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Alienware Admit Trying to Fiddle Reviews

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the bad-actions dept.

260

An anonymous reader writes "Alienware seem to have admitted threatening review sites with no future hardware unless positive reviews are written about their products. Hexus.net attempted to obtain a recent Alienware system and were rebuffed in an email claiming that their last review had scuppered the chances of them getting any hardware to review in the future. Follow-up emails confirmed this was part of Alienware's global marketing strategy. " I've read through the whole article and it would appear that the above is what the rep said. Now, granted, one would hope that's one person in that company, but still bad form.

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Surprising? (5, Interesting)

dpaluszek (974028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641297)

I think not. They have always had over-priced, flashy cases with mediocre hardware. And do you think most companies give out free hardware to get "C" grade reviews? No, of course not. This is just part of the marketing game.

Re:Surprising? (2, Insightful)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641407)

Yeh, but alienware should expect poor reviews. There is really nothing they can do about it as they overcharge and it is impossible to get better than top-of-the-line components. The way they price their machines puts it into enthusiast territory and the majority of enthusiasts are capable of building / finding much more powerful machines for the same cost or the same machine for far less. If alienware got rid of / reduced the cost of what amounts to $500 cases they may get better reviews....

Re:Surprising? (2, Insightful)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641519)

Alienware isn't about selling the steak, its about selling the sizzle. If your review is going to quash my sizzle then you are no longer of use to me. By promoting 'good reviews' it furthers Alienware's ability to sell the sizzle and so on.

Re:Surprising? (2, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641577)

...and thus begins Alienware's "Dell Era"....

Re:Surprising? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641681)

They were shit long before Dell bought them.

Re:Surprising? (3, Insightful)

HardSide (746961) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642017)

So very very true, but while on the subject many companies do that, when I used to review games for a site way back in the day, the distributor didn't wanna give us some games because of the bad reviews we gave out. Suprisingly one game company, completely forgot the name of both the company and game.They were so astounished by what their game got as in review points (it was really bad) that they sent us a copy of their next game to review for them before releasing it, thinking we had a better outlook on the game then most of the other websites. Moral of the story is, don't hide your mistakes, embrace it and fix them.

Re:Surprising? (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641583)

I understand that. Their "sizzle" is $500 computer cases though. If they had a true no BS performance machine with a cheaper case thus reducing total cost I bet they would get better reviews without scamming their customers (by only letting good reviews out).

Try Falcon (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642055)

A wealthy friend of my wife's came to me saying she wanted to buy the best PC, and money wasn't an object. She doesn't know enough to put together her own system, but her work does require a powerful system since she does financial work including the use of fractal something or other in futures investing. Stuff I don't understand, but she runs Mathematica and Maple and the fancy graphical displays of those programs. She also plays around in Second Life and blah blah blah. Someone else had told her about Alienware, but she sensibly decided those machines were too gaudy.

So I told her to check out Falcon. I mean, I'd much rather put my system together myself, but this Falcon system she got was gorgeous. The case was just stunning (which was important to my friend) and inside the case you could really tell that someone had spent a lot of time organizing things properly, trimming cables, etc.

And the system is just wicked-fast. SLI, the whole nine yards. Drivers were all updated and there weren't even any of those shareware teaser programs like Dell and Gateway put on their machines. It was simply a beautiful PC for someone who could afford it.

I don't know about dropping over $7k on a PC that I'm going to have to upgrade in 18 months anyway, even if it does include two 21" LCD monitors. But she's as happy as if she'd just blown Brad Pitt. God I hope she doesn't read this.

Re:Surprising? (5, Informative)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641505)

And do you think most companies give out free hardware to get "C" grade reviews?


Which is why Consumer Reports has always bought their own hardware. Review sites get customized, tweaked hardware, versions not sold in stores, and are effectively on the the dole by accepting both advertisements and "review" hardware from advertisers. The only thing thats surprising here is the the Marketing Drone actually let the review know the reality, not done for precisely this reason. Obviously this reviewer is new to the scene, in that he's at all surprised by this.

One of the car rags touched on this years ago, they described it as "damning with faint praise", when you get a bad product in you still give a positive review, but throw in lots of qualifiers. "Quality is what you expect at this price point", "Ample ashtrays are provided", etc.

They have always had over-priced, flashy cases with mediocre hardware.

And what is your gripe? Are you the reviewer? Overpriced, perhaps, but you are flat out lying with the statement "mediocre hardware". Premium hardware at premium prices is far more accurate, the one thing I don't recall them ever doing is skimping on the $5,000 desktops.

Re:Surprising? (5, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641557)

Which is why Consumer Reports has always bought their own hardware.
Not getting any free toys or invitations to events with free drinks and food kind of defeats the purpose of setting up a review site...

At least that's what I gathered from the ones I've seen... ;)

Re:Surprising? (1)

HardSide (746961) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642091)

I know a few people that run websites for the fans not for the merchandise. I rather seen fan-based websites then garbage like firingsquad who review the latest crap and give it great reviews because they get free stuff.

If you run a website just to get free stuff = not loyal to your viewers and your more of a corporation then anything.

Anybody notice how ign.com always puts resident evil games as #1 on all their lists? Its disguisting, im sure they gonna be the first ones to review the newest Resident evil game for this.

Re:Surprising? (2, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642155)

I always wondered what review sites like "tomshardware" did with the piles of expensive video boards they must accumulate. Can they trade hardware for hookers and booze?

Re:Surprising? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641819)

Um.. actually, for they price, yes they do use mediocre hardware. They have long been sub-par compared to other high-end manufacturers such as Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc. Yes, with Alienware you really are paying an extra $1000 for a $200 case.

HardOCP too (5, Informative)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642043)

HardOCP buys their review systems through retail channels and tests their tech support while posing as a regular customer. They're one of the few hardware sites that reviews the "consumer experience" instead of just the hardware.

Re:Surprising? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642265)

Premium hardware at premium prices is far more accurate, the one thing I don't recall them ever doing is skimping on the $5,000 desktops.


IMHO, their laptops are a bit on the mediocre side, especially in the battery life department. Then again, anyone buying a laptop for gaming deserves what they get. ;-)

Their hardware is by no means junk. It's just that you can often get the same hardware from somewhere else in a different case for much less. But then again, some people are willing to pay for a name, even though Alienware went through some quality control and customer service problems about 1.5-2 years ago. Maybe this has changed since Dell bought them.

Worked for Apple (1, Troll)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641551)

"They have always had over-priced, flashy cases with mediocre hardware"

Don't knock this business model. It kept Apple going in the years prior to OS-X and the iPod.

