The Fall of Consumer Reports

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windaar
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The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by windaar » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:49 pm

For my Dad CU was the gold standard. And for much of my adult life it was for me too. It has been sad to see its slow decline which has mystified me, given the rep it had. A few years ago I was sent these cheesy "raffle tickets" from them that I had to opt-out of. Then they suddenly switched their venerable car buying info service to TrueCar, causing me to be repeatedly called by every dealer in my area. In the mean time, their print edition reviews needed to be supplemented by their for-pay online services. Now I get an e-mail that they settled a class-action lawsuit for violating the Michigan privacy laws. They were selling my personal info to 3rd parties without my consent. I can't imagine why they drove a sure thing into the ground.

phisher4
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by phisher4 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:55 pm

I lost all respect for CR after they laid off the staff of the consumerist, an amazing (but now defunct) milennial-run consumer-focused website.

I do believe they're toast. I'd give it another 10 years, at most, unless they get rid of Maria Tellado, the CEO, and make some other wholesale changes.

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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:00 pm

The singular space that they formerly occupied has been breached by all sorts of online reviews. Nonetheless, there are certain areas where they remain an indispensable part of my buying decisions.

While their testing of automobiles may leave out some aspects that are crucial to me, buying a car without reviewing their test seem to me to be foolhardy. Their efforts at being objective and not getting swept up in car mag hyperbole seems essential.
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FoolMeOnce
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by FoolMeOnce » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:05 pm

windaar wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:49 pm
I can't imagine why they drove a sure thing into the ground.
I doubt any of the changes you mentioned were their preferred path. A paid subscription model for consumer goods reviews was just probably no longer viable, and they tried monetizing in other ways as the ship slowly sank.

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nisiprius
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by nisiprius » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:09 pm

It's sad, but it is what it is. I hung onto my subscription for about three years past the time when it held any real value or interest, somehow hoping against hope that if I kept throwing dollars at it, it would somehow turn back into what it had been.

It is a bad joke and an insult to suggest that online reviews are in any way comparable to what Consumer Reports used to do. Most of Consumer Reports' value came from its independence and its integrity. Not even reviewmeta.com can solve the problems of online reviews.

One of the things that did Consumer Reports in, as far as I was concerned, was model proliferation. I don't know what the factors are, but obviously modern production and marketing techniques allow manufacturers to quickly produces literally dozens of models with small differences between them. (In some cases, I think it is intentional, to guarantee that no two stores are actually carrying the "same model" so that they can all offer meaningless price guarantees, knowing that you will never find exactly the "same model" at a competitor's store). It was always a problem but nowadays it is virtually impossible to match up a Consumer Reports product review with the specific model you can find in a store.
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6miths
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by 6miths » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:14 pm

Totally agree that the proliferation of models was and continues to be a pain for both CR and consumers. Also that online reviews do not come near what CR provided and in some areas still provides. They still do some good journalism. I continue to enjoy things they do on medical issues. I still subscribe online and look at the print issue now and then in Costco while having a hot dog or at the bookstore or library. Largely nostalgia I suppose.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by lightheir » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:39 pm

It just got swamped by the speed and volume of online review like Amazon.

It also has become too easy to game cr reviews - if your small appliance gets bad reviews, you just change the name and its too hard to correlate. Happened every time to me when I pulled up stuff to buy - all the poorly reviewed one's were rebranded with new names.

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Taylor Larimore
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Consumer Reports ?

Post by Taylor Larimore » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:48 pm

windaar:

I have subscribed to Consumer Reports for may years. In my opinion, it remains, by far, the best independent source of consumer information.

Best wishes
Taylor
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Re: Consumer Reports ?

Post by RudyS » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:00 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:48 pm
windaar:

I have subscribed to Consumer Reports for may years. In my opinion, it remains, by far, the best independent source of consumer information.

Best wishes
Taylor
I would agree, but nevertheless "left" them 2 yerars ago.

I have been reading my parents' CR since I was about 13. I bought my own subscription after DW and I got married, over 50 years ago. And kept it till about 2 years ago. I finally left, for the following reasons:
- magazine now has many more "consumerism" articles than product reviews.
- Most product reviews sent me to the extra-cost on-line version for more detail and info on additional models.
- We are now downsizing and not buying many, if any, large items.

sc9182
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by sc9182 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:08 pm

Equally importantly , consumers like some of the discussion on features, how to setup, or better yet, make them work beyond what Manufacturer originally intended such devices to be. Kinda off-label use.

