In the early hours of this morning I heard a programme on the World Service that really surprised and disappointed me. A journalist was interviewing a collection of smug shrieking women who wrote blogs specifically for money, the content of which appeared to be mainly endorsement of designer clothes, skiing holidays, and other luxury products.
I was very shocked by this. I am obviously naive and maybe even clueless, but I thought blogging was a way of expressing your thoughts and an outlet for your creativity, free from external influences. But no, for many people it is merely a way of earning a very comfortable income. To me, this is not blogging. This may be pedantic, but I believe a blog is a ‘weblog’ or online diary, not a series of endorsements and positive reviews, purely for advertisement and marketing purposes. The great thing about blogging is you can write about anything that interests you, and with a few key words can share your output with anyone who will care to read it. OK, it means now anyone can call themselves a journalist, but for anyone who has ever wanted to write anything, you can guarantee at least a couple of readers out there, even if they do not provide the feedback you may wish for.
So, in the interest of free speech, and just to be contrary, I have decided to write a negative review of a product…and the luxury brand that immediately springs to mind is Diane Von Furstenburg, or DVF, purveyor of the classicly chic but perhaps ever so slightly dull wrap dress, beloved of middle class women everywhere.
Recently I was wandering down Wimbledon Village High Street and noticed a funky looking boob tube jumpsuit in the DVF window, so decided to take a look inside for the first time. The first thing I noticed were there we no more jumpsuits on the rails, just a collection of shapeless, frumpy maxi dresses, overseen by a sulky young Italian girl. She obviously decided I was some sort of peasant when I asked her how much a rust coloured tent-like monstrosity cost. ‘£700’ she mumbled, ‘but of course it’s silk’. I think she read my expression of disgust as shock at the price. I was more shocked at the awfulness of the dress, and the way someone managed to make silk appear a dead ringer for nylon. And there wasn’t a single wraparound dress to be seen, let alone funky jumpsuits.
In the interests of balance I would give an example of where I experienced good customer service, and a quality product, but I have given feedback to this particular womenswear shop on their website. Although I don’t want to turn my blog into a paid for site, I don’t want to just moan about bad products and services too. Though I do think it is important to do this, in the hope that it may contribute to improvements in the long run.
About an hour after the piece on the wealthy women bloggers, a news item highlighted how a blogger in France had been successfully sued by a restaurant owner for a negative review which appeared prominently in Google searches, with the title ‘The Place to Avoid’. I am even more shocked and worried now. Is this going to set a precedent? Could this happen in the UK too? Could anyone anywhere take someone to court for not writing positive things about their business, whatever country either party is based in? Will DVF hunt me down, or is her fashion empire too well supported by an army of supportive bloggers, and a global following? I am still clueless, but interested to see what transpires.
PS I have had no threats of legal action (yet) resulting from the title of my previous post (June 2014).