Re:Worked for Apple (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641605)

Oh no he di'nt!

Re:Worked for Apple (3, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641843)

You should check Apple's latest prices, now that we can do apples to apples comparisons.

I think you'll find that the hardware is relatively fairly priced, although most is higher level (except for the Macbook - still using a Core Duo - bah). $2500 for a dual Woodcrest system? That's an awesome price.

Now, for the upgrades, they're on the order of Dell's pricing - far too expensive for what you get.

Re:Worked for Apple (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641949)

"You should check Apple's latest prices, now that we can do apples to apples comparisons."

Yes, things are pretty good now. That is why I mentioned the situation as being one in the past, prior to OS-X and other changes. You know, those mid-1990s machines from Apple that were as fast as PCs from two years before, but cost about twice as much as the PCs of the current year. "Yesterday's power at twice today's price."

Re:Worked for Apple (3, Insightful)

Weston O'Reilly (1008937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642073)

That's the problem with PCs and their fanboys - you mistake "flash" for "design". Apple's designs are functional - there are no alien head ornaments or strange plastic bubbles attached for "looks". If you honestly can't see that when comparing an Alienware case to the Mac Pro tower case, you're hopeless.

Re:Worked for Apple (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642203)

"Apple's designs are functional - there are no alien head ornaments or strange plastic bubbles attached for "looks". "

You obviously don't remember the Apple Cube and its accompanying jellyfish-like cable tangle.

Re:Surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642143)

And, when you toss in the fact that they absolutely hate Linux/FOSS and adamantly
refuse to support it, there's really no story here.

They had a booth at last February's Miami Hamboree, and I specifically (and politely)
asked them about Linux, and they told me that they refuse to have anything to do with it.
They don't know if it will work on their hardware, and they won't take the time to try it.

I suspect that their boxes are predominantly re-covered Sagers (e.g. 9750 et al) that can
be obtained in more conventional cases from other vendors, some of which have customers
who have actually installed various distros of Linux on them and have gotten them to work.

Alienware, OTOH, would probably cancel your warranty (such as it is) if you were to introduce
an alien operating system to their hardware. Well, maybe, depends on what Mikey thinks is
good for his business these days. I scratched Alienware off the list a long time ago and
won't even consider a dual-drive box from them, solely because of their attitude.

Alien marketing practices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641299)

This happens with almost every large company on Earth too!

Re:Alien marketing practices? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641439)

Exactly. Everybody does it. I don't see how this is any different than Microsoft and Oracle's EULAs which say you can't publish benchmarks without their permission.

Re:Alien marketing practices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641639)

Exactly. Everybody does it.

Let me guess. You're 16.

Time for a namechange, then! (3, Funny)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641303)

I, for one, suggest "AlienatingWare".

Re:Time for a namechange, then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641573)

Thanks for the morning chuckle!

Question (1)

Archeopteryx (4648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641309)

When you have a review site, do you get to KEEP the hardware?

Re:Question (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641437)

>When you have a review site, do you get to KEEP the hardware?
Depends on the supplier, some do, some don't. Also on the value of the item. It's not uncommon too to offer special 'journalist price' on items. Software either comes on review copies (rare), in boxes marked with 'not for resale' or just standard off the shelf copies.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641501)

It depends on what is being reviewed. For most system makers, no.

There are a number of systems built by the maker for review purposes..they are configured and then shipped out for review. The reviewer has a number of days to do their work and then the system is shipped back. The system maker will clean up, check and reconfigure the system then send it out to the next reviewer.

No news here (2, Interesting)

suprcvic (684521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641325)

I thought everybody just kind of knew that hardware companies weren't going to supply hardware to bad reviewers? That would just be counter-intuitive on the part of the manufacturer. That's pretty much why I don't put too much stock in reviews and try and dig as much info as I can out of user reviews.

Re:No news here (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641435)

Amen. I can't tell you how many times I have read a glowing review only to go into Amazon user reviews and find out that the product has some glaringly obvious flaw that makes it unsuitable for it's intended purpose. Even though I haven't always agreed with Consumer Reports' assessments, at least the Consumer's Union purchases the items themselves.

Re:No news here (0)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641619)

I started dismissing Consumer Reports when I read that they rated eMachines the best computers. Not best value, or some other quantifier. Hands down best.

Re:No news here (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641743)

If they're anything like 'Which' in the UK, I know what you mean. They have the right idea - buying the stuff themselves but usually come up with bizarre recommendations on stuff I know about making me seriously doubt their reviews on stuff I'm clueless about. When it came to computers or most techy toys/hiFi etc. I could usually find half a dozen or more errors in each review, table of features etc. making the conclusions laughable.

Re:No news here (3, Informative)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641791)

I started dismissing Consumer Reports when I read that they rated eMachines the best computers. Not best value, or some other quantifier. Hands down best.

I've been a subscriber for four years. I don't recall ever seeing them rate eMachines highly. In the most recent issue, they rate a Compaq Presario highly for Budget Models (512MB RAM, 160GB Hard Drive). For workhorse models (1GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive), they rate a Gateway highly. But, for both Compaq and Gateway, they point out that support and reliability are below par. You should note that being rated HIGHLY, does not necessarily mean CR recommends a particular item.

In general, CR recommends Apple. In their benchmarking system, Apple doesn't usually rate highly. There are almost always Windows machines that perform better than a particular Apple product (at least in CR's testing). But, when it comes to reliability, support and the general lack of Virus issues, CR prefers Apple.

Re:No news here (3, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641499)

Not true. I've given very poor reviews of kit and the manufacturer still supplies me with new product to evaluate. I've never had the 'Alienware' problem myself. The only thing like this is if the review is for a magazine/website that the PR company or supplier may think doesn't have enough clout in which case you'll get the 'sure, it's in the post' line and no amount of chasing will make anything actually turn up.
One thing I would add though and this is purely anecdotal, I work within the UK market and there, it is an often repeated statement that US magazines can have very different standards for reviews and often print what the manufacturers give them to print rather than writing the copy themselves. No idea if it's true or not.

Re:No news here (1)

suprcvic (684521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641579)

What you say about US magazines rings a bit true to me in that I've seen some reviews that almost seem like advertisements for the product rather than a comprehensive, unbiased look at the pros and cons of it. Haven't seen a terrible lot of them, but I have seen them.

Re:No news here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642061)

A few years ago I wrote an article that covered press releases from the point of view of a news service. I could try to rewite the article I did a few years ago, but instead I'll just post a link [circusnews.com] .

What I will say is that knowing what Alienware did here I would never take review hardware from them, at least not until they change their tune. What they did is like shooting themselves in the knee cap. After reading this, few ethical journalists will have much to do with them. I really do hope the /. editors take the lead by refusing to run any AW reviews.