Also, many Appliances price as a % of family's total budget may have fallen off over the years. To give an idea, washer dryer pair used to be about $1000 say in 90s, you can still get a decent set for that price today, or even lower, if you scored a good sale. The price remained stable after good 20-25 years! If it comes to small household appliances, those have become use and throw if doesn't work beyond warranry period. .

Also many online/video sites provide easily repairable procedures parts, cheap parts online or on auction sites. You can be a good DIY'r.

Why worry about reliability if you are going to throw one away and buy a new one. Or do DIY repair with cheap available parts and repair videos.

Why pay for magazine!? BTW, Do like CR, we do pay a visit to local library occasionally, or access online - even with their slightly diminished relevance in current day and age.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by five2one » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:31 pm

They lost me when a recommended "top lawn mower" caused me problems.

I eventually fixed the problems but their damage was done and it showed me their lack of research.
I'll pay for good data but they over-leveraged their name and reputation.

Their blind loyalty to certain car brands also caused me to question their independence not to mention their "journalism" on Suzuki Samurai that ruined an otherwise economical off-roader.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by stan1 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:18 pm

Another way people lost trust is with appliances. It's not CR's fault that appliances went from being designed and supported to last 20-30 years down to 5-10 years. I'm sure millions of subscribers got burned when a "recommended" brand or model had to be replaced much more quickly than expected because a repair was so expensive or a part was not available.

I don't buy orange juice or eat at national chain restaurants so a lot of their reviews are out of context for me. I go to Wirecutter much more often than Consumer Reports these days as they do a better job of anticipating what I want to buy.

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munemaker
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Re: Consumer Reports ?

Post by munemaker » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:34 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:48 pm
windaar:

I have subscribed to Consumer Reports for may years. In my opinion, it remains, by far, the best independent source of consumer information.

Best wishes
Taylor
I never subscribed but I do buy the auto issue every year. It has a lot of value to me. I do think it used to be better, years ago.

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Re: Consumer Reports ?

Post by carolinaman » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:32 am

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:48 pm
windaar:

I have subscribed to Consumer Reports for may years. In my opinion, it remains, by far, the best independent source of consumer information.

Best wishes
Taylor
+1. I believe CR still provides very good information and ratings on consumer products. There are many other sources of information for consumer products, but a major difference is that CR is truly objective in their reviews whereas I am never sure of these free online review sites. How do they make money to survive? Which product companies fund them?

JBTX
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by JBTX » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:45 am

Perhaps a better model of success for it to follow is Morningstar.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:41 pm

Though I do look at CR when making a big purchase (like appliances), I just find there is not enough explanation on their criteria. They seem to not care about features I care about. I mainly use it to not buy the worst rated products or brands with the worst repair histories.

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BogleFanGal
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by BogleFanGal » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:51 pm

stan1 wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:18 pm
Another way people lost trust is with appliances. It's not CR's fault that appliances went from being designed and supported to last 20-30 years down to 5-10 years. I'm sure millions of subscribers got burned when a "recommended" brand or model had to be replaced much more quickly than expected because a repair was so expensive or a part was not available.
Yup: several items I bought based upon CR reviews all died early or had costly problems: lawnmower, an edger/trimmer, washing machine and refrigerator.

I noticed that they rated my latest car choice high in reliability. That makes me very nervous. :shock:

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nisiprius
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by nisiprius » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:58 pm

6miths wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:14 pm
...I continue to enjoy things they do on medical issues. I still subscribe online and look at the print issue now and then in Costco while having a hot dog or at the bookstore or library. Largely nostalgia I suppose.
For about five years I kept saying to myself "the product reviews aren't very useful any more, but it's worth it just for the three or four articles a year they do on things like rating health insurance."

But it just got to be too much.

They also kept siphoning off more and more content into extra-cost add-ons. As a matter of fact, isn't the medical content extra-cost now? (Web search...) yeah, the Consumer Reports OnHealth newsletter. $24/year.

