Trusted Reviews’ editorial independence and ethics policy

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have more than 10 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year. We’re one of the largest reviews websites in the UK, and growing fast.

We operate under clear principles designed to protect our editorial integrity and to preserve the freedom of our reviewers to say what they think about a product.

Earning our audience’s trust is central to what we do – it’s in our name after all – so here’s what we practice to ensure that.

Our values

Trusted Reviews lives by six core values which we apply across everything we do:

Integrity

We may be critical of products or companies that we cover. Because of this, we maintain a strict separation between our editorial and advertising teams. We always say what we think, not what an advertiser wants you to hear.

Rigour

We make every effort to justify our opinions and views, and use standard tools to generate objective test data where possible.

Expertise

Products are tested and reviews written by experts in their fields. That enables us to make comparisons where applicable.

Helpfulness

We focus on what our readers need to know and seek to deliver that in all that we do. We actively look for new ways to aid our readers’ decision-making and understand that not every product is right for everyone.

Enthusiasm

We have a passion for technology and innovative products, and we’ll recommend those that we think you’ll most enjoy owning, too.

Balance

We understand that products cost money and that value is often an important consideration when buying something new. 

We have policies designed to protect and ensure the above:

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct:

  • The final decision on what to review is the editor’s.
  • When covering a story, we don’t accept preconditions that restrict what we can say.
  • We don’t vet our review scores with PRs, advertisers or manufacturers.
  • Occasionally we may change a score due to a product changing. When this happens, we will make it clear within our review.
  • We never accept money or non-cash incentives to review or score something – ever.
  • We do allow our staff members to accept small non cash gifts, provided it does not create a conflict of interest, for example gift bags. Anything worth more than £100 must be refused.
  • We occasionally allow our staff to retain review units on long term loan, in order to improve product familiarity, enable updates to our reviews, and inform coverage over time. We don’t allow kit to be retained indefinitely.
  • Some kit cannot be returned after testing, for example, electric toothbrushes. In these cases we may recycle or give it away. Kit we have bought ourselves, may be re-sold.

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

In common with other UK-based sites, we allow our staff to go to product launches in order to cover the story or get access to the product. Sometimes this involves foreign travel paid for by the manufacturer.

We don’t allow our journalists or freelance journalists, to cover manufacturers where they have a potential conflict of interest.

How we review

We want you to trust what we say about a product, and to this end we will often go into some depth about the kinds of tests and approaches we use.

Choosing what to review

We select our products based only on what’s new and interesting in the market, and what readers are searching for, or buying online. We aim to review the products that most people are buying.

How we test

Our reviewers have a lot of experience with the type of products being tested. For example, mobile phone reviews are managed by an editor who has reviewed more than 100 different phones. Our home appliances are reviewed by an ex-washing machine and fridge freezer engineer and designer.

How we help you make the right choice

Reviews are structured in a way that enable you quickly take stock of a product.

  • Score, key features and pros and cons are summarised at the top of a review.
  • Review introductions are also designed to provide a quick overview of the findings of a review, so you don’t have to read the whole thing if the product clearly isn’t of interest.
  • This is where we often provide links to other products that might be more relevant.
  • We end reviews with advice on other, similar products that are similarly priced, that might fit the bill.

What our scores mean

Numbers never tell you the full story by themselves, but we give every product we review a score out of five stars to give you an indication of how it performs and how it compares to similar products.

We also have two awards, the ‘Recommended’ award and ‘Highly Recommended’ award for the top-scoring products.

Our scoring system

5 Stars – Exceptional

A score of 5 stars indicates that the product sets the benchmark, or reference, from which to judge other products. Only the very best products receive this and Trusted Reviews evaluates every 5-star award very carefully. Any product that scores 5 stars overall must be approved by the Editor and is awarded the Trusted Reviews ‘Highly Recommended’ award.

4.5 Stars – Excellent

A score of 4.5 stars indicates the product is of an extremely high quality with only minor issues that don’t affect most users. Any product that scores 4.5 stars overall earns a Trusted Reviews ‘Recommended’ award.

4 Stars – Very Good

A 4-star score means most people will find little fault with the product and would be comfortable recommending it to a friend. Some products that score 4 stars overall can earn a Trusted Reviews Recommended Award if they score 4.5-stars for value.

3.5 Stars – Good

Most people should be satisfied with a product that scores 3.5 stars, even if it has a few faults that prevent it from scoring higher. This is a common score for innovative new products that don’t yet feel complete.

3 Stars – Adequate

A product that scores 3 stars may disappoint some buyers, though if the product is a simple, single-use item then the score should be taken to mean it does its job without excelling. If you can find it discounted and the flaws aren’t a deal-breaker for you then it will be a worthwhile purchase.

2.5 Stars – Below adequate

Any product that scores 2.5-stars will have some serious flaws. Any product that scores 2.5 stars or less, should be avoided.