How is this any different from what (1, Offtopic)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641345)

Microsoft is doing with the Vista EULA [gripe2ed.com] and has done in the past?

...Just by way of example, what about a security researcher who a year or so from now wants to compare the buffer overflow vulnerabilities of the original version of Vista with the inevitable SP1? Under Microsoft's rules, the researcher could not make public the results of the older version of the software. And if you think it highly unlikely Microsoft would actually object to the benchmarks in such circumstances, think again. In 2001 Microsoft came down on an independent lab that was about to go public with performance benchmarks comparing Windows NT and Windows 2000 (). Since neither the NT or Win 2000 EULAs had censorship clauses at the time, Redmond even went to the extreme of invoking the clause in SQL Server, since it was used in the lab's tests.

Re:How is this any different from what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641461)

FUD.

  Please read the EULA -it doesn't say you can't talk about stuff. Microsoft says that if you publish a benchmark *and* you have a competing product, they have the right to publish benchmarks of your product in similar conditions.

I know this is Slashdot but enough of the mindless anti-MS FUD.

prodigy of slashdot (0, Flamebait)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641351)

I've read through the whole article...
Hear ye!

Gasp! (4, Funny)

gspeare (470147) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641359)

I've read through the whole article

Who are you and what have you done with the real editors?!?!?!??

Don't panic. (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641907)

"Who are you and what have you done with the real editors?!?!?!??"

Although the Slashdot editor only added two sentences of his own, he managed to commit two errors (one of punctuation and one of grammar) within that brief space. You may rest assured that the same elite editing talent as always is running the site.

Re:Gasp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642077)

Aww, come on. Given the volume of recent glaring editorial miscues (linking to wrong articles, gross headline misspelling, and summaries that specifically contradict the info in the articles) I think one playfule jab is more than fair.

Ahem.. (5, Funny)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641391)

Alienware is AWESOME! Great! Superb! This article is FUD.

/checks mail

They're still Awesome!! HELLOooO!!! Your hardware rules!

/checks mail again

Re:Ahem.. (1)

DynamoJoe (879038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642109)

Sorry, but you have to be Republican [fundrace.org] to get stuff from 'em.

Build your own! (1)

pauljuno (998497) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641393)

Just one more good reason to build your own system. It's not that difficult and you'll get your system a lot faster than Alienware can deliver. I tried to buy an Alienware early this summer after having a real bad experience with ordering a Dell XPS 700 .... and they promised shipping in two weeks and then they change the time to two months. Yuck, and the worst thing about Alienware is they charge you upfront and just sit on the cash. I'll never buy again!

Re:Build your own! (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641569)

I tried to buy an Alienware early this summer after having a real bad experience with ordering a Dell XPS 700

Uh, you know that Dell now OWNS [dell.com] Alienware. That might explain why you had bad experiences with both products.

Re:Build your own! (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641697)

hence "tried"

Re:Build your own! (2, Insightful)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642225)

Just one more good reason to build your own system.

I would always advocate building your own vs. buying, however, there's becoming a finer line between pricing, power, service, and hassle. I recently (like 6-months ago, so I guess that's like a different era in computers terms) went through the whole, "I'm going to get a new computer" process. I ended up with a Dell XPS 600. I'm quite happy with it so far. Some small annoyances, I shouldn't have gotten the WinXP Media Center, so much crap software is installed on it, and for some strange reason, at random times, my mouse wouldn't activate on boot-up until I re-plugged it in.

The thing is, I can build my own and I've done it enough in the past. However, build your own only works best if you have 'known good' parts you can swap out, should something drastically bad go wrong. Like my last effort to upgrade my old box to the point of building my own. New MoBo, CPU, RAM, etc. Well, the MoBo I ordered was bad, it fried the whole system, and I had to replace all the parts. I can tell you, it was not a pleasure to contact each manufacturer and/or online store to get the warranty invoked for replacement parts. It was taking over a month, and so I just bought a nice laptop instead.

This time around, I could have built a 'faster' computer for the same price as some XPS systems, but then I'd have to still buy a Monitor and such. However, the speed I would get out of the new system wasn't significantly better than the XPS system I built. Nor did it have the 3-year warranty(even if Customer Service is a PITA). However, with my DELL laptop, I can tell you, when parts broke, like a Hard Drive, or RAM, one (long) phone call and I'd get a new replacement part in the mail practically the next day, with FedEx, where I could swap parts, and mail (at no cost) the bad part back. I also didn't have to setup the RAID drives or purchase a WinXP license, install all the software (though it would be better since I can skip all the Dell crap they add), etc. etc. Basically, it was easier and just as expensive, after doing to pricewatch.com and picking all my parts, paying for shipping, buying a monitor, putting everything together, crossing my fingers everything works, and hopping for the best, to just buy a Dell and go from there. Of course, now, I can just upgrade at this point. Which was my whole plan.

Dells prices have gotten to the point that, it's actually not such a bad idea, if you have to get an entire new system, that you might as well get it all at once with a warranty for all your parts from the same place, to save some hassle.

Cheers,
Fozzy

This is why you need independent reviewers.... (5, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641399)

Consumer Reports magazine has the right idea... If you're going to review and test products, you need to obtain them the exact same way, and through the same channels, that end-users do. Even if a manufacturer can seemingly be trusted not to withhold new products from reviewers to retaliate for a bad review, it doesn't mean they're not "cherry picking" the products they're sending them!

Especially in cases where there are high numbers of D.O.A. or malfunctioning units, reviewers simply don't catch this problem if they're only receiving pre-tested, pre-selected samples for free evaluation.

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641525)

It doesn't happen now AFAIK but a few years ago graphics card manufacturers got caught out with drivers optomised for the current crop of benchmark programs - their real world performance was worse than benchmarks implied.

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641665)

The problem is that technophiles want to know what is coming AHEAD of that curve. I don't know how many times I've read about pre-release samples, manufacturing final samples with pre-release firmware, etc. I've read reviews about this on video cards, motherboards, even wireless routers.

As long as people want to know these things early on, if one was running a review site, you have to get the stuff early, and that means dealing with the crap like Alien seems to be trying to pull. Very few sites seem to wait for the actual product releases (which is one of the reasons I used to go to practicallynetworked or whatever when I was buying my router, and why I like sites like Amazon since I read what actual users moan about (whether good or bad)).

Myself, I got sick of reading about X pre-release that is a gagillion times better than competitor's Z's product. I just wait a bit and see what actual user reviews are, or sometimes comprehensive benchmarks. I also save a load of cash too, given prices always come down after the initial purchasing spree. Leaves me having more toys overall too.

