Belkin's alleged, and now confirmed, payola scheme may have been one of the first times we've heard about their shady practices, but an employee of Belkin says it's actually very common.
To summarize the note, Belkin's supposedly paid for positive reviews, gave products with custom firmware to reviewers in order to hide bugs, faked certification logos, wrote poor reviews of competitor's products and backed out of CES for lack of funding. The company's supposedly in such bad shape that it's "commonly accepted that current CEO Mark Reynoso is running everything into the ground, while increasing his salary year after year."
The worst bit, for consumers, is that "the majority of Belkin employees purchased competitors products for home use, even with ours being offered free, as they are of such poor quality." On the other hand, we've had fairly decent experiences with Belkin products, so it's not as if EVERYTHING they release is bad (assuming this is true). And of course, the majority of Belkin employees aren't a part of this scheme, and this isn't an official written policy, but it's more of a thing that's forced upon them by management and their particular corporate culture.
Full text follows. Thanks tipster!
While never mentioned in an "official" policy, for years it has been pressed upon ALL Belkin employees to do whatever is needed to get good product reviews and good press. Everything from sending blog writers a device with custom firmware that hides known bugs yet claiming it to be official release firmware, faking hardware logo certifications (specifically Apple and MSFT), releasing blatantly inaccurate data from test results making our devices look superior to others, to placing "tailored" reviews of our products into places visible to consumers (as reported Amazon, etc), as well as writing poor reviews of competitors products. In the past there have even monthly awards given to Business Units who achieved the most positive reviews, regardless as to the products rate of customer returns. The concept being that even if a consumer has been mislead by a review or data on the box, the chance that they will return the product is very little. Infact, our products are such junk, when an internal survey was done, it was found that the majority of Belkin employees purchased competitors products for home use, even with ours being offered free, as they are of such poor quality.
We have paid magazines for positive reviews, made custom devices or fixtures for use at trade shows to ensure quality demos. One such example would be a fixture that runs hidden cable to a TV or audio receiver, yet claiming the broadcast is coming from a wireless transmitter, or through a USB hub.
This has been going on for years. Over the past several years office moral has been dwindling, as it seems to be a common feeling that the company is clearly in a death spiral. In the past month over 10% of the workforce has been laid off (including all QC) as profits have dropped significantly. Further more, the company has been trying to activly back out of paying for the brand new HQ being built in L.A., however they are unable to do so, stretching the companies limited cash even further. Recently, the purchasing of pens, paper clips and post it notes was halted in order to save money. In fact, the company has lost so much money, it was announced in November that a booth at CES 09 would be economically impossible.
Two of the three co-founders of the company quit over the poor direction Belkin as taken, over 70% of the employees in certain business units have quit. It is commonly accepted that current CEO Mark Reynoso is running everything into the ground, while increasing his salary year after year.
This only scratches the surface of the shady tactics and slimy methods Belkin uses. One thing I will say is that this is not the fault of the employees. The average employee makes a very honest attempt at releasing high quality products, however, upper management generally pushes employees so hard to release more products at a faster rate, with a lower production cost, that it is impossible to produce a quality product. It is very common upper management to force a product to be released even though major concerns about the product are well known.