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Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine

On my weekly radio show, I recently interviewed Liam McCormack, the head of testing for Consumer Reports (CR)—a resource and monthly magazine with seven million print and online subscribers. It has always been a wonder to me why seventymillion people don’t take advantage of this honest, non-profit testing organization that gives you the lowdown on just about every kind of consumer product—and some services—that you buy regularly.

Year after year, month after month, Consumer Reports proves its worth to consumers through money saved, aggravation avoided and safety advanced. Founded in 1936, this venerable organization takes no advertising and is as incorruptible as  any organization can possibly be.

Here are just a few examples of naming names and suggesting better purchases:

–“AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon cost an average of $960 a year. We’ll tell you about the carrier that provides better voice quality and costs $360 a year. You can save $600 a year.”

–Comparing price, selection and service of more than 20 chain retailers, consumer satisfaction scored Costco higher than Walmart.

–You’ve heard the Geico insurance ads—“15 minutes” saving you “15 percent.” CR advises you compare insurance companies every two or three years, adding, “After 20 years with Geico, one of our readers switched to highly-rated Amica insurance companies and saved $793 on her coverage.”

–The most expensive brands, whether cars or mattresses, are not often the best buy, whether it is a Mercedes-Benz car or an Apple computer, or a Serta mattress. CR’s own testing results often show other brands—including lesser known ones, are a better deal for a variety of reasons—including price and performance.

To show how much you can save and how you pay for rewarding name-brand advertisers, Consumer Reports tested the “Serta Comfort Smart Support HB300Q,” which costs $2,275, and “had unimpressive back support.” By contrast, the “Denver Mattress Doctor’s Choice” received a CR top-rating with “very good back support” and is priced at $500!

CR’s food testing and advice can save your family hundreds of dollars a year while protecting your health and saving you additional health care expenses.

One of the magazine’s innovations was their Annual Auto Issue. Let’s say you’re thinking about buying a car or selling a car. You’ll receive “detailed ratings, reliability, recommendations, photos and base price ranges for 240+ recently tested cars and trucks.”

CR doesn’t shy away from controversy. It writes that doctors recommending CT scans include many physicians who “underestimate the risk of CT scans,” whose substantial radiation can “increase your risk of cancer.” “Always ask your doctor why the scan is being ordered and if your problem could be managed without it,” urges CR. As with other cautions, CR backs such statements up with hard evidence in its magazine.

With various offerings, the subscription is $30 a year and you should receive the famous CR’s Buying Guide and another book titled, Should I Eat This? which you will find very nutritious.

As someone who has received thousands of complaints from consumers over the years, pardon me if I continue to wonder why so many consumers continue to act against their own perceived self-interests.

If you’re already a CR subscriber and you want to get the attention of friends whom you think can benefit from its comparative ratings and other advice, try a little reverse psychology: to wit, I submit the following:

10 Ways to Shaft Yourself as a Consumer

Buy before you think

Buy before you read

Buy before you ask questions

Buy before you can afford to buy

Buy before you see through the seller’s smile and smooth tongue

Buy before you comparison shop

Buy when you are tired or hungry

Buy when you are rushed

Buy to dote on your child or because your child demands the product

Buy just to keep up with your friends or neighbors

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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