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641857)

I think using pre-release samples is fair game as long as you mention early on it's a pre-release, mark the review a preview and do not under any cicumstances give it a final mark out of ten or whatever. Only production kit should get a normal review.

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641737)

On the other hand, if all vendors would cherry pick the products they sent in for review, atleast they'd all be on level playing ground.
The problem with buying review copies in stores is that you'll occasionally pick up a less-than-average product, which will result in a review worse than what the average buyer would get.
With cherry picking, atleast you know you're comparing the same top quality products that vendors can produce.
Ideally you'd be able to review a larger number of store-bought samples, from different production runs if applicable, but that'd be too expensive for most things electronical.

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641883)

But then you'd get to test out the other important aspect of a customer's experience - that of the customer service. It's quite important to the 99% of the populace that don't know a phillips head screwdriver from a flat-head or nutdriver, so they could open the case...

Re:This is why you need independent reviewers.... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641983)

That would not be a review of the product but a review of the store and/or vendor itself.

Sure, it's important that the store & vendor don't screw you over if you happened to buy a bad version of their otherwise brilliant product, but it's not the same thing.

Translation back to native 1st grade language (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641403)

Let me translate this back into the native 1st grade language in which this argument was originally expressed before it was dressed up in self-righteous ethical terms.

Hexus.Net: Gimme free shit!

AlienWare: No, you're mean.

HN: Wah! I want free shit! You're a poopy-head.

AW: I don't gotta give you nothin' if you're not extra-special nice to me.

HN: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Waaaaah!

AW: I'm taking my ball and going home.

HN: I'll get you for this. I'm telling!

Re:Translation back to native 1st grade language (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641673)

Disagree. I've worked for bad editors (try and say something nice, anything, we're carrying some ads for them next month) and good ones (say it like it is and if advertising dept call, hang up. Editorial never talk to advertising, it's unethical).
That said, I'm not sure I'd have carried this as a story if I were in the same boat, I'd just write them off as a supplier of review product and more fool them.
The fact they've been slashdotted into 'web server down for maintenance' I suspect they're starting to regret it a bit now.

news flash: alienware overpriced (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641431)

in other news:
water is wet
the sky is blue
size matters

You posted this to Slashdot? (4, Funny)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641433)


Fine. No hardware for you either.

Standard Marketing Practice, Nothing New Here (5, Informative)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641453)

I wrote for a couple of computer industry trade rags back in the early 90s and the editorial policy was that we never gave bad reviews. If a product sucked, the review was never published. We gave feedback back to the manufacturer but nothing got printed.

The reasoning was simple. If the manufacturer really wanted a review printed, they would fix their product (and some of them REALLY wanted good reviews and actually did make improvements). And if the magazine wanted to continue to get advertising dollars, they didn't print bad reviews. It was the unspoken quid pro quo.

Re:Standard Marketing Practice, Nothing New Here (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641633)

I read an article a while back by a guy who was a motoring reviewer in the 60s and 70s. He talked about the time he had a new car on loan for review shortly before it was due to be sold to the public, and the brake pedal came off on the approach to a sharp bend at 140mph...

Apparently he didn't mention it in the review because the manufacturer told them they'd fix the bug before they shipped. Obviously they had a lot of faith in those days.

Re:Standard Marketing Practice, Nothing New Here (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642249)

The parent comments sound like the companies are using the reviewers for quality control. Maybe the reviewers should charge a consulting fee. I think an internal QC department may be in order.

Re:Standard Marketing Practice, Nothing New Here (1)

cyclocommuter (762131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641659)

It's getting difficult to sort out real reviews from those pandering to manufacturers. Even internet forums are populated with reviews from supposedly regular consumers but which, in a quite a number of instances, turn out to be astroturfers who set out to generate a buzz.

These astroturfers are often employees of the manufacturer or fanboys who get hardware/gadget in return for a favorable review.

Re:Standard Marketing Practice, Nothing New Here (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641937)

I'd be ok with that. At least your reviews were honest. When I read reviews I'm looking for real information or feedback. Perhaps I'm not as cynical as I should be, but I'm not looking for marketing drivel. If I want that I'll go to the manufacturers site.

However I'd think the mark of a real (good?) review site/magazine/etc would be including the negative reviews to say 'Hey this is bad and we're calling them on it'. I've never been to hexus.net before, but I'll definitely begin to use them for reviews after this. Assuming that this wasn't all some advertisting ploy by them (ahhhh.. there's my cynicism).

Alienware is based in South Florida (1)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641463)

What would you expect??

Re:Alienware is based in South Florida (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641535)

> What would you expect??
Hanging chad?

missing S in headline. (0)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641487)

Should be "Alienware admits...."

Re:missing S in headline. (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641803)

One of the best things about language is that it changes over time.

Re:missing S in headline. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641839)

Good point.

Of course, this type of error is very common on Slashdot. There seems to be a problem matching nouns to verbs amongst the people who post or the editors...

Re:missing S in headline. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641917)

Unless you're using British English, in which case corporations are considered plural. They're only singular in American English.

Re:missing S in headline. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642007)

It makes no sense at all. One business is typically one business.

Re:missing S in headline. (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641923)

Not in Britain. Companies are always plural.

Re:missing S in headline. (2, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641973)

Companies are plural, but company is singular. No matter what country you are in, one business is one business.

ask the Brits. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642069)

"Not in Britain. Companies are always plural."

I wonder what the British have to say about this. What is the most famous British corporation of all? It is probably the BBC. On the BBC's own site [bbc.co.uk] , hosted in the United Kingdom, you find this line "BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites." See the treatment as singular. There are 340 times as many references (34 million to 100 thousand) for "The BBC is" are there are for "The BBC are", which makes the latter grammatically incorrect usage look more and more like a mere mistake.

You should have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641549)

linked some content off the Alienware site itself so we could /. their server.

Re:You should have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16641631)

Already done apparently - I can't bring up the page, or even Hexus.net. At one point I got a white background with "Site down for maintenance" in the left corner.

Consumers Reports (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641587)

This is why you have Consumers Reports: they buy their products at the store and they don't take advertising.

I acknowledge that it would be almost impossible for a web site to not take advertising, but buying product at the store is very important. For example, if you request an LCD for a review, don't you think they are going to look through a bunch of them and make sure you get the one with no dead pixels and no other problems?

Servers too! (1)

Minupla (62455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641627)

Apparently Alienware took back the servers that ran the website too :)

This News, in Slashdot ... baaad for alienware bad (3, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641645)

I would rather have my pictures of getting my ass whipped by a horde of crazy sado-masochist foot fetishist south african mongolian descent hentai zulu tribe circulate around the internet instead of this news in slashdot, if i were alienware.

