Just another reason you CAN’T trust online reviews from anywhere else. On May 1, 2015, a Bodybuilding.com user posted a thread that contained a screenshot of an email that RSP Nutrition sent, blatantly instructing their reps to buy samples of their products on Bodybuilding.com and leave 10/10 reviews.
The email summary:
This was an email sent to “Team RSP”- it’s unclear exactly who makes up “Team RSP” is, but it definitely consists of at least their Sponsored Athletes:
“How do your sponsored athletes help expand your brand? ...but because they too are part of Team RSP.” (Source: Bodybuilding.com Supplement Company of the Month: RSP - April, 2014)
RSP blatantly asks for three of their products to be given a 10/10 rating and 10/10 flavor.
RSP threatens revoking team membership if this is not completed.
Reps are always asking for reviews - RSP just takes it a step further.
Biased reviews run rampant in this industry. Reps are constantly looking for new ways to lure users into giving them reviews, even offering incentives - maybe a free t-shirt, maybe a discount code, or a chance to win free products. The only thing different about this incident was how blatant the instructions were. They were specifically telling their team to leave them 10/10 reviews.
We underestimated the extent of Bodybuilding.com’s conflict of interest.
Bodybuilding.com did a great job of covering the scandal up. They deleted the original thread and all traces of it in the forums. There’s no mention on RSP’s brand page, no articles explaining what action they took, and no announcements about the issue anywhere on the site.
Update: I was able to find this thread where someone asks what happened to the original forum post. The response was that it was deleted because “personal information was posted” - although there really wasn’t any personal information contained in the email. The thread is now locked so nobody can challenge this “explanation”. Still no official response from BB.com or RSP Nutrition.
RSP is listed as the 8th most popular brand on BB.com. They won the 2014 “Breakout Brand of the Year” award on BB.com, and even Supplement Company of the Month in April 2014. RSP is obviously a huge moneymaker for BB.com and they don’t want to jeapordize their revenue. BB.com is clearly in the business of selling supplements, not providing high quality, unbiased feedback.
When something like this happens on SR, we make sure to let everyone know. We believe in full transparency, honesty and accountability. Check out our Hall of Shame to see some of the fakers we’ve called out.
We learned that the “Verified Buyer” checkmark can easily be gamed.
One thing that SR can never implement is the “Verified Buyer” checkmark since we don’t actually sell anything. But this can easily be manipulated as we have discovered from this incident. RSP was requiring their team to order the SAMPLE bottles using a gift certificate and then wait one day to place the review. These 100% fake reviews would still have the “Verified Buyer” checkmark next to them.
The issue goes deeper - even asking for “honest” feedback will totally skew the reviews.
Usually we see reps asking for “honest” reviews, which may seem fair at first glance, but when you really examine the details, it becomes clear that these types of reviews are almost as bad:
Asking for “honest” reviews is just a way to help make the reviews appear more “natural” (even though we see straight through it on SR).
Typically, reps ask users to leave reviews even after taking just one sample. On SR, we require every user to finish a full container before posting reviews, and we enforce this very strictly. On other sites (BB.com, gnc, amazon), reviews are often posted after just the first sip.
The rep will typically bribe their team with more free samples to those who leave reviews - this means the reviews are incentivized which by definition makes them biased. These are not allowed on SR.
If you are going through the trouble to post a review with the hopes of getting more free samples, do you think you would risk your effort by posting negative or honest reviews? Imagine if someone posted an “honest” review:
“I only took a sample pack of this product and was asked to leave a review here so i would get more free samples. I really didn’t feel much and probably can’t tell you anything about it until I’ve tried it a few more times. 5/10”
The rep would have to be crazy to send you more free samples!
These biased reviews are completely flooding sites like BB.com, GNC and Amazon. On SR, these reviews are NOT allowed, you can read more: We Don't Want Your Reviews: Why NOT to Send Your Fans to SR for Reviews.
You need to be critical of where you read your reviews.
Are you buying into the hype that these supplement companies are buying? Or are you staying critical and informed, sticking only with trusted sources for information?