2 Stars – Poor

A score of 2 stars is poor and means the product has very serious flaws that can’t be overlooked.

1.5 Stars or less – Very poor and worse

Don’t buy it. In this day and age it’s rare to discover products that are this poor.

What do our awards mean?

Highly Recommended

Only products that score 5 stars overall receive the Highly Recommended Award. No product receives the Highly Recommended Award without the Editor’s approval.

Recommended

Any product that receives a Recommended award is an outstanding product that we feel anyone will enjoy owning. All 4.5-star products – and some 4-star products – receive a Trusted Reviews Recommended award.

After publication, our licensing team may separately approach the applicable retailer or manufacturer, in order to sell them the right to reproduce our Award. This is to allow manufacturers to use our Awards logos and our verdicts in their promotional material. Awards can only be used for the specific products to which they apply.

Other product advice & reporting

In addition to our reviews, we also provide product information in other forms.

‘Best-of’ roundups are lists of reviewed products to help our readers make quick comparisons between products of a similar type.

‘Hands ons’ can be previews, based on a journalist’s immediate first impressions of a product, usually time-limited, or in-progress reviews, which comprise a journalist’s ongoing report as they test a product. Both these formats are unscored.

We also provide buying advice features and round-ups, which will be an expert’s guide to a category, or sometimes a selection of an expert’s product picks.

Corrections and updates

The nature of technology and product releases means many articles are under continual revision. We provide updates to:

  • Correct factual errors, or, very occasionally, amend review scores based on errors in testing or due to significant revisions to the price, software or hardware of a product.
  • Conduct long-term reviews on products with a long shelf life.
  • Add new information or detail on a rolling basis, as it becomes available.
  • Include or remove products from our lists of recommended products (‘Best ofs’) as new products appear or old products stop being sold.
  • Remove content where we are subsequently informed that it infringes the intellectual property rights of a third party.

How we make money

You do not have to pay to benefit from the articles and reviews on Trusted Reviews.

We fund the costs of the editorial and development teams from the money we make from advertising and money received if you purchase a product via clicking on a price we have shown.

Price comparison and Deals units

On many of our pages, we show prices and deals to help our readers purchase a product.

When a reader completes a purchase with the selected retailer via the Trusted Reviews site, Trusted Reviews can earn a small fee. These fees are paid by the retailer to anyone who refers a customer to them (the ‘affiliate’).

The editorial team does not review individual products in order to make money from affiliate sales, and is not made aware of any commercial relationships that exist before reviewing a product.

Our affiliate links are either added automatically post-publication by software, or manually post publication by a member of the affiliates team. Our ‘Best overall’ and ‘Best value’ units are added by a member of the editorial team, as they also act as summaries of our buying advice.

We automatically query thousands of products every day to try and find the best deals available for a product. We will show the cheapest price on the market that we can find unless:

  • the retailer lacks repute.
  • or generates poor rates of purchase completion (which we use as a signal of retailer quality).

Whenever possible we’ll also highlight Recommended Deals that may not be the cheapest but come with good customer service.

Sometimes, we will agree to advertise a specific offer from a specific retailer. On those occasions, we will clearly label that this is the case.

Voucher codes

Trusted Reviews runs a Voucher code site, in partnership with provider Upfeat, to provide discount codes to our readers who are looking to buy a product.

When a user completes their purchase we may receive a commission on that sale should a commercial arrangement exist between the retailer and Upfeat.

Advertising

Our advertising and editorial teams sit in separate offices and report into different parts of the business. We are always clear with our advertisers that they can have no influence over reviews or their scores.

On occasions, Trusted Reviews may create content which is paid for by trusted third parties. This content can take a variety of forms, but we always clearly label content of this nature with one of the labels listed below, as described in our Terms and Conditions so that you can identify where this is the case, understand how the content has been created and be clear on the extent of the third party’s involvement.

“In partnership with”

This term is used to describe content which is wholly or partly funded by a trusted third party but which is editorially independent and over which Trusted Reviews has full editorial control. The content is written by our editorial teams and is subject to the same rules, regulations and standards of professional journalism as apply to all of our editorial content. The content will not be submitted to our partners for approval.

The partner may approach us with ideas and themes for inclusion, which are discussed with our editorial teams before entering into a partnership arrangement. Our editorial teams are not obliged to accept a partnership arrangement and will only do so where they decide that the proposed partnership does not compromise their editorial integrity.

“Promotional Feature”

This term is used to describe advertisement features, the content of which is paid for and controlled by the advertiser, or jointly controlled with Trusted Reviews. This type of content is created by our commercial teams in collaboration with the advertiser, who will have the right to approve the content and suggest amendments. The content is subject to the regulation of the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

Trusted Reviews never allows its Reviews article format to be used in the above.

Tell us how we’re doing

We endeavour to follow the above standards in all that we do. If you find that we’re falling short, please email the editor and we’ll do our best to put it right.

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