Below is an email from the person running the App review site that offers up Paid App reviews in iTunes we talked about / exposed in this post.   His email is in Blue my comments are in Black.  If you have not read the original post - please do so now.  


Dear Rob Walch,

I've just read your article re YAR

As you can easily imagine, I'm very surprised and upset by this smear campaign against our company. 

I call it an awareness campaign and it is not against your company but rather it is for the endusers.  


The most disturbing is that your scenario is only based on assumptions.

Read the original article I give links to all the reviewers and list the apps they reviewed - That is not assumption that is fact.  The Assumption is that the App developers actually paid you - I have no proof of that - but what is not an assumption is that said reviewers from that article reviewed with 4 and 5 star reviews all the Apps I listed and for the most part only those apps listed. 

 

If I had to post a review on your report, I would put no more than 2 stars.

Then that would probably be the first 2 star review your company ever did.  I guess that would be considered progress. 


YES YAR offers developers to test their Apps by real users. YES developers pay for it. YES users are paid for performing their review.

What's wrong with that? 

To Start - Where is the Full and Fair disclosure?  There is no mention in the reviews that they are paid for. Not one of them says that. Any paid review system needs to have Full and Fair disclosure.   


User test is one of the key tools for any good marketing process. It has been part of the basics used by any marketing agency for decades. Have you never used such services inside or outside your company? It's quite normal when you launch a new product to ask real users whether or not your product is responding to their expectations, whether or not they understand how to use it, whether or not they find the interface intuitive... And the most important is that, if they don't appreciate it, they can advise about the areas for improvement.

Yes and that is done in private without posting up reviews to a public site where said product is available for sale.  And it is never done where a person is paid for doing a review does not fully disclose said relationship with the company. I don't think you fully grasp the concept of full and fair disclosure.  But the FTC sure does. You might want to check into what they say. The fines can be pretty big.  


Why did you mainly find positive reviews? Our reviewers are free to give positive or negative feedback. However, If you had read our offer in more details, you would have seen that only positive reviews are automatically published. The negative reviews are forwarded to the developers to help them improve their Apps. They then decide if they want them published or not which explains why some of the Apps you've mentioned only have a couple of reviews even if our minimum package size is 5 reviews.

So they are paying for just positive App reviews in iTunes.  Are you essentially saying that some reviewers have ethics and give real reviews while others sugar coat things.  Because when I look at many of the Apps you appear to have reviewed and you take away all the reviews you did - you are left with lots of 1 and 2 star reviews. 

Take a look at the reviews for the App HealthCalcs.  Reviewers from your service gave 20 - 4 or 5 star reviews.  The App has a total of 26 reviews.  Of the other 6 reviews that do not appear to be involved with your service there are ZERO 4 or 5 star reviews - Zero as in nada, zip, none,  There is 1 - Three Star review, 2 - Two star reviews and 3 - One star reviews.  So your App reviewers which are doing "honest" reviews all thought the App was great.  And everyone else that was not being paid to review the App thought it sucked or at best one was in the middle at 3 stars.  Hmmmmm. What are the statistical possibilities on that one. 

The assertion that they/you are doing "Honest" reviews is laughable IMO. Well unless you were someone that purchased one of the apps mentioned and then you probably were not laughing.  Now in fairness - because we are all about fairness - one of the apps I mentioned in the original post did have some 4 and 5 star reviews from those outside your group. Sadly now however all reviews look suspect from the consumers perspective. 


NO, YAR doesn't sell positive reviews. 

Sure seems like you do.  


We offer to the App developers a chance to see their App tested by real users in the sole purpose of having a feedback. As I've said to you by email (04/29/10) "We are not posting fake reviews. Our reviewers are real iPhone and iPod users.  We don't pay them to post fake positive reviews but to give their honest opinion re Apps".