The last straw was when we actually wanted to buy something and found that the product review in that category was less than a page long and had no details. To see the the full report--not just the combined store but the separate scores on how it did on ability to clear end-of-driveway plow piles, etc. you had to go to the website. And I have always thought that it was completely unacceptable to charge a print subscriber extra money to access the website. So since it was clear that all the cream had been skimmed off to the website, and since I get no-cost access to the website via my local public library, I used the website that way and let the subscription lapse.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by drk » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:52 pm

I'm a Millennial and have never used Consumer Reports. The few times I would have, I ran into a paywall and went elsewhere. In the zeitgeist, it's like Reader's Digest or Life magazine.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by Turbo29 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:04 pm

BogleFanGal wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:51 pm


I noticed that they rated my latest car choice high in reliability. That makes me very nervous. :shock:
Their car ratings can be very flaky sometimes. I purchased a 2016 Mazda 3 new after the 2017's had come out (model years almost identical). A few months later they list "Used cars to avoid" and the 2016 Mazda 3 is on it. Yet when you look at their detailed evaluation (the dots with arrows) one category is average, two or three are above average, and all the rest (the expensive mechanical systems) are much better than average. No negative categories at all. Wait another year and the 2016 Mazda 3 is back in their good graces.

In my opinion, CR and AAA are two organizations that are just not what they used to be.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by squirm » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:10 pm

I just go to Youtube to get reasonable reviews...and sometimes in the comments section...for example I was reading up and watching a review of some portable generators this morning....I think a lot of the Amazon reviews are fake, but I do check it with the fake review sites.

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dual
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by dual » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:22 pm

I never had much use for CR. They consider themselves experts on everything from orange juice to computer flash drives to cars and trucks to house roofing and everything else where they assert their expertise. Whenever they review something where I have in-depth knowledge I do not agree with their criteria nor their conclusions. They show a strong and IMHO unwarranted bias against US made cars, shared by many here perhaps due to their influence, but I have owned first a Ford then a Chrysler for the last 30 years and had excellent service. Prior to that due to their influence I bought a Toyota and had poor reliability for example the infamous clicking starter motor failure. Anecdotal I acknowledge but their reviews and method of measuring reliability do not seem objective to me.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by Afty » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:33 pm

While I want to like CR, I find that their reviews often don’t match up to reality, or that the criteria they base their ratings on are not the ones I actually care about. For example, I was recently looking for a new vacuum cleaner. The top rated one on CR got terrible reviews on Amazon, with several mentioning that they bought it because of CR's recommendation but were terribly disappointed. I ended up buying the vacuum recommended by the Wirecutter, which has been great so far.

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SanityCheck
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by SanityCheck » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:45 pm

What is interesting is to read the Consumer Reports online reports for a specific product (say a lawnmower) ; and then immediately read some of the CR "User Reviews" for the same product on their website ......quite a lot of "disconnects" where CR loves the item; and real buyers find endless problems with the same item !

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MN-Investor
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by MN-Investor » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:49 pm

I'm a long time subscriber to Consumer Reports, both paper and online. It easily fits into my budget.

That said, the more reviews and comments I can find online about what I'm thinking of buying, the better. I like Amazon, but I take it with a grain of salt. I like ConsumerSearch, especially since they point me to sites which contain more information. I like WireCutter, especially their reviews of electronics. I like America's Test Kitchen (I have a subscription to their family of websites) for their reviews of anything to do with cooking.

There's just a lot of competition nowadays for information. No one site does everything. And glowing reviews of a product does not guarantee that you won't get the one clunker.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by dratkinson » Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:10 pm

Didn't know CR was failing.



Was at the library recently researching new furnaces. CR mag index didn't list a publication date reviewing furnaces. Librarian suggested using their PC and my library account to access library's research databases. CR is one of the databases.

Long story short. CR's furnace review is one short page. Suggests a few brands to choose (the best fail 8% of the time) and a few brands to avoid (the worst fail 10% of the time). My translation: if the reliability difference between best/worst is 2%, then all furnace brands are effectively equal. If all furnaces are equal, then I don't need CR.

CR didn't discuss any of the newer furnace features (noise level, multi-speed motors, modulating burners, 80-96% fuel efficiency,...) I was expecting to learn about. So must research that elsewhere.

Came away with the impression that CR was not doing the job it previously claimed to do.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by tim1999 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:16 pm

drk wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:52 pm
I'm a Millennial and have never used Consumer Reports. The few times I would have, I ran into a paywall and went elsewhere. In the zeitgeist, it's like Reader's Digest or Life magazine.
I'm on the older end of your age group, I grew up with parents that subscribed to it like it was a Bible of consumerism, can't say I've read it since I browsed through it in high school in the bathroom at home. And yes, Readers' Digest, even my mom dumped her subscription to that. I doubt very few people under age 35 have even looked at these publications even once in their lives.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by squirm » Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:53 pm

Sometimes with reviews I'd like to know more about the other person. For example, if I'm looking for a tool, is it some dumb 15 year old writing a review about it or someone with 20 years of working with tools. That's one reason why I like youtube reviews, I can get a sense of who is doing the review and what type of knowledge they might have. I'm sure there's fake reviews but probably not nearly as much as Amazon review writers. Sometimes the comments section is useful, sometimes it's only trolls.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by 2015 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:06 pm

I tend to view life from the perspective of BD (Before Digital) and AD (After Digital). In this quite recent new era of AD, there is no money in pragmatism anymore. Human beings now have a degree of agency heretofore not present in history. Useful information has transformed from being closely held by gatekeepers (such as publications like Consumer Reports) to undergoing explosive dissemination digitally.

