When is a review not a review?


It has been a while since I ranted on a Friday but I saw a headline yesterday that properly made me rage.    And made me ask “when is a review not a review”?      No surprise it was in the Daily Mail but hey ho.  The article in question was this one:

So it will also come as no surprise to you that it grabbed my attention as I am a huge fan of “Heston’s slow cooker“, it actually being made by Sage Appliances.    Not that the review goes on to mention Sage Appliances, the word Sage is in fact, only used once and then there is a link to John Lewis where you can buy it.  And no doubt the other one they mention, made by Murphy Richards (and a link to Currys).

Now I take doing reviews very seriously.  When I agree with a company to do a review I make sure that I actually review the item in question, for as long as I feel necessary to form an honest opinion.   So the company that sent me an anti ageing face cream and wanted a review within the week got short shrift because, in my book, you can’t tell if it has delivered on the anti-ageing promise in such a short space of time.

If I am going to tell you about something, land in your inbox, and have people find the review via Google I want to make sure they get what they want to read and have something on which to then base their buying decision.

I take my own photos and show the product in action.  Or the results of what it has produced.   I like to show that I have actually reviewed the item, not just mentioned it or copied something off the back of a box and shoved the item on eBay afterwards.

Which is why the review that followed that headline gave me all the rages.   Here, IN FULL, is the “review”:

And here is the photo that accompanied the review:

Now you don’t need to be a cordon bleu cook to realise that photo is not the “Ham in Ginger Beer” the reviewer claims to have cooked.   A further hint is in the bottom left hand corner.  The credit for the photo is Shutterstock.  A photo library that I use a lot.  You go there to get a “stock image”, ie one that you need to illustrate a piece when you don’t have one of your own.  ie you are writing a piece about David Beckham and haven’t actually met him.

I grant you that I am slightly biased when it comes to Sage Appliances as I have a number of their products, and think they are all superb.   The tea maker I have had for over four years looks as good as it did the day it came out of the box, and makes a cracking cup of tea.

We have the “Heston slow cooker” in question and to call to put it side by side with a cheaper slow cooker is, quite frankly, ridiculous.   It isn’t just a slow cooker.    It is also a pressure cooker.

Just think about that for a minute and consider how on earth the technology for two completely different methods of cooking can be fitted into a product that size, and sold for under £160.     Then not only that, you can use it to saute the onions, garlic, mushrooms and mince before you then add your tin of tomatoes, close the lid and come home to bolognese in four hours.   All those flavours right from the outset are all in the pan, not in the frying pan on the hob (and in fact there is no frying to wash up either).

Or if you have forgotten to put it on before you leave for work, you can then use the pressure cooker function to make your bolognese in minutes.

Oh and it’s also makes risotto in seven minutes.   Did our reviewer mention that at all?



So shall we look at was actually said in this “review”?


So the fact that the Heston product doesn’t annoy our reviewer, and in fact it would assist our reviewer, is seen as a negative?

The lack of a timer irritates the review yet it STILL comes out as the winner?

This isnt a review, it’s a hatchet job, there is no review of either of these machines.     How on earth can you say if one appliance is better than another when you aren’t comparing two machines?

It’s nonsense.

And this is clincher for me:

The Sage Appliances machine has the most simple display ever!  They are pre-sets.  You simply turn a dial to select what you want to cook and then it does it for you.    It is because of those pre-sets that I know I can’t go wrong.

That I can put a £50 piece of gammon in there at Christmas and know I won’t ruin it.

This whole article is ridiculous.  From the outset the reviewer clearly had an agenda and knew the outcome they were going to achieve, they weren’t interested in actually reviewing and comparing like for like in any sensible way.   They just wanted to do a hatchet job on something for a clickbait article.

It would be like Jeremy Clarkson saying the latest Ferrari Portofino (revealed yesterday) is rubbish because he can’t drive it like a Formula 1 Driver.   Car manufacturers give Jeremy and his colleagues these cars to review, to tell us how they function, show us how we can dream of one day maybe owning them.

Not to come on our TV and say “this Ferrari is rubbish because the Dacia Sandero can do exactly the same thing and I am too scared to put my foot down”


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