3 Reasons The Reviewer Card Is a Bad Idea

The Los Angeles Times published an article yesterday on the Reviewer Card, the brainchild of entrepreneur Brad Newman to help people that write reviews get better service from the places they visit.

reviewer card

The theory is that if you flash your Reviewer Card at a restaurant or store, you’ll get better treatment from the employees or other special perks. My friend Erik forwarded me the article with a request: “Please promise me you won’t get one of these.”

Damn right I won’t.

As a blogger that often writes reviews of services, products, and travel destinations, I can’t imagine how something like this in any way improves the review process. In fact, 3 reasons pop up right away why it’s dumb.

Reason #1: Authenticity

Bloggers like myself strive for authenticity with our readers. We give our honest feedback about the products and services we test out. Having an authentic experience is important – if you treat me differently from a regular customer, then my review isn’t representative of a typical experience with your company.

I often have companies offer to send me a product directly. When they do, I will only write about the product as I receive it and use it – and usually skip writing about the company. Why? I didn’t experience their customer service. On the other hand, if they offer me a gift card to use to shop on their site, then I’m more than happy to provide feedback on how easy it was to search, what their product selection looks like, how fast the shipping was, etc.. Because I actually experienced their service the way a normal customer would. That’s important to me.

Reason #2: Usefulness

I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay for upgrades for VIP treatment very often. So when I read a review of a hotel chain, I don’t want to hear about how awesome it was in the Presidential Suite. I bet it’s awesome there, because the staff knows you’re shelling out a bunch of dough for a high-end experience. I’m much more likely to reserve the standard room with double queen beds, so that’s what I want to hear about when I read reviews. Were the standard beds comfortable? Was the standard room service prompt? Did housecleaning knock on your door at 6am interrupting you from an amazing dream about Channing Tatum? That’s useful feedback to me. Not stuff about upgrades that the average patron doesn’t receive.

Reason #3: Entitlement

Just because you write reviews on a website doesn’t make you better than anyone else. Sure, you have some implied power because your experience will be shared with a bigger audience than the average person, but that doesn’t mean companies should bow to you when you walk in because they don’t want you to give a negative review.

Here’s a little secret – when companies want reviewers to write good stuff about them, they plan for it. They invite media to cover an event and they’re ready for them when they arrive to ensure the experience goes well. It’s a planned marketing tool and it makes sense – show someone such a good time that they can’t help but tell their readers how awesome you are.

Every company should be doing a similar version of this for their customers anyway. Want people to spend their money on your stuff? Treat them well. Have employees that are empowered to answer questions and resolve issues. Train your staff to be pleasant and courteous no matter whom they’re helping.

The world doesn’t need people flashing Reviewer Cards expecting preferential treatment. The world needs more authentic, useful, honest feedback that helps consumers make educated decisions and also helps companies identify areas that truly need improvement.



  1. I couldn’t agree more. When I am reviewing a product or service where I have to go through the normal channels to secure said product or service, I specifically do NOT tell them I’m reviewing the product/service. It keeps the interaction genuine and I get to see what the company’s REALLY like, not just what they want the public to see in my review.

    The Reviewer’s Card is just stupid for any serious reviewer. Now, if you’re in it for the “Free Stuff” (which I have yet to find) then this is exactly right for you, I guess.

  2. OMG!!! NO!!! This is the most obnoxious thing I have ever seen! Although I do a few bloggers who use that “card” already, albeit metaphorically!

  3. The idea of a reviewer card is ridiculous. To me it says that the card holder thinks he is entitled to better service than everyone else…and it actually hurts everyone but him, even the business! I have worked in the server industry and from time to time we would get a reviewer and basically had to worship the ground that they walked on and treated them better than the other customers. This always ended up badly, because 1) the other customers received sub-par service and 2) they turned around and complained to the managers!

  4. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    Thank you! I am sad to know that this thing is even out there. I read a lot of blogs and a lot of reviews. Reading blogs is one of the ways that I discover new things and has influenced most of my purchases in the last few years. I want to think that the reviewer approached the item or service in the same way that I might–as an ordinary consumer. I usually don’t even mind “bad” reviews as long as I know why–something that does not work for you might work for me. Knowing this card exists makes me question the experience the reviewer had vs. the experience I might have.

  5. I completely agree! Especially about authenticity. Who cares how a company treats their best clients, I care how they treat ALL their clients!

  6. I like the idea as long as the reviewers disclose that they carry the cards. Some of my favorite reviews are the ones that are done about the suites and exclusive packages. There will always be plenty of people who post crappy reviews. This would be a way to really make the positive ones shine and it’s a well deserved perk for the time and effort of writing the review.

  7. Great post!

  8. Never knew there was such a thing! Reminds me of those food critic tales, and those stories always ended up with the food critics admonishing anyone that would gloat about being a food critic whilst in the restaurant they are reviewing!

    Sounds like common sense, but yes, these are all legitimate and notable reasons not to have and then flash a review card!

  9. laurie nykaza says:

    The card seems like such a bad idea. Everyone should be treated the same .

  10. Karen Propes says:

    I so agree with you, to me it’s like flashing a $100 bill to get good service. I want to review from a everyday person’s point of view and not from advance notice, better give me good service and I will praise you in a review. I know there have been times I thought I wish I could explain to these places that bad service is reported along with good service on reviews. I also want to read reviews on products or service for me to make my choice on them, not on a review that was received with an advance notice to company. Thanks, I had not heard about this and I would never get one of them.

  11. I didn’t know this existed, and I’m certain it would garner a lot more positive customer service and product (slightly better meal, extra goodies thrown in, etc). I want to read what the average consumer experiences- not the absolute best the company can muster.

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