Should I or shouldn’t I?

Here’s the thing…

There’s a particular upscale car rental company that I’ve been eager to try out.  And, as luck would have it, I’ll be traveling to one of their supported cities over the holidays.  And, I’ll need a rental car.  And, all of the other rental car companies are outrageously expensive during that time so this company’s fixed pricing scheme works out nicely.  Perfect!

Should I or shouldn’t I? Fork in road

But…

A representative from this particular company made me an offer: they would cover my rental car rate if I would agree to write about my experience afterwards.  This is a new one for me.  Should I accept the offer?

I know that many bloggers get similar offers all the time from hotel chains, airlines, and more.  Some of these bloggers routinely turn down these offers.  Many accept thes offers and fully disclose the arrangement in their subsequent posts.  Some accept the offers, but do not tell their readers.

The problem with accepting offers like these, whether the arrangement is disclosed or not, is that the relationship can bias the blogger in favor of the company in question.  Even if you try hard to remain unbiased, I imagine that its hard to give bad reviews to those who have paid your way.  So, I should clearly say “no”, right?

On the other hand…

If I’m aware of the potential bias (I am), I should be able to counteract it.  In fact, if I accepted this offer I would probably over-correct: I would try harder to find fault than I would have if I paid my own way.  Plus, I most likely would have written up my experience with this rental anyway, so why not get the car for free?

Except…

Agreeing to write a post in exchange for a free rental is basically the same as being paid to write a post.  I have been approached a couple of times before by companies that asked to pay me to write about their products or services.  I’ve always turned down those offers without hesitation.  Isn’t this the same thing?

What do you think?

I’ve already made my decision, but I’m not going to tell what it is… yet.  I’m curious what you think.  I don’t want to bias your input by declaring my decision.

Please comment below.  Should I or shouldn’t I?  Why?  Why not?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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David
Guest
David

Don’t accept freebie for your self… Remain neutral.
However, if you could use the free rental as a giveaway or better still donate to a charity with readers giving suggestions then I think you would be less likely to give a biased review

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Go for it!

Just be honest about your experience in your writeup. That’s the most important.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’d have no problems with you taking the offer, as long as it’s not contingent on you writing well of the company. It’s not so much like the example of being approached by a company paying for a post since you would have done so anyway

Rob
Guest
Rob

I think you answered the question for yourself in the “Except…” paragraph. Although personally it wouldn’t bother me too much either way as long as you disclose the “deal.”

Steve
Guest
Steve

The Force is strong with you. You will pass on the offer, even though almost all would rationalize why they can accept it. Your high moral values are worth much more than a free car rental. Much respect.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Go for it. Since this can’t be a “blind taste test”, you will probably get preferential treatment. Just concentrate the blog on the what you learn about the company and their products.

Craig
Guest
Craig

You should definitely accept the offer. This is a blog that has built a reputation on neutrality. You keep credit card offers on a separate page, rather than build them into your post. And you seem to go to great lengths to point out better offers than your own, when available. Based on that, readers like myself have come to trust your opinion of things, whether you derive financial benefit or not. I see no difference in this situation. You clearly will derive some financial benefit in not having to pay for the cost of the rental. But I trust that won’t bias your review of the product based on what the cost would have been.

Tucker
Guest
Tucker

^^Agreed

Paul
Guest

Take the amount you would have paid for the rental, and offer it up as a blog giveaway to the airline of choice or something! Win win for everybody.

Then just be honest. Travel agents do this stuff all the time (or, used to anyways), and sure its meant to influence them, but also allow them to speak honestly and with knowledge about such and such experience. Just be totally upfront about it, annoyingly so in the post.

Craig
Guest
Craig

Additionally, I think by accepting this offer, it gives you the opportunity to follow up with a review of the product when paid for by yourself. I think many readers would be interested to know if the comped experience was better overall than the standard paid for experience that your readers will receive. All the more reason to accept this offer, in my opinion.