Re:This News, in Slashdot ... baaad for alienware (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642117)

I don't really think the typical Slashdot reader is a potential Alienware customer.

Quite honestly, I don't know who buys their machines anyway. You'd have to have a lot of money to spend, have no intelligence to shop around, have no skills to build your own machine, want to have a very powerful machine yet value looks over performance. These just don't add up to any type of person I can imagine, except perhaps spoiled rich teenage kids.

Alien?! Where??? (1)

Nux'd (1002189) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641655)

Seems to me that threatening a reviews site is a bad move. Rather than give into the threat, they may as well right an account of it. The scandal will draw peoples attention to the review site. Review site wins, Alienware grumbles.

Rather than trying to force good reviews, a more diplomatic approach would have been to hint or bribe. Maybe even trick and swindle.

Intimidation is bad! >:(

Re: Alien?! Where??? (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641953)

> Seems to me that threatening a reviews site is a bad move. Rather than give into the threat, they may as well right an account of it. The scandal will draw peoples attention to the review site. Review site wins, Alienware grumbles.

That's what I would do. Start the page with the regular sort of title and photo of the product, then just say that you can't review the product because the vendor didn't approve of your honesty in the last review.

And here the come...slashdotting outta the turn! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641669)

Ohmygod! They killed Hexus!

YOU BASTARDS!

Anyone got the meat of the article?

Re:And here the come...slashdotting outta the turn (1)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641845)

That's no Slashdot effect! Alienware just took back their server hardware.

Re:And here the come...slashdotting outta the turn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642089)

It works for me here, but if anyone else is having trouble reading it, here's the full text (rather long)

Nose well out of joint

One of the things that honest reviewers hate the most, writes Bob Crabtree, is the email - or phone call - that thanks them for a "great" review. An assessment that a review is fair or accurate makes no one squirm. But calling it "great" makes us worry that we missed some fundamental flaw the manufacturer expected us to spot. Either that or they think we went easy on them - nudge, nudge - because they advertise with us.

Perversely, we have less trouble handling accusations of having written a bad review or one that was unfair or had serious errors. We do fully investigate such accusations, though, and absolutely do put things right on the rare occassions where we've got them wrong initially. We don't claim to be perfect, though that's what we'd say we aspire to being.

We're also cool about being told that what we've published proves that we're out and out fan-boys of the opposition's products. We know such charges are false and can usually call up a bunch of previous articles in which we gave a good kicking to who ever it is we're supposed to be in love with.

As a for-instance, our write-ups of the amazing performance of Intel's new-generation processors have led us to be accused of being Intel fan-boys. This is despite the fact that, up until the time these new CPUs came available for testing, we were regularly accused of being AMD fan-boys because we pointed out the truth about AMD's CPUs out-performing Intel's in most metrics.

All we do is tell it like it is - more accurately, as we see it - and we are comfortable living with criticism that results from our doing so and equally comfortable putting right any errors of fact.

But we recently had a reaction to a review that was new to us - at least in the form that it took.

What happened is that a company that was unable to find genuine fault, told us that we won't be receiving any more product for testing unless future reviews can be guaranteed to be more favourable than the last one.

We've received plenty of such threats but can't remember anyone being stupid enough before to make it over a succession of emails. Usually, these things are implied - and only in conversation, whether face-to-face or on the phone.

We terminate such discussions very speedily but not before explaining the facts of life - as they apply to HEXUS.

The person who makes the threat gets a king-size flea inserted in his ear with all due force and is made to understand that you can't buy a good HEXUS review - the product itself has to earn it.

He's also told that if that means we don't get any further product to review, then we'd regard that as the maker's loss, rather than our own.

So what is our response to this astonishing threat? Well, you're reading it now. We're naming names and will let you draw your own conclusions.

So, let's start with the company concerned. To find out which it is, turn to page two...

Naming names

The name of the company's that's put our collective nose right out of joint is Alienware. Yes, the high-end consumer PC builder that was taken over by Dell in March, as explained in a press release headed ALIENWARE AND DELL: TAKING HIGH-PERFORMANCE PCS TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

And the less said about that pretentious load of twaddle, the better.

The review that drew the threat was Tarinder Sandhu's fair, honest and accurate assessment of the company's upmarket Area-51 7500 system.

Okay, you might think that we're bound to reckon that our own review was all those things but, have you actually read the piece?

I did. I crawled all over it again and again, trying to see if the review was unfair, unreasonable or inaccurate.

I found nothing there for Alienware to complain about apart from the fact that we've pointed out the bleeding obvious.

And what's obvious is that this is a PC that, despite its gaudy Halloween outer layer, performs no better than machines sold at about two-thirds of the price.

Yes, it does perform very well - as the review makes clear - but the system case, the spec of some elements within it and the type of warranty can all be made to look thoroughly second-rate by competing machines that are sold for quite a lot less.

It's still early days for Core 2 Duo systems, so we've not yet reviewed a lot of them. Of the two others we've had the opportunity to look at, the MESH Elite Extreme SLI System - Core 2 Extreme X6800, offers significantly better value than the Alienware, as Tarinder's review pointed out with comparative facts and figures.

If you are prepared to spend around £3,000, then as Tarinder's Alienware review also made clear, the other system we've looked at, theVadim Fusion Cetus Overclocked Core 2 Duo System, offers considerably better performance.

Tarinder actually couched all these truisms in more diplomatic terms than I've done but, nonetheless, said them all. And, if you read the review, then look around at Alienware's competitors, you won't be able to disagree with Tarinder's take.

Seemingly, even Alienware doesn't disagree with Tarinder's take. It's not upset that we got anything wrong, merely hacked off - and, seemingly, surprised - that we're telling the truth about the product's over-inflated price and run-of-the-mill quality and specs.

One further point to note (and, really, this is only me rubbing salt in the wound) - as well as crawling all over Tarinder's Alienware review, I also visited the configurators on Alienware's site and on MESH's, to double-check what options were available and the prices.

I found no issues but did notice that the price of the Alienware system was less than Tarinder had quoted. It was £2,965.70, including VAT (but excluding delivery), whereas, two months ago, the ex-delivery price Tarinder mentioned (and which was provided to him by Alienware) was £3,112. So today's price is just over £146 less than Tarinder quoted.

The delivery price back in August was £55.67 including VAT but Alienware's site makes it hard for you to know how much you'll be charged for delivery, so I can't tell you how much that costs today.

