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In yesterday’s post I told you about my visit to Consumer Reports’ Yonkers headquarters. Today I’d love to give you some background on Consumer Reports, why I love them, and what’s great about their Holiday Gift Guides.
Consumer Reports and Me
When I was in high school I read two magazines: Sassy, and Consumer Reports. Even back then I loved buying things—not just the usual teenage things like clothes and make-up—and I wanted to get the best for my money. It wasn’t long before family and friends started asking me what they should buy. My recommendations usually started with, “Well, Consumer Reports says…”
Why I Trust Consumer Reports
In my own experience as a consumer (I shop a LOT), Consumer Reports has been invaluable. It’s helped me make decisions about big purchases, like cars and TVs, and countless smaller things like toasters and headphones. Why is CR my go-to site before any other reviews or ratings?
Consumer Reports purchases every single product they test, even cars. Sometimes they have to purchase multiples of the same product. That costs a lot of money, but ensures that they aren’t beholden to any companies. They even use secret shoppers in order to ensure that they aren’t getting any special treatment.
Consumer Reports does not accept any advertising. Not on its website, not in its print magazine. It cannot be influenced by advertisers because it doesn’t have any.
And the “no advertising” rule goes both ways: companies are not allowed to use Consumer Reports ratings and reviews in paid ads or press releases.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit. It has no owners or shareholders. It does not exist to make anyone rich. CR works for consumers.
Eighty Years of Experience
Consumer Reports has been testing products for eighty years. Their halls are lined with pictures and actual products from their long testing history. They use state-of-the-art testing equipment, and if something doesn’t exist, their engineers build it.
So, when you look up a product on Consumer Reports you don’t have to worry about whether or not the testers were influenced by an outside force. Their goal is to create a better marketplace for consumers by using facts and data.
Where Does Their Funding Come From?
If they’re not funded by advertisers, where does the money to run Consumer Reports come from?
Most comes from subscriptions to the magazine and website, but that doesn’t cover all of their operating costs. Some of their budget comes from donations.
Consumer Reports looks a lot different from when I started reading it. CR recently rolled out a new ratings systems that is intuitive and easy to understand at a glance. Gone are the black and red dots, replaced with red and green symbols and arrows.
There’s also a new video hub, where you can see videos on topics such as how to clean your clothes dryer, or how to avoid the flu.
Holiday Gift Guides
As we get close to the busy holiday shopping season, the most useful part of the Consumer Reports website for me will be their gift guides. The first section is divided up according to who your buying for: The Family Chef, The Globetrotter, The Home Entertainment Aficionado, and many more. The guides contain only top-rated products, so you know you’ll be giving a quality gift.
I was especially drawn to the gift guide for Social Animals – the kind who like to stay connected, not actually go out and be social with three-dimensional people! The Sony h.ear bluetooth headphones are definitely on my Christmas list – some noise-isolating headphones would come in handy on the subway, drowning out whatever nonsense is going on around me without bothering the people sitting next to me.
The website also has a Daily Gift Guide, where they’re recommending one product every 24 hours, articles about Black Friday deals for different stores, guides for different categories (small kitchen appliances under $100, holiday travel safety, etc.), guides on how to haggle and how much to tip, avoiding heartburn and food poisoning at holiday dinners, and much, much more. The holiday section is just packed with lists and guides to inspire and organize you!