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

I agree it would be great to review them twice. It sounds like silvercar, so the car would be the same. It would just be a matter of how much more service you get for doing a review…will they detail it instead of just rinsing it off, will it be waiting for you vs waiting for it, will the drop-off be smooth and easy. Silvercar wouldn’t rent dented dinged up crap, so it seems there is little to review except the customer service, which is hit or miss at most car rental agencies….do it twice, then you get 1/2 off overall and your second (incognito) review will tell the whole story.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

My opinion: Shouldn’t
It wouldn’t affect whether I trust your opinion either way, so I think that you *could* accept the free rental and it would be fine.
But … I don’t think it’s worth it. I mean, if you’ve never done anything like this before, is this really the case that compels you to start? I don’t think so. I say stick with your current policy of not accepting free stuff in exchange for blog exposure.
If you do decide to change your policy, that’s fine too, I’m not going to stop reading, and I don’t expect it to change my opinion of you or your blog. But I’d say “shouldn’t”. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.

tm1128
Guest
tm1128

Totally agree with Jamie.

Dan Bennett
Guest
Dan Bennett

Here’s another way to look at it:

Are you being offered something that you wouldn’t yourself pay for (because too expensive/not worth it etc)? Then you shouldn’t. If you would, then go for it, disclose it and put the money towards running the blog.

If it’s the precious metal car company I’m thinking of I think you’ll like it!

Dan
Guest
Dan

If u frequently write trip reports then sure why not. Take the free be and disclose it and be honest.

But ur not in the business of writing trip reports and that’s not what we come here to read. So I vote no – don’t take it.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I concur. Your blog is about maximizing points and miles…. Not about reviewing paid services. This shouldnt be a question of ethics, it should be one of scope. This one is clearly out of scope.

DonT
Guest
DonT

Don’t do it. It’s not necessarily the risk of bias, as much as it is the appearance of it, even with full disclosure. Your integrity is worth more than a free rental, right?

FlyerM
Guest
FlyerM

“Whenever there’s a doubt, there is no doubt.”

If you’re hesitating, that’s your conscious telling you it’s a bad idea.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I couldn’t agree more.

Christina
Guest
Christina

Take the offer, disclose the arrangement, then give a totally honest review…the good, the bad and even the ugly.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Follow your methodology and how you want to run your blog. Do you review products that are given to you or do you always get them yourself? There’s no issue if you disclose, but if this is different than the way you normally review then I’d vote to stay true to your methodology. If you are OK blogging about products you are provided in the future as well then take the freebie.

LarryInNYC
Guest
LarryInNYC

Too late. The fact that the company has offered you something of value has already established a relationship that, if it were me, I’d be hard pressed to ignore in my analysis of the product.

The problem with this kind of bias isn’t so much the net amount of dollars but rather the underlying relationship between the parties. Mere friendship can be as problematic as a purely commercial relationship. One can certainly observe that in some of the leading blogs on the travel space were there’s little question about which hotel and airline programs are friends of the blogger and which programs he or she has no relationship with.

At this point you can take the offer or not but, if you do write up the product you ought to disclose the offer, and the possibility of subconscious bias, whether you take the money or not.

Brad
Guest
Brad

You will do this. You are not nearly as neutral as you claim to be. The only reason you put cc offers on a separate page is because this guise of neutrality helps to increase cc sign ups for your benefit. You consider us, the people who wish to maximize points for travel sustainably, to be gold rushers while you are Mr. Levi trying to capture value from us before this all undoubtedly collapses (which it wouldn’t if you didn’t kill deals.)

Val
Guest
Val

Science says it is not possible for humans to be “unbiased”. Getting the freebie will make you feel more favorable towards the company and there is no way for you to somehow filter that out.

The most interesting thing to me here is that they recognized your name and approached you. I’m going to assume, from now on, that companies are flagging bloggers and so they are having better experiences than joe average while traveling. Even if bloggers are not taking freebies these companies know who they are and might be making special efforts to impress. This will not totally invalidate reviews I see online, but I will have to assume I won’t have the same chance of upgrades or special treatment etc., even with status. For truly unbiased reviews, a blogger would have to use a pen name for publishing and not be known.

Deb
Guest
Deb

I agree with Steve – the Force is strong with this one – and with FlyerM – that there is no doubt – and with FM – that agreeing to write a post in exchange for the free rental is like being paid to write the post. ‘Nuff said.

Phil
Guest
Phil

I would take it. As long as you disclose the deal and write an honest review, I think that anyone who reads your blog should be able to judge for themselves if it’s biased or not. Everyone already has their opinion on your integrity.

