The Debacle with TheEroticReview (TER)

I recently had an experience with TER that could be easily overlooked or written off as “just another provider griping about what some of us already know.” I urge you not to do this, and this is why: I choose to be an escort because I enjoy escorting; I don’t need to escort to pay my bills. This is a very privileged position, and it is not lost on me that it confers certain responsibilities. Although I consider myself more of a lover than a fighter, I believe that one of these responsibilities is to bring attention to injustices when those who are affected by them cannot or choose not to for fear of the repercussions of doing so. This is one of those instances.

Many escorts rely on TER for most of their business, so rocking the boat with TER could have serious material consequences that affect their livelihood in very real ways. Some providers might have no issues with TER, and for that I am happy. But for those who do, but are unable to address them because of the potential consequences, it’s important that we as an “erotic community” are at least aware of the philosophies and practices that drive this goliath of the review industry (TER). That is why I am writing about my personal experience, and why I challenge others—providers and clients alike—to think about how we would really like our interactions to work; whether or not the current review culture helps to actualize that; and to acknowledge how our personal choices contribute to the problems and/or solutions in the escort/client world.

I don’t like the fact that this issue (with TER) is even an issue, and that it continues to take any of my energy. I could ignore it and stop discussing it completely, but there’s an important reason for not doing so: because this issue is perfect case and point about who controls or regulates provider choices and how they do so.

The basic premise of my TER debacle is this: As a VIP member of TER in good standing (and with positive reviews), I received an error stating, “You are not allowed to post messages,” when attempting to post a reply in a TER discussion board. I opened a support ticket with TER because this was the first time I’d received such an error. TER responded by saying, “It looks like you have a ‘strict no review policy’ thus, you have been delisted.” I replied by asking for further clarification, and instead of exhibiting any desire to communicate constructively, TER retorted with this response: “If you do not want reviews, even if it is from new clients only, then TER is not the site for you.” TER closed the support ticket and did not respond to my next 2 requests for support. 2 days later, I received an error when trying to log in to TER that read: “You have been Banned! It is unfortunate that sometimes in our little community it is necessary to ask certain people not to return.”

Prior to this ordeal, I’d been nothing but a positive member of the TER community. I’d had favorable reviews posted, and I’d actively participated in the TER discussion boards, answering questions for newbies and having nothing but favorable interactions with other providers and clients.

My argument is that TER didn’t have a legitimate reason for delisting me or banning me from the site. They did so solely because they oppose my personal choice to advertise as a no-review provider. I continue to contend that respecting a provider’s choice to advertise in a forthright manner about preferring to not receive reviews shouldn’t be based on TER’s assessment of whether or not her reason for doing so is “good enough.” It’s a personal business choice, and one that doesn’t affect TER at all (given that they post reviews regardless of the provider’s policy, because the purpose of the site is to help clients).

To date, TER refuses to concede any wrong-doing or to engage in any constructive dialogue. On October 7th, they responded to another provider’s tweet: “[former name] was not banned for asking wrong question…” No further comment was provided. Instead of doing what would be in the best interest of the community (that is, to engage the issue with reason and transparency), they remain indignant. Why? I argue that it’s because transparent and constructive dialogue would expose deeply misogynistic philosophies that undermine providers’ agency, and ultimately the integrity of the review culture.

Why Not Be Reviewed?

Choices for preferring not to be reviewed can vary. For some providers, it is because they find something sacred or special in the shared intimate details between two people. For others, it may be to maintain discretion, or because they find crude details distasteful. For others, it may be for other concerns about privacy, such as in not being associated with sexual activity due to a job, security clearance, or family reason.

My clients don’t mind my no-review policy; they know about it prior to booking. I offer to provide previous client references, or references from other well-known and reputable providers, and they make a decision about whether they’re willing to see me.

Interestingly, many clients prefer not to write reviews, and we don’t challenge their right to do so. If a platform existed in which providers told intimate and private details about their clients, even if they were false or the client didn’t want them shared, and banned men for identifying as no-review clients, we would be up in arms. It’s not right to do this to men, so why do we allow TER to do it to women? No one should be punished for asking that their choices be respected.

Why It’s A Problem

TER claims that reviews are purely fiction. If they truly stand by this claim, then they should have no problem posting narratives beginning with the disclaimer “This is my fictional fantasy story…” I challenge TER to state plainly whether they’d do so, and my inkling is that they would not. The elephant in the room hardly classifies as an elephant anymore: we all know sure well that TER’s disclaimer only refers to sexually explicit reviews as “fantasy fiction” in order to have plausible deniability about the legality of the site. Ironically, the same TER administrators will reject a client’s review if they believe it to be inaccurate (or not contain enough sexual detail). Furthermore, instead of allowing the client to choose the details they are most comfortable sharing, TER only posts salacious reviews that conform to their demands about sexual details. I’d love to hear TER explain how these 2 contradictory policies work together or, in an ideal world, to admit that their policy for approving reviews is completely at odds with their claim of being purely fantasy material.

TER is the #1 source of clients for many providers, so they wield the power to strong-arm provider acquiescence through implicit or explicit threat of cutting off this main source of revenue. In plain English, this is coercion: the use of power, intimidation, or force to gain compliance. It is unfortunately that so many ladies must rely on TER just because it’s where 90%+ of their work comes from; it’s a problematic monopoly that needs an honest alternative if TER has no interest in treating everyone (clients and providers) with respect.

The reality is that my no-review policy doesn’t hurt TER at all. Unabashedly, TER’s purpose is to post clients’ “fictional” reviews, regardless of the provider’s preference. If a provider under-delivered or did wrong by a client, surely her no-review policy would not prevent this information from being shared in a review. Given this, it’s obvious that banning a provider solely for having a no-review policy is nothing more than a mean-spirited and coercive tactic for undermining a provider’s personal choice of business practices.

TER made the assumption, “If you don’t want reviews, you don’t want to participate in TER.” That’s a faulty assumption. Providers can participate in discussion boards, Whitelists, and email conversations, all of which are good for both providers and TER.

What’s particularly sad about the current review culture perpetuated by TER is that it doesn’t have to be this way. TER could very well be an honest, helpful, and respectful platform for both clients and providers if it was run differently.

No review system is going to make everyone happy, but that shouldn’t stop us from improving. Many people take issue with TER’s rating scale, and that’s a topic for a whole different conversation. As far as I’m concerned, I could even handle questionable rating rules (despite the fact that not allowing reviewers to choose their own rating is not without its consequences). However, TER refusing to post a review unless it contains specific sexual play-by-play details, and delisting ladies who advertise as not wanting those detail shared, is wrong. Reviews can be both accurate and helpful to clients without demanding sexual details. If TER contends otherwise, that’s proof of their disregard for providers as nothing more than useable sex objects.