger to choose how to conduct him/herself.
Unfortunately, “sample abuse” is one of the possibilities brands have to consider when they take a leap into the unknown and give out samples to bloggers.
Bloggers represent the consumer at large, and within the blogger spectrum there are ethical and upstanding bloggers, as well as unscrupulous types. Just like real life – which is what the blog landscape is there to represent.
My main concern is that as time goes on brands should dedicate time and resources to identifying which bloggers are trustworthy and worth working with. Brands and PRs, blog relationships CAN work if you take time to sort the wheat from the chaff. But please don’t tar us all with the same brush based on a few people’s actions.