Also, I think you have the right to accept an offer like this. Part of the equation in you keeping a blog is to turn a profit. It is your full time job, right? You not paying for that car represents a profit made from having a blog.

One more thing, the poster above had a really good point that this would be a good experiment to see how your experience would differ in the future when you pay for it yourself, compared to when you may get preferential treatment in a comped rental.

Louis
Guest
Louis

I say go for it but don’t think that you will. I find your reviews to be honest, unbiased and universally useful and have complete faith that you would be able to ignore the monetary value of a free car rental when writing your review of the service. It would be no different than if any of us won a contest and told our friends about our experience, both positively and negatively. The experience is what it is, regardless of the cost.

John
Guest
John

Watch the poison scene from the movie “the princess bride” then… Enjoy your free rental and give us your opinion!!!

gaspipe1
Guest
gaspipe1

At this point the experience will be tainted. Not b/c of the free ride BUT b/c they know your plans. If I was the rep from the company I would make sure that your car is perfect condition and waiting for you to arrive. I would make sure that your experience was flawless. Perhaps have a shuttle car waiting for you when you land at the airport. Perhaps add a few more employees around the time you should be coming into the office to pick up your car. This would offer a no wait experience.

Your write up would be nothing but stellar, but obviously this wouldn’t be the case for their normal clients.

One thing that does separate this rental company from the “norm” is they cater to high end clients. And high end clients expect to be pampered and treated a certain way. This company wouldn’t last with poor customer service.

Give them a fake itinerary for a later date, then book a car under an alias. Show up under the alias and see how it goes.

CVG_Kid
Guest
CVG_Kid

I was writing much the same below. Completely agree.

CVG_Kid
Guest
CVG_Kid

Accept and disclose with one contingency: do it in the blind. What do I mean? Accept only on the contingency that reimbursement would be after the fact. You could make a reservation in your name or another name, write your honest review and then be reimbursed after.

Why? It prevents the company from providing extraordinary service which skews the review. Maybe they give you the Porsche with 4 miles on the odometer rather than the one that Jennifer Lawrence threw up in partying in Beverly Hills last week.

Neutrality is not just in your review but in the delivery of services to the reviewer. If you cannot recreate the same conditions your readers will encounter as the basis of your review it is already loaded and no longer neutral and should be turned down.

My nickel’s worth.

asdfasd
Guest
asdfasd

I don’t care if you do it or not. I already assume bloggers are on the take.

Necessary Indulgences
Guest

Take the offer. I’ve rented from this company many times, and it is a complete joy compared to most rental car experiences. Compensated or not, you are going to be hard-pressed to find anything negative to write about, so you might as well take the compensation.

In general, I totally agree with your dilemma, and I think all of your readers value the degree to which you try to remain independent and unbiased. In this case, I wouldn’t worry about it.

RS_WI
Guest
RS_WI

I have been a reader for several years, and never doubted your focus is on delivering good content and based on facts. I can’t recall a single instance of thinking ‘oh gees, pandering or plugging a product.’ So, good on ya!

I do agree with Jamie’s point: Why make this particular service/product the one that overturns your standing policy?

At the same time, if it saves you a bunch of money, go for it. Many of us have traveled for business and been reimbursed for it. Mentally, this should simply be a business expense reimbursement. Your business is writing about travel-related topics and MS. You’ve written several times about Allied Visa. What’s the diff, from a professional standpoint?

Ages ago when I was in the restaurant business, I used to sometimes expense meals at other restaurants as competitive research. It never made me love their meals or service any more than the actual experience dictated– it just covered the dollar cost. It IS possible to separate opinion/bias from expenditure.

If indeed your upcoming rental is with the one we probably all suspect, I think doing a review (reimbursed or not) would be worthwhile for your readers AND, as they probably hope, increase business on their end.. I used them just last week in Phoenix, and had a fantastic experience. Great service, great product, great system, fun vehicle. I will rent from them again in a heartbeat, even if they cost slightly more. This is precisely the type of company more people should know about– pay slightly more (maybe), and get MUCH better experience.

Keep up the great work!

5280 Miles
Guest
5280 Miles

Take it and write an honest review! Simple.

