How independent is independent? This is a knotty problem in an industry that sets great store on product testing.

It's well-known that sponsoring companies choose only to promote the results if their product comes out on top of a particular test and the legitimacy of that practice is a is a frequent gripe in the technology industry. And the sponsorship arrangement is often justified by arguing that otherwise the valuable comparison data would not be produced. The trouble with this is that there is a clear temptation for companies that end up doing well in such reports to hide the fact that they paid for the test in the first place

There are such things as independent labs and independent tests and companies that try blur the distinction between paid-for tests and truly independent ones will look shifty. That's what's happened to Neverfail - although in its case, it didn't try to blur the distinction but straightforwardly tried to deny that there had been any payment.

As Neverfail's experience has made clear, however, part of the price that lab-test sponsors have to pay if they are able to not publish those reports that count against its products is that they have to be open, honest and transparent when it comes to the test reports that do. Otherwise what should be an endorsement becomes a question of corporate credibility.

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