On MESH's site, I aimed for a configuration that was as close to the Alienware as possible - so left out the monitor and speakers Tarinder had included in the price he quoted of £2,499.

My doing that produced a price of £2,334.50 - £164.50 less than in the review - and that price includes delivery.

So, in fact, the differential today between the Alienware and MESH systems is greater now than Tarinder said in his review back in August. It's now £631.20 or, if you take account of delivery (and assuming Alienware's delivery charge is unchanged), over £686.

Internally, we've debated why Alienware responded as it did. The obvious possibility was that, somehow, Dell was forcing its hand. But Dell, we thought, was wise enough to know that our reviews are totally straight and will have understood that no one can do anything to change that. So we had to look for more likely answers.

The first we came up with was that Alienware is ultra sensitive to anything deemed as adverse publicity. Our reasoning here was that, with Dell looking over its shoulder (and itself having had some poor financial results of late), Alienware felt it needed to be perceived as highly successful - and good reviews give that impression.

The next - and it's certainly not incompatible with the first - is that the people we were dealing with (and may be their bosses) were just unbelievably stupid and arrogant.

However, our third possibility - although, again, not mutually exclusive - is the one you could probably mortgage your house on.

The sad and very sick truth is that Alienware had been assuming we'd be giving the system a glowing review - irrespective of its quality, features and price.

How can we be so sure? Well, the company told us so. And it's not simply that it said it expected this of us, it told us it expects it of every publication around the world to which it sends review product!

Yes, really, it did say that. In writing.

And that means, in effect, it's saying that every positive review of an Alienware product that the company supplied could be corrupt and totally untrustworthy - and, by inference, so might the site or magazine that published it.

So, don't go suing us if your publication has being slated by Alienware, set your lawyers on the company itself.

Naturally, we also debated how we should react to this attempt to force us to write corrupt (I nearly wrongly said, "soft") reviews in future and the way in which Alienware had acted hurt that we'd not done so with the Area-51 7500 system.

The only right and proper reaction, we thought, was a tell-it-like-it-is opinion piece. So then we had to pick a writer.

Stupidly, I'd been among the loudest to complain. My name also came to the fore accompanied by arguments that since I'd been a professional journo for almost as long as some of our people have been alive, I supplied the necessary gravitas.

The clincher, though, was that I either wrote it or had to endure my turn in The Barrel at the next HEXUS editorial "meeting" (so much for gravitas!). So bang went my weekend.

What, initially provoked my anger was an email sent on October 25 to Tarinder Sandhu, our reviews editor, by Mat Bettinson, marketing manager of Alienware Ltd.

But how I felt then was nothing in comparison to how I felt after reading Bettison's email of October 26 to Paul Dutton, our director - communications & strategy.

You can read Bettison's corrupt and potentially corrupting words on page three...

Holier than thou?

All emails referred to in this article are included, in date order, on page four.

On October 25, Mat Bettinson, marketing manager of Alienware Ltd, emailed his response to our request for an Alienware G80-based system for review.

In that email, Bettison wrote the following,

I'm afraid, after the last review, our ability to send you any hardware for review is pretty much gone. When I have one of the executives in the US threatening my job on the telephone, my hands become somewhat tied in the future.

Anyway since...

"there are better and cheaper alternatives to the Alienware Area-51 7500" ... surely those would make a much better choice for a launch-day G80 review?

Certainly we'd have to have rocks in our head to come back for a second helping with the same SKU.

Paul Dutton was deeply shocked by this response (and I'd have been even more shocked if he hadn't been). He (like all of us) interpreted it to mean that Alienware was demanding that we lie about Alienware's products in future reviews and that the company was surprised that we hadn't lied in our review of the Area-51 7500 system.

So, Paul replied the same day to Bettison in a very strongly worded email that contained the lines below,

you effectively stated - and the record shows in no uncertain terms - that because HEXUS had published the honest, unfavourable truth about one Alienware product, that Alienware would not be sending HEXUS any products for future technical editorial evaluations

  the only inference which can be made from this is that Alienware will only submit products to publications which will write nice things about Alienware.

Bettison responded the next day, saying,

I'm a little baffled by your idealism on this front:

" the only inference which can be made from this is that Alienware will only submit products to publications which will write nice things about Alienware."

That's was and remains Alienware's global marketing strategy from the beginning. We're hardly alone. [My emboldening - Bob Crabtree]

Now, I don't know if Bettison is talking through his arse or not. Perhaps he's just a mad Walter Mitty type.

I do know, however, that I have never seen before any form of written communication in which someone just comes out and says that his or her company won't send product for testing unless it's guaranteed a good review.

I also know that if what he's saying about Alienware is true, then that must mean that a large measure of the success that Alienware has enjoyed is built on false, unreliable and corrupt foundations.

People will have been buying Alienware's over-priced, fools-gold systems as a result of corrupt reviews written by corrupt journalists.

In addition, and consequently, Alienware's new owner Dell, was, in effect, duped into buying the company - irrespective of what the undisclosed terms of the purchase were.

I'm no expert on the legal niceties that prevail in the United States of America, but I'd like to think that what Bettison says Alienware has done - and is doing - is illegal.

I'd also like to think that the appropriate authorities will now look into Bettison's allegations and, if they turn out to be true, that the full weight of the law will fall upon the people responsible for Alienware's global marketing strategy - before and after the take-over.

Any web sites, print publications and journalists responsible for corrupt reviews should also be held to account.

Bettison alleges that other companies are just as corrupt as he says Alienware is.

"We're hardly alone", is what he said. My inference it that he means that a lot of other companies provide product for testing only if they're guaranteed good reviews.

I have no way of knowing whether this is Walter Mitty talk or straight talk. I certainly don't presume that what he says is true. But if what he's saying about Alienware turns out to be accurate, then, in my view, the authorities should also then investigate that further allegation about other companies and take appropriate action against all parties if it, too, is true.

For the record, we'd only reviewed two Alienware systems before the Area-51 7500. Both were laptops and each review was reasonably positive and dished out awards. But each also pointed out in no uncertain terms that the kit is expensive.

Back in December of last year, we looked at the Alienware Area-51 m5700 laptop. Our review - written by Tarinder Sandhu - concluded,

The bottom line is that you can buy a similar DTR [desktop replacement - Bob Crabtree] laptop from other vendors for less money. Alienware, whilst producing a solid product, hasn't done enough to wow us at the £1,800 price attached to the sample model, and apart from a few signature touches, [it] is too generic to standout from the crowd. Take away the laptop's badges and it could well be a Fujitsu-Siemens; both use the same chassis. Overall, then, good but not great.