Drew
Guest
Drew

Accept the offer! Most of the people telling you not to would probably take it in a heartbeat in the same circumstances. Just let them know that you will be giving an honest review of your experience and do so. Just pretend you had paid full price when writing the review. Keep in mind it’s easier to be satisfied with a high end service when it’s free than if you had paid sticker price.

bxw11
Guest
bxw11

Don’t do it! When I get tired of reading other popular miles and points blogs I know Frequent Miler will “keep it real.” Don’t become another lame thepointsguy.

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

I have to absolutely commend you for the way in which you share your misgivings about such arrangements. The down sides though,in the long run are simply not worth a rental. In 5 years, what will be more important, the price of the rental, or your possible having to explain for the rest of your life in a disclaimer that this rental company afforded you the use of their cars for free. Life is too short. Long way of saying “Heck No!”

Ziggy
Guest

Let’s get something clear – there is absolutely nothing unethical in accepting a free rental in exchange for writing about the product. Nothing, nada, zilch. If you declare the “gift” and if you’re able to keep an even handed view of things and can write a truly independent review then I can’t see anything wrong with getting the rental for free.

Those claiming that you’d be “tainted” are basically saying that they don’t trust you to be independent. And that’s their problem. It’s amusing to see how they’re fine with getting all the info you produce (for free) then use it to their own advantage and gain….but, suddenly, when you’re offered a freebie, they’re not prepared to take you at your word or trust your integrity. Do you really care what people like that think?

snoptro
Guest
snoptro

I’d love to read your review. The fact that you wrote this sincere question-post means I can trust your review regardless.

A publisher paid me to review one of their textbooks, and I wrote them my honest opinions (ragingly negative). Two weeks later they asked me to rewrite the book.

If you think you can be truthful, and I believe you will be, good things can come out of it, like the company making improvements to their products and services.

memsrr
Guest
memsrr

Take the car, disclose the deal, and trust that your readers are adult enough to know what went on. I trust you enough to believe that you will give an honest review. Why else am I reading your blog. Oh yeah, I could be one of those people who live to bad-mouth anyone and everyone.

Smay
Guest
Smay

I know you. You won’t take it so you can avoid the potential ” appearance of impropriety”. From the beginning your blog has been a leader in so many ways and again I applaud you! That said I personally would prefer that you did take it. I, along with all your readers and disciples have reaped SIGNiFANT gains via your efforts and sharing your knowledge. Anyone reading your blog should, really should, encourage and support opportunities that arise for you to be compensated for your efforts. I use your links and spread that wealth to others who have shared valuable knowledge with me

Smay
Guest
Smay

Significant

Ken
Guest
Ken

SilverCar in San Francisco? When we went to Monterrey last summer it was cheaper to rent an Audi than it was to rent a sub-compact tiny box on wheels.

MrDioji
Guest
MrDioji

It would have a huge impact on your experience, given the way that company works. You could write a review that caveats the actual experience, but then you would just be reviewing their actual cars (which everyone knows are nice) and their prices, which are very straightforward and available before writing a review.

Although if they already know when you plan to use the service, then they already have a leg up on offering you extra prompt, smooth service – regardless of if you take the free rental or not.

Having said that, I think you’ll enjoy the experience either way. It’s a great company from what I’ve seen — and I’ve paid for my rentals 😉

Basically if you wanted to write an unbiased review on your terms, don’t take the free rental. If you weren’t going to review it anyway, but they’re offering you this incentive, then feel free to write a well-disclosed piece — in a new section called “shameless plugs” 😮

Chris
Guest
Chris

Don’t do it! It’s a slippery slope. I value your opinion and blog for the same reason I value Consumer Reports. Keep everything objective!

In the judicial recusal world, a judge should recuse himself if there is even “an appearance of impropriety.” By accepting a free ride, you are creating that appearance! Please don’t!

cruisingflying4life
Guest
cruisingflying4life

NO!!
We respect you for being unbiased.
They can pay you for posting their flyer on your blog (no videos) if they want.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

Total crock of shiite.

You remind me of OneMileAtATime’s post about “Where should I move to?” … a total bogus post in which he already knew he wanted to move to Seattle but played coy to generate traffic.

Well, it has worked for you too…look at all the responses you got.

But I’ve taken my respect for your work down a level because of this.