This is why there is no money in pragmatism anymore. If you want to know how to do something, or what the best ____ is, simply google it. Today and for the foreseeable future money is to be found in combining knowledge to produce results for customers, people, readers, etc. As I've pointed out previously, Bogleheads is a perfect example of newfound human agency in the form of crowd sourcing. It's now possible to access knowledge previously unavailable through the wisdom of crowds, wisdom that research has shown to be superior to any single source.

It's not surprising to me that older individuals are clinging to dinosaur media (of all sorts). A great deal of the world's population did not grow up in a time with this degree of agency as a result of an unprecedented access to information and power. In this new AD era, we are living in a time of unprecedented possibility. One can choose to take advantage of it or not.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by jalbert » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:31 pm

It's not surprising to me that older individuals are clinging to dinosaur media (of all sorts). A great deal of the world's population did not grow up in a time with this degree of agency as a result of an unprecedented access to information and power. In this new AD era, we are living in a time of unprecedented possibility. One can choose to take advantage of it or not.
I call this new AD era the “Age of Misinformation” given the high rate of inaccurate, misleading, or flat out dead wrong information published online.
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GoldStar
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by GoldStar » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:34 pm

I searched on Consumer Reports once on this forum and found many similar threads going back and forth like this one. It even started with the same assertions the OP made. This seems like one of those repeating topics.
I am now waiting for the next one debating the merits of AAA, AARP, and Amazon Prime membership.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by sunny_socal » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:59 am

CR is indeed useless nowadays.

Then again there are hardly any trustworthy 'reviews' online. Amazon is filled with obvious fake reviews and cross-posted references (ie. you think the comments are for your product but really they are for something else.) The best approach is to do a general search and read several reviews from different sites. Home Depot reviews seem fairly reliable.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by RudyS » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:33 am

Just got a notice that there is a class action case, and proposed settlement, for subscribers in Michigan relating to breach of privacy. Details available at crmagazinesettlement.com I verified that there is such a case. Ruppel v Consumers Union of United States Inc. My notice was in my spam filter; luckily I check it periodically.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by tomd37 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:48 am

I have had a continuous subscription to the CR print edition since the January 1965 issue. I also now subscribe to the online version for ease of access to information in older issues. While I don't like the current format implemented a couple of years ago, I still find the publication very useful. I especially like the yearly April Auto Issue and refer to it for lots of helpful info. The April 2018 issue had an article "Best New Cars for Seniors" that I find very helpful and true as I look for a new car for my 81 year-old self. I have found the five year subscription rate of $99 the best value.
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nisiprius
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by nisiprius » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:14 am

jalbert wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:31 pm
I call this new AD era the “Age of Misinformation” given the high rate of inaccurate, misleading, or flat out dead wrong information published online.
Indeed. I knew something had changed when I was talking to a language companion in Spain, who mentioned that she never read newspapers or watched TV news. I asked her how she gets her news and she said "Facebook."

Online reviews are hugely problematical, they are some of the worst. On principle I ignore all five-star and one-star reviews, start with the three-star reviews, and focus in specific statements about the product that you can't get from the product description.

The great mystery to me is that Wikipedia is highly reliable. A study in 2005 on science articles in Wikipedia found it to be about on a par with the Encyclopædia Britannica in accuracy and in number of "serious errors." I think Wikipedia has improved since then. Something about its rules and governance works well. I keep wondering if there is anything identifiable about it that could be applied to other online information sources. It's not obvious why it works. The odd thing is that much of its structure and governance was designed by Larry Sanger in its pre-Wiki days as peer-reviewed, authority-written Nupedia... and that Sanger's effort to found an improved Wikipedia, Citizendium, has gone nowhere. I think it's gone nowhere.