Before that, the only Alienware review we'd carried was Rys Sommefeldt's take, back in April 2004, on the Area51-m Extreme laptop. Among the things Rys said in his conclusion were,

Personally I love it. I'm a geek, I appreciate a £650 server CPU in my laptop. I appreciate being able to swap the GPU. I like having a 4x DVD+RW on the move with 1GB of memory and a 60GB HDD to feed it. I like 108Mbit WiFi without even having the means to use it.

My personal feelings aside, it's an obvious bit of niche hardware. Is it the fastest gaming laptop on the planet? Yes. Does it cost an absolute fortune? Yes. Do people who'd actually buy one care? Do they hell.

It's both fantastic and pointless at the same time.

You'll either love it or laugh, it's as simple as that.

So, let me end this idealistic article (as Bettison would doubtless think of it - among other things) by making some statements of fact and intent.

First, it has to be understood that you can't buy a good HEXUS review - the product itself must earn it.

According to Bettison, the equivalent does not apply to all web sites or magazines - and may be he's right and may be he's wrong. But it's true of HEXUS, as our regular site visitors already know.

And all makers and suppliers - not just Alienware - absolutely do need to believe it, too. If they fail to understand and, like Alienware, attempt to force us to write corrupt reviews, they, too, will be outed - even if these attempts are more subtle than Bettison's and don't come in emails but, instead, on the phone or face-to-face.

Read the emails for yourself - dive over to page four...

The email chain

From: Tarinder
Sent: 24 October 2006 13:37
To: 'Mat Bettinson'; 'Jackie Seear'
Cc: 'David Ross'; 'Paul Dutton'
Subject: Alienware G80-based system for review at HEXUS.net

Hi all,

As you know, G80 is pretty much upon us.

Were very keen to showcase the power of the card(s) with a turnkey system from Alienware.

Wed love to have a SKU which we can review and activate on launch day, to coincide with NVIDIAs release.

I anticipate that a G80-based Alienware machine will have massive review impact.

Can you help?

Kindest regards,

Tarinder Sandhu
Reviews editor
HEXUS.net

From: Mat Bettinson
Sent: 25 October 2006 10:08
To: Tarinder
Cc: 'Jackie Seear'; 'David Ross [HEXUS.net]'; 'Paul Dutton'
Subject: Re: Alienware G80-based system for review at HEXUS.net

Hello Tarinder,

I'm afraid, after the last review, our ability to send you any hardware for review is pretty much gone. When I have one of the executives in the US threatening my job on the telephone, my hands become somewhat tied in the future.

Anyway since...

"there are better and cheaper alternatives to the Alienware Area-51 7500" ... surely those would make a much better choice for a launch-day G80 review?

Certainly we'd have to have rocks in our head to come back for a second helping with the same SKU.

Mat Bettinson
Marketing Manager
Alienware Limited

From: PD [HEXUS.net]
Sent: 25 October 2006 19:26
To: 'Mat Bettinson'
Cc: 'Tarinder'; 'Jackie Seear'; 'David Ross'
Subject: Re: Alienware G80-based system for review at HEXUS.net

Matt,

the email inviting Alienware to submit a G80 based system was sent without my authority.

if i had known that there was any intention whatsoever to invite Alienware to submit any product to HEXUS, i would have prevented that happening.

the reason for this is simple: -

you thought it judicious to make a communication over MSN Messenger to my co-director David Ross, in which you effectively stated - and the record shows in no uncertain terms - that because HEXUS had published the honest, unfavourable truth about one Alienware product, that Alienware would not be sending HEXUS any products for future technical editorial evaluations

  the only inference which can be made from this is that Alienware will only submit products to publications which will write nice things about Alienware.

a position further undeniably confirmed by your puerile email, which im responding to.

as you presumably know, following your initial discussion with David, i did telephone your mobile with a view to endeavouring to discuss the precarious position you have placed your employers in, but you chose not to answer and nor did i receive a call in return.

im of the view that it would be manifest to any right thinking person that you have behaved like a moron, and i would be surprised if at least someone senior in the company you work for wasnt a right thinking person, and, further, thought - that in the position in which you seem to have managed to manoeuvre yourself into - you are little more than a foolish liability.

some of the primary raisons dêtre of HEXUS are to truthfully inform, expertly help and consistently entertain our readership

presently i feel that HEXUS would be remiss in not publishing all correspondence in this matter; this, exclusively, for the purpose of warning our readership that anything they read about Alienware following HEXUS authoritative, honest, expert and insightful article on the Alienware Area-51 7500 should be taken in the context exposed by your communications.

you should not contact anyone at HEXUS again. no reply is necessary, or wanted.

if, with a view to asking HEXUS to reconsider its position, a senior person within your employers organisation wishes to communicate with HEXUS, then feel free to pass this correspondence to them, and write only directly to me, ideally with their direct contact telephone number.

Paul Dutton
director - communications & strategy
HEXUS limited

From: Mat Bettinson
Sent: 26 October 2006 10:35
To: PD
Cc: 'Tarinder'; 'Jackie Seear'; 'David Ross [HEXUS.net]'
Subject: Re: Alienware G80-based system for review at HEXUS.net

Hello PD,

> you should not contact anyone at HEXUS again. no reply is necessary, or wanted.

Sorry PD, that's a pretty unwarranted and offensive email to be frank and it's patently unfair just to tell me I can't respond.

Firstly, optimising product placements to the press is a specific role of anyone in a marketing function and not someone behaving like a moron. From experience I've known that you and I see eye to eye on a number of industry issues but I'm a little baffled by your idealism on this front:

" the only inference which can be made from this is that Alienware will only submit products to publications which will write nice things about Alienware."

That's was and remains Alienware's global marketing strategy from the beginning. We're hardly alone. [My emboldening - Bob Crabtree]

Your main point appears to be that it was my idea that Alienware never sends Hexus another product and you're aggrieved that I would mention that to David Ross.

That's not entirely the case. David knows only too well the constraints under which I (and Jackie) work and we have a pretty full and frank discussion of those terms from time to time.

I'd be deeply surprised if he held your view on that point. At the time he was quite clear "well that's an editorial" thing. I said fair cop guv, it's just I know you and I want your view on how to proceed. I certainly made it clear I was under executive instruction.

I had to spend days drawing up a report post that review, justifying why I authorised that hardware to be sent to Hexus at all.

They were quite adamant they would never have done so. At an executive level. Post Stefan's departure I am the only person within the company that knows the value of Hexus in any terms. Furthermore it was my insistence that while the review was hardly ideal, given various Alienware failings, Hexus hadn't been entirely unfair. If there's a plot-line of idealism from your crusader-for-truth journalistic idealism through to a corporate spin machine, I would have put me rather closer to to the left. I think any dealings any of you have had with me previously would back that up.