Ken
Guest
Ken

Los Angeles, not Seattle.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Do it and be honest about it. People can take your review for what it’s worth.

Sophia
Guest

Do it! We know you will be honest. Even if your experience turns out well, you don’t have to find fault.

Is it silver car? It’s a great company anyways!

Neil
Guest
Neil

Definitely not.

You were going to rent from this compay anyhow. That would give us a complete unbiased review, the gold standard. Their offer can only detract from this.

Though in reading your post I’m pretty sure you’ve come to the same conclusion.

Ron
Guest
Ron

You are never wrong when doing what you think is right.

jo
Guest
jo

Personally, I would like to see you not take the offer. Once you are tainted, it’s hard to wash it off.

steve
Guest
steve

Do it! This is why you publish the blog, free travel!

MickiSue
Guest
MickiSue

I think that you should do it. For several reasons. 1) it’s free. Free is good. 2) being aware of the potential conflict should cause you to tilt in favor of exceedingly cautious about being either too much harshness, or too much adulation. 3) (and I mean this sincerely) you have a family, and you are making your living as a blogger. If you cannot stay neutral, despite any monetary incentive to praise ANYTHING–a credit card, a website, a rental agency–ANYTHING, then you need to find another job.

There are too many bloggers who sell their souls for clicks and royalties. You don’t want to become one of them. So give yourself the practice at doing what’s hard–being evenhanded–and that muscle will grow stronger and stronger.

I’ve read reviews of strollers which cost more than a luxury car rental, and the blogger was evenhanded. How many hotel reviews are written by someone who actuallly paid to stay at that hotel? Not many, right?

I’ve been reading your blog long enough to trust that you can do this ethically.

Go for it.

(BTW: I read exactly zero of the many comments already posted, as I didn’t want to be swayed by them.)

Peter
Guest
Peter

I’m with those that urge you to take the offer. Aside from trusting that you’ll do a good job handling the conflict of interest, the question is so what if you end up being biased or being perceived as biased? Your blog to me is mostly about deals, opportunities, and creative uses of websites/portals/etc. If your single post destroys my perception of your ability to review a premium products honestly, guess what? I’ll continue to read your daily posts about MS, discounts, etc all the same. This blog is about maximizing opportunities and I believe you should jump on this one.

Debbie @ Traveling Well For Less
Guest

Take the offer and disclosure upfront – at the top of your blog post per FTC guidelines and not the bottom like some other bloggers.

I’ve done this several times and in all my reviews, I’ve listed both the good and the bad.

Realistically when you think about it, you’re already getting indirectly comped for all your blogs posts. Here’s why: You’re a credit card affiliate. So when you write about a card or how to use those miles and points, etc, you’ve giving both points of views, the pros and cons. And if the reader applies and gets approved, you earn a commission.

This is the same thing but instead of having to wait and see if someone applies, the company is “paying” you up front.

Fairy8i8
Guest
Fairy8i8

Isn’t your blog about getting free or insanely cheap travel? You manage how many RedBird accounts and do all sorts of arbitrage and portal techniques to maximize points and people really think to look down on you for taking a different sort of free travel opportunity? I think a commenter actually worried about the morals of doing it. Really people?

I say start a new series (like the many other useful ones you have done). Call it what it is- free travel or free money for your opinion on travel related stuff. Shouldn’t your readers know how to get in on this gig too if they want to put the time and effort into it? I say take all the opportunities you have time/ desire to do. Set up a place on your blog for it like with the quick deals or best portals, and let the readers decide if they want to subscribe or not. Be open with how they approached you or you approached them, find out what they look for in readership volume, etc. that might be useful to someone who wants to travel blog, and give a review of the product. Of course any review will be bias. Your current reviews are bias because EVERYONE has their own personal bias. There is no such thing as an objective editorial. People are fooling themselves. That’s what double blind studies are for!

Just say, “I am writing this review for a free travel opportunity for a product that I want to try.” I trust your travel taste. If you want to try it, then take it. What’s different about that than blogging about your train trip so you can take part of it as a tax write off? I trust that if you are not interested in a product, you won’t waste your time. You are too busy… Going to Target and now Walmart just to get a Serve account. The things you do for us, your readers.

