CSN Stores – Product Review

I’m going to be a greedy blogger. I hope you don’t mind. CSN Stores sells a bunch of different items, like bar tables and stools, but I still harbor a fodness for their cookware. They have offered me some gift certificates or products to give away to you, my incredibly good looking readers, in the past.

But this time, well, I am feeling just a wee bit ton greedy. This time I will be keeping the $75 gift certificate and using it myself. I really do enjoy my give aways, but here is where you come in: Wanna suggest something I need to try? I already have a surprising amount of kitchen stuff, but there is always the urge for more. Or maybe silverware or new plates. I have no idea. This is where you guys come in.

18 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    Have a giveaway. You have enough kitchen stuff.

  2. Anonymous said:

    At the very least keep that you got the gift card and that you want to keep it to yourself. Just ask for suggestions for a cool new kitchen item. Tacky.

  3. Youch – sorry guys. Wasn't trying to be a douche (honestly). Just hoping for some insight for you guys, and some clarity of disclosure on my end (as opposed to “look at this thing that magically came here out of no where”).

  4. While I would LOVE to win something cool like that, if you want to keep it and it doesn't go against their rules they why not keep it? Let us know what you get and how it works

  5. Anonymous #2 – Huh? How is full disclosure tacky? More importantly, it's a blog on the internet, so who cares what's tacky? Certainly not you if you're making a snide passive-aggressive comment anonymously, right?

    Guys, bloggers are not obligated to give you things. If you want to demand something you're not entitled to and take offense when you don't get it, go to your parents.

  6. Sue Rock said:

    Neither tacky, nor douchey. Have fun shopping – get something cool!

  7. -S said:

    I'll be honest (since you asked for feedback on twitter). I have issues with blog reviews of products that were either “given away for free” by a company, or made by companies that sponsor said blog (by giving things away). And by issues I mean, it drops my trust level to 0.

  8. S – if they give a negative review or have in the past for a product they've received, does it restore that trust?

  9. -S said:

    Kevin: unfortunately, no, because in all fairness, why would I trust a negative comment either? Maybe the reviewer now has a beef with the company because they decided no to give away free products anymore, what do I know? You can't make up for driving over a kitten by adopting one the next day. How's that for a subtle metaphor 🙂

    To be honest, few web sites divulge how they acquire products, so I'm fooled very often I'm sure.

    When Albany Eats discuss a restaurant, I'll read it because I'm making the assumption she is paying for it; when she goes for free (or win a raffle), I trust she'll mention it (and she did).

    I'll still read a product review and extract some nuggets, especially the ones that rely on a reproducible metric. Say, you are reviewing a rice cooker (bear with me, I don't know squat about kitchenware), which is advertised to cook rice under 5 mins. You try it 3 times, and it took more than 10 mins each time. Seems a fair experiment, right? I'm still not going to trust that assessment 100%, mind you, because the company had control over the sample they sent you, but I'll keep that red flag in mind.

    Now if at the end of the review you discuss the *value* of that product (bang for your buck), then you lost me. Twice actually. You can't discuss the value of something you didn't really buy, and it does cast a shadow on the whole review because now I'm starting to question your ethics 🙂

    It's not all black & white, but if you don't pay for it, then you have to be very very careful, in my opinion.

    But who cares about my opinion 🙂

  10. B said:

    1: I also saw the twitter request for comment. And yes this sounds — it sounds pretty bad. Then again, many bloggers try to affect a certain style and voice, so maybe you're going for something there. Who knows. But here's basically how you sound:

    You: Well hello there four year old kid, I just got this awesome candy that you probably like for free, and usually I give it away to four year old kids. But I want you to know that this time I'm keeping it, and as a BONUS you can tell me how to eat it.

    Four Year Old Kid: Cry.

    2: -S has a point, and it's really about transparency. This is why good restaurant reviewers disguise their identities when dining somewhere for a review; even if the staff doesn't blatantly give them something for nothing, you have no idea if the kitchen put effort into the food that they wouldn't otherwise, etc.