> as you presumably know, following your initial discussion with David, i did telephone your mobile with a view to endeavouring to discuss the precarious position you have placed your employers in, but you chose not to answer and nor did i receive a call in return.

I wouldn't 'choose' not to answer your call. I'm baffled how I placed my employers in a precarious position. I don't get this stuff at ALL I'm afraid.

Anyway, I think this has turned into a little hysterical brinkmanship unnecessarily. I don't know you or Tarinder very well, and if you've taken such offense to reply in such a way to my previous 'purile' email, then I'd mark that one up to my error. I thought the sort of whimsical non-nonsence discussion I have had from time to time with David Ross was appropriate.

Eg, you could have just said 'piss off'.

Now, can we calm down a little?

So, you've read the emails and my holier-than-thou response to what Bettison says Alienware and others are up to. But what are your thoughts? Comment in this thread in the HEXUS.right2reply forum about Bettison's accusations and on bent reviews, bent reviewers, bent publishers and bent suppliers

Fiddling a review? (1)

killeena (794394) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641723)

That is pretty talented. Perhaps they should go to Georgia to outfiddle the devil.

Shocked.... file under not news category (5, Informative)

klubar (591384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641731)

Is anyone surprised by this?

Apple has been doing this for years.... sites or publications that don't give glowing reviews are not invited to press conferences, don't get the cool swag, are excluded from preview announcements, don't get access to excutives. It's one way that Apple manipulates (influences) the press... that's why sites that always give great reviews (see Wall St. Journal) always have easy access to the newest equipment and executives.

Review sites are rampant with fradulent reviews on both sides. Manufacturers are giving hardware in exchange for favorable reviews and meanwhile many of the review sites are just shills for hardware vendors. It's always been somewhat true that the advertising side of publications had some influence over the editorial side, it's just gotten much worse (and easier to cheat

Re:Shocked.... file under not news category (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641785)

Agree. Apple are extremely picky about who they'll give kit to for review. Their PR don't have the best reputation for being useful/responsive unless you're in their little book of favoured people - and it's a very small book.

Re:Shocked.... file under not news category (1)

Cruise_WD (410599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642163)

Everybody seems very accepting of this situation...two questions spring to my mind:

1) How should a consumer obtain a worthwhile review with no prior knowledge of a site's quality?

2) Is there any way of organising the review system to not enourgage this behaviour?
Consumer Review's policy sounds great, but expensive - how would you fund that sort of publication outside of advertising or selling real-world copies of the mag?

Alienware still in business? (1)

Albundy47 (1020235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641929)

These clowns are still in business? LOL! They will eventually go the way of such big hits as the PCJr, etc. eventually. Why anyone would pay them all outdoors and then wait for a prepaid system is absolutely beyond me. When its time for a new gaming rig, I simply buy a current model HP retail box off the shelf that suits my needs for processor speed, storage and has the appropriate upgrade options available. Then I immediately buy the RAM it lacks, an Nvidia video card and a current model soundblaster. I take this stuff home, spend about a 1/2 hour installing it, etc. and I am gtg for another few years. Simple, cost effective and decent value for the dollar. How can you go wrong? This costs little if anything more than building from scratch and I have had great experience doing my PC hardware this way for several generations of systems now. Alienware is teh suck and nobody should buy that crap. I once called them up when they were advertising Alienware recommends Windows XP Professional and I asked them, why? I wanted to know EXACTLY what the benefit is to a gamer in a home setting. I wanted to know exactly how a few extra utilities and support for domain names, etc. was going to be useful to a gamer in thier home. Of course, they couldn't answer me. So then I put it to them again, so where do you get off telling gamers they should buy this more expensive OS for home use? No reply. I hung up and resolved to never, ever blow a penny on anything bearing the Alienware name. Credit where it is due though, they did a fine job of alienating me permanently.

Hmmm, just had an idea (1)

Starfleet Command (936772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641981)

Maybe I will start a review site and ask Alienware for a system to "review" ...hey, yeah...THAT's the ticket...

My favorite line (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16641985)

From experience I've known that you and I see eye to eye on a number of industry issues but I'm a little baffled by your idealism on this front:

Baffled by a company writing an honest review instead of a fluff piece. And this is what industry expects from trade rags. Pathetic.

Kudos (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642005)

Kudos to Hexus.net for actually telling us about this. I will no longer hold Alienware in the same esteem that I used to. I wonder what other companies do this?

Re:Kudos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642285)

I wonder what other companies do this?

All

alienware = dell (1)

grindcorefan (959282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642037)

The almighty journalists at hexus.net seem to be missing out on the fact that alienware is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dell. As the article fails to elaborate on that fact, it becomes less interesting. What would be interesting indeed is whether Dell is behind this or not, because that might give us a clue about their marketing practices, as well.

The email chain hurts Hexus too (2, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642115)

Now I've finally managed to read the full article, the email chain is pretty embarassing. When words like 'moron' start getting bandied about then the author has overstepped the bounds of professionalism IMO.

Is Hexus is being run from their mum's spare room? (1)

igb (28052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16642199)

The `journalists' --- to stretch a point --- are being juvenile. Clearly, every company's strategy is to only get good reviews. Clearly, writing bad reviews makes people less willing to lend you hardware gratis. If you find that shocking, you are so naive as to not be safe on the streets without having to hold the back of the coat of the child in front, and you probably have your mittens on a piece of string through the arms. There's an ocean between writing reviews of weird niche hardware for some free-to-air ad-funded website and being Woodward and Bernstein, and making out that a rather witty piece of email from a vendor is akin to the Saturday NIght Massacre is just laughable.

ian

That's the "critic" biz, folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16642277)

Books, movies, music, restaurants, it's always the same game.

And why shouldn't it be?

The producer of the material has a right to cooperate, or not, with anyone they want. If Movie Critic X consistently gives bad reviews of films from Studio Y, do you expect the studio to continue to invite him to new screenings?

Most book reviews are done in print. If a critic doesn't cooperate with a publisher, the critic's periodical doesn't get a chance to bid on the rights to the excerpt of Stephen King's new book.

Music reviews. Are you kidding me? Did you see the great reviews, across the board, garnered by Christina Aguilera's latest album?

I see no reason why computer, hardware, and video game "reviewers" should be exempt from this game. The key, as it has always been, is to be above all fair. The critic must be, or appear, as ethical as possible. He must build a reputation for being honest. Once popular and trusted (by the readers/viewers), the producers have no choice but to deal with him. In this game, the little guy will always get squashed.
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