Why we won’t be reviewing any more Divine chocolate…

Posted by in Misc on November 17 2008 | Leave A Comment

Earlier today, Simon posted a review of Divine Orange Milk Chocolate. As with all our reviews it was an honest, personal opinion of the chocolate.

Simon concluded that the bar was “okay” but “unremarkable”. Not an entirely positive conclusion, but we’ve certainly had worse, and when you do impartial reviews of chocolate, the occasional poor review goes with the territory.

This evening, two overly positive comments from a “Pete” and “Laura” got me suspicious, and it didn’t take long to gather the evidence that both these comments not only came from the same person, but they originated from within the Divine Chocolate HQ.

This is nothing short of lying and deceitful behaviour from a company that supposedly prides itself on its Fair Trade business practices, and as editor of Chocablog, I won’t stand for it. We are quite happy to engage in discussions with chocolatiers, but if you have to resort to faking positive comments in order to promote your product, then we simply won’t deal with you any more.

Simon and I were both slightly taken aback by the impolite tone in our initial dealings with Divine’s PR representative but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. But this is too much.

Consequently we will not be reviewing any more Divine products on Chocablog.

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Comments On This Post

  1. Peter

    Well done! Honesty is what is missing in our rather broken society, and when a company dares to use a “Fair Trade” label, that’s doubly insulting. Tell you what, I will not be *buying* any of their products either, let alone being interested in reviews…

  2. Wow! Thanks for posting about that. I’m often skittish about telling about what goes on behind the scenes with sock puppets on my blog as well as other unethical behavior I’ve witnessed by companies that market themselves as “organic” or “better for you.”

    Kudos for coming out.

  3. Matt

    Thanks for exposing the sneakiness. I’ll cross Divine products off my list, too. Which is too bad, since I supported them in principle in $ before. But I won’t reward deception.

  4. Agreed! Congratulations for the transparency!

  5. Molly

    Yay, SuperDom!!

  6. That’s OK – I tried their stuff once and did not like it.

    We buy the stuff Hannaford sells in the organic section.. I forget what it is called – pictures of monkeys on it I think.. 70% cacao. Runs about $2.50 a small bar but we only eat one or two 8ths of it a day..

  7. Jim

    Well done Dom!! ChocolateMission from now on will also be a DIVINE free zone! The cheeky gits!!

  8. Thanks for having integrity. Its a shame that Divine would result to such deceptive practices to compensate for a mediocre product. A product that relies on guerilla PR undermines what you’re doing as a reputable site.

    If only their chocolate had the quality that is the Idaho Spud, they would not need to pretend it was worth purchasing.

    (btw, totally kidding about that last part and the webpage. The IS was the worst rated “chocolate” I could find on any blog)

  9. Leigh

    Please will you review other fairtrade chocolate in their place?

    Above anything this is a matter of human welfare, promoting fairtrade products is vital!

    Thanks

  10. Great investigation, guys! Thanks for exposing the unfairness of the company that prides itself as ‘fair-trade’. They surely weren’t acting fair by using this blog to promote their product. Shame on Divine, kudos to you!

  11. Well done Dom, I’m proud of you, boss! :)
    I don’t think any of your readers need to be worried about the Fair Trade tag – if it’s out there, we’ll find it, eat it and review it. HONESTLY.

  12. wow – That’s really unfortunate behavior on their part.

  13. Jim

    Fair play to you for the principled stand – it would be interesting to see if “Pete” and “Laura” (or indeed, anyone from Divine) return and post to defend their innocence?

  14. Peter

    How dreadful. This will no untold damage to their reputation. I hope they will make a comment about it as I really like their products, but I’d be wary of continuing to support them in the light of this allegation.

  15. Bit of a shame, I’ve really enjoyed all the communications I’ve had with Divine, they seem(ed) like a really decent company. That comment by Pete though really reeked of PR speak, notably – “Unlike others on the market, its natural flavourings and Fairtrade certification make it the best chocolate treat out there!”

    Gotta try harder guys, bit less robotic, bit more human.

  16. On behalf of Divine Chocolate I just wanted to respond to the comments posted here today about Divine. A member of Divine staff did post a comment on this blog from her personal email in defence of Divine Orange Chocolate. We realise this was inappropriate, have addressed the matter, and we will ensure it does not happen again. As always Divine Chocolate would like to thank all Divine lovers everywhere – who continue to choose Divine and that way support the cocoa farmers who co-own the company.

    Charlotte Borger, Head of Communications, Divine Chocolate Ltd

  17. Well how about that! They even sent me an email about the situation. I still like Divine. :)

  18. I feel that the reaction towards Divine is a little strong, perhaps even childish. The foolish actions of one employee shouldn’t, IMHO, lead to a decision to ban all reviews of products produced by that company. Just my two penneth. Regards

  19. Well done Divine – took a little while to stamp on the issue but at least they have done so. Guess there’ll be some guidelines appearing on the Divine intranet tomorrow! :)

  20. sorry did i miss something? even if someone works for a company are they not allowed personal opinions????
    How childish of you to rule out divine.. who cares if divine were transparent, isnt the ban just hurting the farmers, who deserve all the support they can get from chocoholics?

