I recently read this post on the brilliant Huzzah Vintage blog, about the 'free labor' performed by Mod Cloth's customers. It's touchy subject, but as someone who is an advocate for human and worker's rights. I see so much truth in what the post argues. Here is an excerpt, but please read the post and watch the clip...
"Perhaps not surprisingly, this complimentary customer labor is cloaked in a rhetoric of 'fashion democratization.' Customers are flattered into believing that they are a contributing member of an exclusive sartorial collective, and that the free work they do for the site is somehow different, somehow less exploitative than that which paid focus group participants do for major retailers like Gap Inc. and Zara parent company Inditex. The reality, of course, is that the only thing different about Modcloth's strategy is that it is cheaper and has the value-added benefit of promoting much deeper engagement with the brand and website (something the company perhaps learned from its young, start-up savvy investors). Like so many Americans today, Modcloth customer-laborers are working harder and harder for less and less. As far as we can tell, this is not a model of democracy, but a capitalist's filthy wet dream."
This issue has been the topic of many other blog posts as well. I think it's just easier to see when the company is as large and ever present as MC.
As a blogger I've( and perhaps you too, if you have a blog) been contacted to advertise/promote things in this space without any sort of compensation. Which okay, I may do if I am contacted by a product/service that I truly support. To date I've only done that for one service - SMASHION. But, I do write about clothing and products that I like all the time - and no, I'm not sponsored, I just like those things and wish to share about them. That being said I have been contacted by companies wanting me to review their products and services without any sort of compensation for my time. I also feel that were I to review something I wouldn't normally use or buy - I'd be compromising my principles. Also, people should be compensated for their work. Just because something is fun, doesn't mean it doesn't require a certain set of skills and time.
(I've seen this a lot on job-postings as of late as well - where they are looking for social media/blogger interns requiring a whole slew of skills and set hours - and they don't pay. But, don't get me started on that - there are a bunch of laws related to this that really anger me.)
But, anyway- I want to know how you, blog amigos, feel about this.
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