    Point is, even beyond the issue of the reviewer raving just to keep their supplies rolling in, you don't know what else is going on. I'll use photo gear as an example only because it's what I know. There are a lot of blogs and sites out there that review things like lenses. Now, one big possible flaw in a lens is inconsistent manufacture; some have pretty amazing quality for the price, but only if you get lucky and score one of the 20% that are that excellent. When the maker sends out lenses for review, you think they just randomly pluck one off the assembly line? Of course not, they get pre-vetted to ensure the reviewer has the best example possible. And if there does happen to be an issue, do you think the customer service that the reviwer gets would the be same for you and I?

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg, just to see how it feels.

    Of course, it is possible for someone to be totally nonbiased. It's just hard to tell. Again, transparency helps, a lot. But is no guarantee. The fact is, honest people are honest and dishonest people are dishonest, no matter what their source or how they deliver information. And especially on the Internet, in the world of social networking and competitive blogging (would love to see that in the Olympics), don't doubt at all that people are clever enough to tell the liars from the crooks.

    Look, we know why they gave you the gift cert. No need to play coy, on either side. You can do what you want with it, but if you're going to, then actually do what you want with it. But nice job giving them added value here; now you mention them TWICE, now and then again when you buy something! I'm sure that makes an impression on anyone else watching.

  11. Anonymous said:

    It IS Thanksgiving next week… maybe you could donate the $75 to a local organization who GIVES AWAY FREE DINNERS! Jazz their kitchen up a little, hmm?

  12. Chelle said:

    My thoughts on this, since you asked, and only because you asked…

    If it's within their rules, then I don't see any problem with keeping it for yourself.

    I probably wouldn't have mentioned it that way though. To the extent I agree with Anonymous #2, there was probably a way to get their name out without mentioning that part. JMHO.

    However, Anonymous #2, being such the Tacky Cop, should really know that telling someone they're tacky is the height of tackiness itself. Pot meet kettle.

  13. Chelle said:

    My thoughts on this, since you asked, and only because you asked…

    If it's within their rules, then I don't see any problem with keeping it for yourself.

    I probably wouldn't have mentioned it that way though. To the extent I agree with Anonymous #2, there was probably a way to get their name out without mentioning that part. JMHO.

    However, Anonymous #2, being such the Tacky Cop, should really know that telling someone they're tacky is the height of tackiness itself. Pot meet kettle.

  14. Chelle said:

    Sorry for the double post.

  15. I think you've got to cut Jane some slack. I wholeheartedly believe Jane gives us honest opinions. This is Albany Eats, not Consumer Reports or Cook's Illustrated. I think it is unfair to hold her to the those standards. And we are talking about a gift certificate that was issued to be used for an unknown product by unknown user. Both are determined after the gift certificate is sent out. Just my 2 cents…

    Back to the original question, I'm surprised at how often I use a pasta pot with an insert. If I were shopping for me, I'd get a shiny new roasting pan or maybe a big kick-ass stock pot.

  16. -S said:

    Jon: Jane asked for feedback, and it's because I think she is a honest, well intentioned person that I gave her my opinion. I wouldn't bother for any random d-bag 🙂 I still want her to come back to my birthday party, damn'it! I think I'm a honest person as well (it's not a question, don't answer that!), but I stay clear from giveaways and gear reviews on my own blog because *I* don't think I'm capable of putting myself in the shoes of a consumer if I don't acquire the product myself. That, and nobody gives me free stuff 🙂

  17. For comparisons sake, here is my post from when I decided to take CSN money for myself:

    http://fussylittleblog.com/2010/08/28/something-new-for-the-flb/

    The thing is that Jane and I do this stuff for free. We are crazy to write like we do just for kicks. Occasionally, when the opportunity presents itself, I think it is nice to take your reward.

    I'm just pissed because they keep giving her mire money than they give me. Bastards.

  18. Wow. After some of these vicious comments, you should buy yourself some kleenex.

    But seriously, you deserve free stuff too. Most of us don't have the gumption to start and manage a food blog to get the free stuff in the first place.

    CNS stores also has tons of stuff (non-kitchen related) for Christmas gifts.

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