Transparency Update

I’m not unbiased. I have conflicts of interest. Throughout Coverage Critic’s history, I’ve tried to be transparent and let my audience make their own judgments about whether I should be trusted.

Old Approach

Previously, my transparency page usually listed both:

  • Names of companies I had financial relationships with
  • Details about the terms of those financial relationships

Here’s how I once described the relationship I had with the wireless carrier Ting:

Ting offers me a $25 commission for every new line of service activated.

Initially, Coverage Critic’s financial relationships with cell phone services all followed standard payment structures that were matters of public knowledge. For example, Ting ran an affiliate program that offered the same $25 per line rate to other website owners.

When I started Coverage Critic, it made sense for me to participate in carriers’ standard arrangements. From the perspective of cell carriers, my audience was too small to justify the time or effort involved in individualized negotiations.

New Approach

With Coverage Critic growing in popularity and influence, I’ve reached the scale where I can sometimes negotiate my own arrangements rather than taking whatever standard deal a company offers.

I’m hoping to preserve my editorial integrity without sacrificing too much of Coverage Critic’s revenue. My new approach isn’t perfect, but I think it strikes a good balance.

Here’s the gist:

  • Any company is eligible for exposure on my website. Financial relationships aren’t required.
  • Outbound links directing to companies’ websites are mostly reserved for carriers offering me financial terms that I deem adequate.1
  • Companies lacking financial relationships will be named, discussed, recommended, etc., but my visitors will have to navigate manually to these companies’ websites.

Over the next year, I anticipate I’ll opt out of some companies’ standard programs that I currently participate in. In some cases, that’ll lead to me forming new agreements with better terms. In other cases, I expect I’ll be unable to form new agreements. That’s fine too.

New Transparency Page

Sharing the details of arrangements I negotiate isn’t as easy as sharing the details of standard arrangements that are already public knowledge. Both the companies Coverage Critic partners with and I have strategic interests in keeping the details of our financial arrangements private.

On my new transparency page, I no longer list details about the commission rates companies pay me. I simply list which companies I have financial relationships with and which I don’t.

I considered continuing to publicize commission rates I receive whenever I take a standard deal that’s already a matter of public knowledge. However, I worry that would create an illusion of transparency rather than genuine transparency.

In a sense, the custom arrangements I negotiate (and want to withhold details about) are the most interesting. That said, I’m not trying to hide the rates in the standard deals. You can see an archived copy of the old, more detailed transparency page here.


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.Richard Feynman
I take Feynman’s point seriously. I welcome pushback from anyone who thinks I’m fooling myself. Please reach out if you ever think financial relationships are hindering the quality of my recommendations or making Coverage Critic a less useful site.

I took a stance of extreme transparency when taking that position was costless. It’s not lost on me that I’m pivoting to a less transparent approach at the same time that Coverage Critic reached a scale where reduced transparency could benefit me.

Cartoon image illustrating a loss of a wireless connection

MobileX Data Outage

I’ve been trying out the new carrier MobileX. It’s founded by Peter Adderton, who previously founded Boost Mobile.

MobileX looks awfully promising. I’ll have more to say about that in a later post. But despite MobileX’s promise and great pricing, I’ve been holding off on recommending the service until it matures. I’m wary of brand-new carriers. Typical consumers are probably better off with carriers that have had enough time to work out the kinks in their systems.

My hesitations were validated when MobileX experienced a data outage on Thursday. I don’t think the issues lasted all that long, and standard calling and texting continued to function.

I first became aware of the outage with this tweet:

I appreciate MobileX’s communication style. It doesn’t match the vague corporate-speak that’s usually seen in the telecom industry. The company followed up on the initial tweet with this one:

I didn’t notice exactly when my data service ceased working, but service was back about an hour after the first tweet came out.