It's true that students are part of our reviewer team. For them it's a way of earning some dollars to finance their studies and we are proud of supporting them. As some of them don't own an iPad, they use one of ours and review the Apps using one of our iTunes accounts. That's why our accounts have multiple Apps reviewed which can sometimes be conflicting. Our customers are aware of it and have never complained about it. Our practice is perfectly honest and we have never tried to hide it. Yes some of our students seek the soul mate, some try hard to lose weight, some are marathon runners... and one of them has lost a loved one and has kindly accepted to test a relating App.

I am not saying that is Total BS - but come on.  Really your answer to why one reviewer reviewed a subliminal weight loss app and a Marathon App is that they are college students and don't have their own iPad?  Really - So what you are then saying is they are doing reviews for apps on a product they don't own - so then they are not real reviews by real users.  Well I bet that section looked good before you hit send.  But come on - They shared an iPad defense is a poor one at best.  Per the App with loss of a loved one either the Dev or Apple yanked that one from the App store. It was pretty slimy to include that app for review with your service.  But thanks to admitting that they paid for that one.  


I hope I have clarified our way to conduct business. I also hope you understand that your comments have been very hurtful for us but above all for our reviewers and our customers.

What is that old saying - Oh Yeah - The Truth Hurts. And as my Dad would say - Deal with it.


As a right of reply, I would appreciate to see this complete letter published on your blog (http://tii.libsyn.com) and I would like you to remove from your article the names of our reviewers and customers in order to prevent them to sue your company for libel.

It is not libel if it is true - Tell me one thing I said that is not true.  So simple answer NO!!!!!  Actually I have put up a second post here  with even more of the apps and reviewers you appear to be involved with.  And I am sure I will be adding more as you add more customers and reviewers.  Consumers have a right to know who appears to be paying for app reviews and who appears to be getting paid to do reviews. If all your reviews are so above board and legit - why not just post on your site who you do App reviews for and who is doing the reviews for you?  Until you do that there are my posts and others in the iPhone Podcasting and blogging space to help people out.   

 
Thanks in advance.

Sincerely, 
Alan Kane

Founder of YourAppReviewed

Alan thanks for taking the time to reply to my post and per your request - above is your complete email.  

Please feel free to send along more emails. 

Category:breaking news -- posted at: 12:09am EST
Comments[4]

  • Hahaha...rob you totally called him out when you said "Then that would probably be the first 2 star review your company ever did. I guess that would be considered progress." OWNED

    posted by: Brian G. on 2010-05-23 03:44:05

  • Wow. If Alan listened to your show, he may have rethunk his email, but kudos to him trying to defend himself, though diminishing himself as a mental midget in the process. I mean mental "little person". How one tries to defend something categorily wrong is always facinating, but the line by line rebuttals by Rob are awesome. Nice Job! I will happily contribute any pittance to pay the 5 minute defence on any so called libel levied against Rob. Reminds me of school kid threatening "My Dad's gonna sue you" after his nose gets justifiably bloodied.

    posted by: Dave in Cowtown on 2010-05-22 15:21:45

  • YAR is so altruistic helping out those students--then, only publishing the good reviews. A person going into an office and using a borrowed iPad to do a review cannot be a real-life experience with an ap, except perhaps with a game. That alone negates the reliability. Pretty lame. In fact, his whole rational is lame. Keep up the good work, Rob. You are looking out for us--the consumer.

    posted by: JB on 2010-05-19 21:06:13

  • Thanks for this "expos". The App Store is not a great shopping experience, as it is, but made even more difficult with pointless, or in this case, "extruded" reviews. My method, for what it's worth, is to wait until I see a prospective addition remaining in the Top 100 for its category for at least a month. Then I go to its reviews and look pointedly at the "Most Critical", searching for the reviews that point out specific functional complaints. If I can live with its reported problems, I buy it. I wouldn't want to give the impression that all of my App Store purchases are as well thought out. I'm vulnerable to the impulse buy, too, though I have to say that most of those wind up on the last page, or take up space in my app "remainders bin" until possibly improved by updates. I should also say that I tend to stick to "Productivity" type apps, so I don't have to wend my way through opinion reviews of games.

    posted by: Dakota Bill on 2010-05-19 11:04:31

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