  21. Nell

    “sorry did i miss something? even if someone works for a company are they not allowed personal opinions????”

    If she pretends to be someone called Pete (do I have that correct?) in order to post I think that’s stretching the concept of expressing personal opinion. It might still have been inappropriate, but I don’t think that anyone would have felt so angry if she had just said “I work for Divine and I love their orange chocolate”.

  22. Lemon Curry

    “sorry did i miss something? even if someone works for a company are they not allowed personal opinions????”

    Claire, if someone wants to post a PERSONAL opinion, one does not use a false name and does not act as two different persons. No one said that an employee cannot have an opinion of his own but there is a certain boundary in PR that should not be crossed. In this case Divine’s employee acted in totally unprofessional way, therefore I absolutely agree with Dom and other chocabloggers. Besides when a company hires someone it has to be aware of the fact that actions of every worker build the company’s overall image and it has to be ready to take responsibility for these actions.

  23. Justin

    Just in terms of noticing things… the adjective “childish” was used in both of the two dissenting opinions. This isn’t an accusation, but it’s an awfully inflammatory descriptor to be used twice. Plus standing up for your opinion and condemning the expression of others’ opinions is a bit paradoxical.

    Claire, “How childish of you to rule out divine…”
    Steven, “I feel that the reaction towards Divine is a little strong, perhaps even childish…”

  24. Nell, I agree, it would have been much better if the employee had made it clear that he/she works/ed for Divine. The point I wanted to make was that it seems somewhat harsh to boycott Divine based on the actions of one person. It might be likened to a doctor making a mistake. Would one then say “the whole of the NHS is bad, lets boycott them”?

  25. Mr/Ms Curry,
    “one does not use a false name”.

    lol, I just gotta ask if that’s your real name ;-)

  26. Steven, you said, “The point I wanted to make was that it seems somewhat harsh to boycott Divine based on the actions of one person.”

    You’ve mistaken what Dom said. He said that he won’t be REVIEWING any other Divine products. Not that the product should be boycott or that the products don’t have merit, but that his blog and reviewers will not be taken advantage of.

  27. Justin,
    apologies, not meant to be inflammatory, but when I stop and consider the meaning I wanted to express then it’s about right. As I read it someone at Divine acted childishly, Dom spotted it and called them. Nice one Dom. Divine haven’t tried to hide anything; Charlotte responded on here and has dealt with it. Lesson learned and, IMHO, the end of it. Peace.

  28. Thanks cybele. Yeah, not boycott, “boycott of reviews or something”. thanks :-)
    The thought of trying to protect anything that invites public opinion from “being taken advantage of” amuses me. I mean, I could say “wow, orangey chocolate is yummy” in one of the threads. Are you suggesting that readers of this blog would take that as fact and rush out and buy it? Oh the power ;-)

  29. Steven – I find it odd that you’re belittling the subject of the conversation, yet you keep having it. Ethics are ethics.

    And yes, bloggers do have an influence on candy purchases. Not much else, but we do have that.

  30. cybele. So, are the ethics of the company the same as the ethics of an individual who works for them?

  31. Steven – I have made no judgment on this issue regarding Divine. I have no dog in this fight.

    I don’t tolerate sock puppets on my own site and I loathe seeing other bloggers playing host to them. As I said before, that doesn’t make the products bad but it does call to suspect the entire organization if they tolerate this sort behavior when they are called on it. In this case Divine has been very responsive. (I also got an email because of my participation in this conversation from their USA operations.) Other companies that I’ve dealt with don’t seem to care and that makes me think that they think that other breaches are also acceptable.

    My question to you is this, are the actions of an employee of a company enough to keep you from patronizing that company? I’d say that many of us would say yes in certain circumstances. In this case it was more than one staff member (Dom & Simon had issues with earlier interactions.)

  32. cybele, thanks for the lengthy reply.
    To answer your question. That depends. If the company is small then yes, I suppose so, if the bad experience was from the owner.
    In a larger company, then no, there is an increased chance that one of the many employees is bad/has had a bad day/makes a mistake.

    I suppose my question in response might be along the lines of “Do you stop patronizing every company who is employing someone who has made a mistake?” though I suppose I could also ask “Have you ever made a mistake at work and would you hope that as a result of that all of your customers would stop patronizing you/your company/your employer?”

  33. Jim

    Steven your like a dog chasing its own tail

  34. Bob

    I think I’d be willing to forgive Divine this, if only their chocolate actually tasted good …

    I pity the poor farmers who put all that effort into producing beans that go into a bar that’s about as tasty the packaging in comes in.

  35. Samuel

    Divine like all that other leftist shit is a full of it as the EU.

  36. Rob

    I have never witnessed such a mountain out of a molehill in all my life!

  37. Bob

    Well, this comment isn’t from inside the factory. I have never tasted such a good tasting treat as the Ginger and Orange Dark Chocolate bar they have.

    I’m not a chocolate expert, so I’m sure there is better stuff out there – but I ordered a pack of ten right after I had one.

    I don’t even usually like chocolate but this was absolutely exquisite tasting.

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