You may feel bad that these opportunities are not open to all of your readership like most of your deals, but you could be open in helping people learn how to start blogging and using it as a business for more credit card sign ups. Might as well help them make it something others want to read.

I don’t begrudge you any free travel- especially a luxury car (just get them to give you the fanciest thing on the lot)!

Dave
Guest
Dave

You might as well do it. No one cares. It mean one less post about amex gift cards/plastic/applying for multiple BOA cards or things that people do care about. Actually it’s already taken one post so you can probably stretch this out into 5 or six posts. Go for it.

Michele
Guest
Michele

Perks of the trade!

I’d love to see a review of Silvercar.

stvr
Guest
stvr

Did you delete a ton of comments?

goheerow
Guest
goheerow

Do it. Who cares about what others say. The review, no matter how good or bad, has to be taken with a grain of salt anyways since Silvercar or whichever company it is, is going to be on their best behavior and give you the best experience since they know they’re being reviewed.

Marty
Guest
Marty

Yes, do it. I am not concerned at all. You are great at being transparent. I would like to hear how it goes. Or you can do the free one and your wife can do the other to compare?

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

I appreciate your willingness to overthink this. You are not a Catholic priest taking a vow of poverty plus if you don’t take it will reduce the blogs income and threaten future quality of what I read. You are smart enough and ethical enough to write an honest review. Don’t be a choir boy!

Aleks
Guest
Aleks

If you’re worried about potential conflict of interest or being biased with getting a free rental (and I am certain you will love it, they’re awesome), but don’t want to turn them down, you could ask them to instead provide a free rental that you could give away to your readers via some sort of raffle. That way, you get a rental experience unbiased by getting it for free, and they get their promo on your blog.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Don’t do it. You only get one shot at your reputation.

Larry
Guest
Larry

I wouldn’t do it. The “over correct” sounds like a rationalization, and even if it’s not, an “over corrected” review is not valuable to me. In any event, if they know you’re coming how do you know you’re reviewing the product and service in the condition and fashion that we as readers would also receive?

The only reason I can see for you to possibly say yes is to save money on a rental that you were otherwise planning to make by using your blogger status. I don’t think that would make you a bad person or anything, but it’s not a review that I would pay much attention to.

Iolaire McFadden
Guest
Iolaire McFadden

I don’t care if you disclose it and you don’t start making travel choices to odd places based on freebies…

But that being said, based on the fact that you have to ask it might be better if you don’t do it as @Larry suggest.

Cory
Guest
Cory

Depends upon if you feel that it fits what you think the blog is about. I would say go ahead and do it, but try to find a way to get the same experience you would if it was paid. For instance, make sure you wait in line the same way you would, make sure you get the same contract, same printed out bill showing all fees, etc.

OK216
Guest
OK216

I say go for it. As long as you disclose it, I don’t see it as a scandal. You’re going to have some naysayers when you go down that road, but ultimately you just have to follow your own moral compass. They’ll either follow along with you or they won’t, but those that don’t were probably not in your corner to begin with of they don’t trust you.

ATX
Guest
ATX

They are paying for your time. How much is the car rental vs the value of a review? Yes, you can be objective. You are a professional, clearly. In fact my traveler friends get products (clothes etc) to review all the time, plus free trips to review hotels etc. That’s what is often done with bloggers who have a lot of followers. Sponsorships are the way to go.

David
Guest
David

I think the question you should be asking yourself, is do you think that writing about this rental car company is an important post for your readers. I think the majority of us trust you enough to assume that you’ll give us relatively honest feedback. But would you be making this post at all if it wasn’t for the offer?

u600213
Guest
u600213

I am guessing its Silvercar. Take the free car. Plenty of other reviews of them. What good is blogger privilege if you don’t use it 🙂

ucipass
Guest
ucipass

The fact you have to ask makes me think you have doubts so. …..unless you want to generate traffic.

Otherwise since you disclose it people should know better .

Just like Dan’s deals sponsored deals…..

P.L
Guest
P.L

Please do! I trust your ability to remain unbiased. If someone doesn’t like it, they can take a flying leap

will s
Guest
will s

do it — WITH disclosure.

even better, share the wealth.

That is, ok, they gave me a free test drive — with the understanding I’m a travel blogger, and folks do read my columns…..