Quick reality check: Citizendium, ten years after founding, has no article in "index fund," no article on "Warren Buffett..." free-associating... no article on "Gutzon Borglum" (sculptor of Mount Rushmore), indeed no article on "Mount Rushmore." This is its entire article on Brasilia:
Brasília is the capital city of Brazil and is located in the Distrito Federal. It has a population of around 2,051,146 and an area of about 5.789,16 Km².
Nope, it's gone nowhere.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by Gnirk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:21 am

Consumer Reports has alway been my primary guide when making large purchases. I transitioned from their print edition to their online service. Call me crazy, but because I value their independence, I also donate $50 per year to them.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by 2015 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:09 am

jalbert wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:31 pm
It's not surprising to me that older individuals are clinging to dinosaur media (of all sorts). A great deal of the world's population did not grow up in a time with this degree of agency as a result of an unprecedented access to information and power. In this new AD era, we are living in a time of unprecedented possibility. One can choose to take advantage of it or not.
I call this new AD era the “Age of Misinformation” given the high rate of inaccurate, misleading, or flat out dead wrong information published online.
Not at all less so than in previous times. Much of the vaunted publications, papers, research, that has been and is "published" is later proven to be either false or based on faulty research. I highly recommend reading this book:

https://www.amazon.com/Wrong-us-Scienti ... he+experts

I agree there is much noise in the world, but it is incumbent on the individual to gain skill in distinguishing that noise from signal. Nasim Taleb and others have written extensively on this. If you are reading inaccurate, misleading or "flat out dead wrong information", you're looking in the wrong places. I also recommend reading The End of Power to get a sense of how power and agency have both concentrated and diverged in the new era we are living in.

I expect push back from individuals born in the previous BD era as it is in human nature to resist change, and older generations have resisted change throughout history. It is good to remember the source of all power lies in a change of thinking. If we do not change our inputs, our outputs will never change. It all depends on what a person wants out of life.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by jalbert » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:13 pm

If you are reading inaccurate, misleading or "flat out dead wrong information", you're looking in the wrong places.
Wouldn’t that be a circular observation?

It is a mistake to assume that people who still use print media or other BD solutions are doing so because they are resistant to change. I’ve been using email since 1982 and the internet since 1989. Browsing in a library or bookstore is a different experience than browsing online. I do both. If you limit yourself to online media you are not fully taking advantage of the full range of unprecedented possibility of today, as brick and mortar bookstores and libraries do still exist.
Last edited by jalbert on Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by yatesd » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:40 pm

dual wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:22 pm
I never had much use for CR. They consider themselves experts on everything from orange juice to computer flash drives to cars and trucks to house roofing and everything else where they assert their expertise. Whenever they review something where I have in-depth knowledge I do not agree with their criteria nor their conclusions. They show a strong and IMHO unwarranted bias against US made cars, shared by many here perhaps due to their influence, but I have owned first a Ford then a Chrysler for the last 30 years and had excellent service. Prior to that due to their influence I bought a Toyota and had poor reliability for example the infamous clicking starter motor failure. Anecdotal I acknowledge but their reviews and method of measuring reliability do not seem objective to me.
+1

I agree wholeheartedly. For me it was a combination of bias (personal, group think version of bias) and the lack of depth for most products. At first, I would think to myself...they are great for things that no one else researches. However, every time I made a personal investment of time to really research a product or had specific knowledge about a subject, they never focused on the same things I focused on.

One example: Garden Tractors...I wanted one to last for 20 years, they would focus on models that had nice features and decent reliability for 3 years. I looked at things like gauge of deck, frame, engine (commercial), transmission (cast iron), weight, fuel tank capacity, etc. So far my mower is doing great 18 years in...

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by abuss368 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:51 pm

jalbert wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:31 pm
I call this new AD era the “Age of Misinformation” given the high rate of inaccurate, misleading, or flat out dead wrong information published online.
Indeed. I would agree this is a risk and unfortunate part to our everyday online experiences.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by DanMahowny » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:55 pm

CR was fantastic back in the day. Today, they are irrelevant, at best.

I was a bit stubborn (perhaps stupid) and stuck with my CR subscription longer than I should have.

My uncle still has his subscription. He's older than dirt. Makes sense.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by jalbert » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:55 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. For me it was a combination of bias (personal, group think version of bias) and the lack of depth for most products.
I agree regarding their reviews of many new products. On the other hand, their reviews of used cars are very useful because the reliability data is based on actual track record not future projections. Some car models have excellent repair records, but are not badged with the brands that have low depreciation, and thus can be excellent values if purchased used.
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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by arf1410 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:14 pm

Began reading my parents CR as a teenager, and have subscribed on my own for 30+ years. My subscription renews later this year, and am debating on renewing... I miss the lack of DETAILED product reviews and specifications, for easy comparison of dimensions, features, etc... and frustrated, like others, with the online links that one must pay extra for... not sure what decision I'll make, but likely only a one year extension on subscription...

