Monday, September 10, 2007

Wise Consuming: Check out the Basics - Consumer Reports!

Good to be online again, after surgery. Healing well!

Blogging gives me an opportunity to fine-tune questions and research issues related to wise consuming. I am not a PF blogger, looking to find the cheapest way to accomplish things. I come at the question of consuming from an environmental perspective (what is a ecologically responsible purchase) as well as from a place of abundance. Just because one can purchase something doesn't make it a good idea! And lately I seem to be focusing attention on customer service; as affluence increases, so do expectations of treatment. This has proven to be unrelated to reality, so I find myself ranting about it. Paying more does not necessarily provide better service.
How does one choose anything, given the vast consumer offerings of our planet? We have been loyal subscribers to Consumer Reports, for over 30 years. We consult it for the obvious - appliances - but enjoy reading about all kinds of other products that we consume in the course of normal life are included. The great value of this magazine and the institution behind it is that it is non-biased research.

In recent years, when I've been eager to switch to online Consumer Reports, it has annoyed me that being a paid subscriber does not entitle you to use the website. This has always struck me as bad customer service. In their most recent issue, they address this question themselves and explain that since their website carries no advertising, it needs to pay for itself. (There is a free Consumer Reports Green Report available online, which provides helpful information.)
When it is time to renew our subscription, I think I will switch to the online. Receiving both is duplicative, though I do prefer to read magazines in hard copy. Just depends on how much you want to actually READ the mag verses use their site whenever you want online. If you're starting out, I would say subscribe to online access. The website has extensive, reliable information in addition to their ratings.

This was a nice case where the company stated the problem (it feels like a rip off to be charged for both hard copy and online access) and the explanation (running the website costs money which cannot be recouped by the usual advertising), and I am quite satisfied. Good job, CR!


Anonymous said...

Great to have you back!

I find that the standard rule in journalism disappointingly also applies to CR: the more I know about a subject, the less accurate are journalistic reports about that subject.

Not being biased and not having advertising doesn't mean that CR doesn't need to succumb to simplifications and generalities.

So for things like cars, cameras, and computers -- I believe you can get far better information from the best-in-class websites relating to each one of those topic areas.

For things like washing machines where there aren't established passionate user groups - I think CR still is a great resource - if you can only find the washing machine they actually called a best buy!

I appreciate the approach to purchasing which isn't just driven on price.

Again, glad to see you writing again.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Your absence was noted!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever checked out Ripoff Report?