For the first time in 13 years of the Phoblographer’s history, we’re removing all stars from a product review. There are a few times where we’ve encountered brand managers sending us long essays as an email complaining about the review we penned of their product. But every single time, we’ve published something the product deserved. As the head of the Phoblographer for 13 years, I believe in being as honest and transparent as possible. Actually, no. I take that statement back. I’ve pushed us to be overly transparent. And I’ve strongly encouraged and taught our staff to shamelessly lean into their feelings about the products they’re reviewing. For the first time we’re removing all stars from a product. The product is the Sunny 16 Voyager Camera backpack, and below is an explanation why.
The removal of all stars from the review comes after receiving email and comments about the product never being delivered. I completely understand why someone would think that the review is sponsored placement, even despite awarding it only 2 out of 5 stars. Of course, folks wouldn’t know just how reviews work and that we don’t do sponsored reviews of products.
When I reviewed the Sunny 16 Voyager, I originally called it in because I wanted it to have all the things I wished other camera bag manufacturers delivered. Honestly, no one has yet made the perfect camera bag. This bag, however, seemed close to it. When I started to test it, though, things changed quite a bit. The divider system, which is central to the Sunny 16 Voyager, was faulty and problematic to the point where I believed that the bag was useless. In fact, I threw it out.
After our review was published, the manufacturer emailed me asking to remove the review. You can see our review here.
Clearly, they didn’t know who they were talking to. I’ve worked with and communicated with several small business owners who play that card. The Phoblographer is also a small business. Further, we just were granted Certified Minority Owned Business status. And so, I responded in kind.
Last year I started to receive emails from customers about this issue and the Sunny 16 Voyager not even being delivered. Then I looked at our review. In truth, I seldom read our comments, and our system does a great job at mitigating any issues in them. But when I looked at our comments and saw a few folks also express that problems were occuring, something became fishy. They were all saying the same things about bags not coming in, having problems with communications, etc.
So with that said, it makes the most sense to do this. I find it the most humane thing to do is to remove all stars from the bag review. I never liked it and the bag has a slew of issues. But on top of that, they’ve got problems servicing their customers.
With this said, I don’t recommend anyone buy this bag. And if the company has problems with their other bags or products, I’d recommend staying far away.