Sooooo…… have them also give you a link to a super duper discount promo where we can try it out too…. ya know, “trust, but verify”

thanks for asking.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

Don’t do it. This blog is provides for your way of life. You earn plenty of income from this site to afford a car rental. Have them place an ad on your site in exchange for the free rental.

Jane
Guest

I would advise not accepting a free rental. You had written a few years ago about not having credit card links because you didn’t want to get accused of pushing these links whether the offer is a good one or not. I feel the same way about this rental. As much as blogger say that their opinion is their own, you can’t help but wonder if they are being influenced subconsciously because it is a free gift. I’m sure you’ll think about it quite a bit and come to a conclusion that works for you.

T E
Guest
T E

Go for it. If/When you write it up, just make sure its disclosed that they covered the rental fee and as long as they don’t bribe you one way or the other to give them an extra good review (AKA be unbiased), you’ll be good. I would enjoy reading it.

John
Guest
John

Your “except” says it all:

“Agreeing to write a post in exchange for a free rental is basically the same as being paid to write a post. I have been approached a couple of times before by companies that asked to pay me to write about their products or services. I’ve always turned down those offers without hesitation. Isn’t this the same thing?”

With that principle, I say definitely do not accept it.

I have appreciated your “independence” in the past and I know others have too. You might start to taint it by accepting such gifts (though there would be nothing wrong with doing that if it is how you wanted to operate).

Terry
Guest
Terry

The rental price is small potatoes compared to the value of the brand you have created. Pay the rental fee. Write the blog post. Keep your integrity without question. If you have to ask, you already have your answer. Looking forward to your sessions this weekend.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Greg,

If I’m not mistaken you actually did do something like this a few years ago with the award booking services from Milevalue so this would not be the first time. No matter how objective you are going to be, it can never be a true unbiased review because Silvercar is going to do everything in their power to make sure it is a topflight experience, and not just some everyday rental that wouldn’t have the same amount of concern attached to it.

Dia
Guest

This is standard practice in the Mommy Blogger world. To keep your readers’ respect disclose, disclose, and disclose again. If you’re transparent, it shows. If you’re shady, it shows.

You have a deep base of credibility. As long as you’re straight with readers, you’ll be fine.

DadOBoys
Guest
DadOBoys

Be consistent and stick to your principles.
I have no problem with you getting free stuff in exchange for reviews, but if you drew a line in the past, I would hate to see that the thought of a free luxury car rental caused you to cross your personal boundaries.
I continue to appreciate that you take your job seriously enough to regularly think through the ethics of a particular situation. Thanks

Mason
Guest
Mason

Take it

The Mean Farmer
Guest
The Mean Farmer

You hack travel for a living right? Whats the difference here?

Robert
Guest
Robert

I don’t really understand the reasons for doing it, unless you are really short on cash, which I doubt you are. At which point, you should then sell your reputation like Gary Leff and publish a post with top 10 credit cards every week, littered with your affiliate links.

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William
Guest

Big deal if you take it. If readers are only going by your comments alone, then they shouldn’t be traveling anyways. Take advantage of the freebies when they come your way. This is America, it doesn’t happen that often. No disrespect to you, but when I read your deals that are of interest to me, I do my homework and look for more reviews or tips to confirm. Comfort rests with the majority.

Suzzanne
Guest
Suzzanne

I got your email synopsis today regarding this situation. 2 of the comments stood out to me the most:

“You hack travel for a living right? Whats the difference here?” Yes, I guess it’s called “travel hacking” to some but I see your writing in a more ethical vein than some travel hacking bloggers. That’s why I refer to your blog more than others. “Anything goes” is not your style.

The other quote: “Whenever there’s a doubt, there is no doubt.” That’s comparable to the one I would tell our babysitters when they questioned what the kids would ask to do “if in doubt. . .don’t”.

Your decision was a good one and this thread has been a reminder to many that ethics and discernment matter. Thanks.

Last Monday we returned home from a trip to Italy to see our daughter. If you remember I had emailed you asking for any suggestions regarding rental car. Our car was a memorable experience. It wasn’t my first choice, it wasn’t the offered upgrade to an elite brand. It was silver ;-). I loved the size, room for luggage, the feel of the gear shift, the backseat was comfortable, easy to park, pick up when passing. It became part of the good trip memories.

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