I've written before about my ambivalence toward merchandise giveaways on Outside Time. I remain skeptical of "brand partnerships," but I'm open to them if I really like the product and if it seems like something a reader would actually want. So when a company called Runskin approached me back in August, I accepted because they seemed to fit the bill. They printed course maps from famous marathons on New Balance tanks (and other things), which I liked.
The agreement was simple. Owner Matt Hawkins agreed to provide a free tank for the giveaway winner, and in exchange, I received a complimentary NYC marathon tank to review it here on Outside Time.
Things went south from there.
By October, the winner had still not received her tank from Runskin. She continued to email Runskin to ask what was up, and finally received a response in late October from Matt Hawkins. He said that the tanks were on "back order," and that they will email "as soon as they are back in."
By December, she still hadn't heard anything from Matt Hawkins. Meanwhile, Runskin was hosting a 50% off "Cyber Monday sale." and the tank she ordered was listed as in stock.
Emails to Matt Hawkins requesting information were either ignored, or, if he did reply, contained plenty of sarcasm, but absolutely no apology.
Other customers posted on Runskin's facebook wall that they too, had ordered and not received their items. Those comments have since disappeared.
It's now February and the entire site is down. It seems like the entire thing was at best, a badly-mismanaged PR mess, and at worst, a marketing scam.
How's that for my first giveaway?
As I said to the winner, I really felt like dipping my big toe into doing giveaways like this would be a net positive for everyone. I owe you guys an apology. I'm sorry I reviewed this product and that I encouraged others to "check them out." Even if their website was functioning and you could check them out, I wouldn't bother. I remain shocked that a company would actually just not deliver on their end of a "partnership." Runskin in no way shares my values and I deeply regret supporting this company.
Note: I don't really know the protocol for things like this, so what I decided is: I'm not going to change my original review, but I will put a disclaimer at the top directing people to this post.