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by HerbsKid » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:45 pm

I would agree that the print magazine is less useful than it used to be. However, some consumer issues reporting, particularly on handling medical costs, is useful.

Their ratings for auto reliability are the most thorough and statistically rigorous out there, and aren't really duplicated by anybody else, so I am keeping my subscription.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:00 pm

I also agree that online reviews have taken over.

But you need to know how to read the online reviews.

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Re: Consumer Reports ?

Post by GmanJeff » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:57 am

[/quote]

I have been reading my parents' CR since I was about 13. I bought my own subscription after DW and I got married, over 50 years ago. And kept it till about 2 years ago. I finally left, for the following reasons:
- magazine now has many more "consumerism" articles than product reviews.
- Most product reviews sent me to the extra-cost on-line version for more detail and info on additional models.
[/quote]

I agree with these two points. The magazine seems to increasingly focus heavily on advocating for what it characterizes as as pro-consumer regulatory activity by the government, implicitly or explicitly exhorting subscribers to engage in corresponding political activity. I used to enjoy the magazine when it simply conducted reasonably in-depth product evaluations.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by 2015 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:53 pm

jalbert wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:13 pm
If you are reading inaccurate, misleading or "flat out dead wrong information", you're looking in the wrong places.
Wouldn’t that be a circular observation?

It is a mistake to assume that people who still use print media or other BD solutions are doing so because they are resistant to change. I’ve been using email since 1982 and the internet since 1989. Browsing in a library or bookstore is a different experience than browsing online. I do both. If you limit yourself to online media you are not fully taking advantage of the full range of unprecedented possibility of today, as brick and mortar bookstores and libraries do still exist.
You've missed the point, which is one should take advantage of all of it while taking great care in deciding which information source to access.

Resistance to change, OTOH, is closely linked with highly flawed human decision-making. I remain unconvinced that those born in the BD era can easily overcome this. Evolution has sped up in very recent decades, and evolution does not select for anything that is unable to evolve and adapt.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by RudyS » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:15 pm

I was born BD, and have little problem dealing with the new availability of information, AD. As proof - I'm here!

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by xb7 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:22 pm

Like Nisiprius and Dratkinson, I go to the 'databases' portion of my county library system to search for CR reviews.

Somewhat off track here, but FWIW more recently I've started to, well I guess you would say "subscribe" to a service called Texture. You pay $10 per month --- yes, another of those dreaded monthly expenses that FIRE aspirants eschew, and what you get is sort of Netflix for magazines. Something like 200 magazines in digital format, with quite a few back issues available for each, and Consumer Reports is included. Couple that with buying a 10" Amazon tablet on Prime day or other sale, optionally throw in a pair of drugstore reading glasses, and I find this to be a fine magazine-reading experience. I don't touch magazines in the doctor's office anymore, or the dentist's (who needs to pick up second-hand germs that way), and really ditto the local library. Nor do I want physical magazines cluttering up my house.

But when traveling, browsing through a variety of magazines works for me, it's something I can easily interrupt. I just took a train trip and had a good time with these going both directions. And sometimes at home it's nice to skim through magazines without the same sort of mental commitment that a novel can entail.

I just very recently signed up, however, so maybe I'm still in the honeymoon period and the thrill will wear off.

What I would really like would be if they carried "The Economist", but they don't. Fortune, Forbes, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Markets are all in there, however. Ditto I'd love to see Scientific American, but their only related magazine is "Popular Science". Still, a lot of content, and they do carry "Wired", which I enjoy.

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Re: The Fall of Consumer Reports

Post by tydas » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:11 am

For me, CR is just one resource when I make a large purchase and the articles (buying guides) they write seem more valuable than the ratings. Nowadays I go to wirecutter first and then look at CR, Amazon reviews (using Fakespot) and then youtube for video reviews. I still think CR is valuable, especially with cars and appliances.

CR was never good in some categories, like electronics and computers, for that, i relied on a lot of reading on forums like AVS Forum or Anandtech. I do suspect that CR liberal stances on certain issues has pissed off a lot of their readers but they are still a valuable resource. The car reliability ratings are extremely valuable IMO.

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