There are several leading consumer magazines and websites in the United States that many Americans rely on. I would go so far as to say many Americans hang on their every word. One of the most popular for years has been Consumer Reports.
Their publication shows you the #1 appliance or the #1 vehicle to buy. They claim to do extensive research on these products so you can gain from their insight and expertise. I honestly could not tell you how much research they actually do or how they conduct their reviews. In this article, I am going to give an account of how they rated two identical products and showed favoritism to one because the manufacturer paid to use the Consumer Reports name on their hang tag. Follow the money.
Back in the early 2000s I worked at a big box store that sold everything from lawn mowers to lumber. I worked in the lawn and garden department as an associate. My main area to assist customers was the inside lawn and garden area where the mowers, bbq pits, and cleaning items were located.
I will never forget one specific year when Consumer Reports rated the John Deere gasoline handheld blower #1. We had people flooding in on a Saturday asking for this particular model. Many of these homeowners had just received their new magazine in the mail and all saw the same list. Customers were laser focused on buying this particular brand and model of blower because they trusted what they were reading.
The funniest part was that John Deere did not manufacturer handheld outdoor power equipment. Their gasoline blower was manufactured by Echo which is a Japanese company that had headquarters in Illinois. The same model in the Echo brand was sitting two spots down on the same shelf. No one was buying the Echo.
In the same Consumer Reports list that showed the John Deere blower rated #1, was the same Echo model somewhere around spot #8-10. I can’t remember exactly where it was rated, but it was at the bottom of the list. Knowing these two units were the same model with different paint schemes, I had to ask the Echo representative why there was such a drastic difference in ratings.
Both blowers had the same specs. They both blew air at the same MPH and had the same CFM’s. All the ergonomics, switches, balance, and weight were the same. They were identical in looks. If you put the two units side by side, they were the same unit. They were painted two different colors, and they had different manufacturers names on them. That’s it.
The next time the Echo representative came into the store, I posed the question. How could one blower be rated at the top of the list while the other is at the bottom? They are the same unit. He responded, “Oh young grasshopper, you have so much to learn”. I responded “Teach me Master Splinter”. That is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference in case you didn’t know. I know, I’m aging myself. 🥷
You Have to Pay to Play
When you walked up to where the blowers were displayed, the John Deere model that was rated #1 had a tag hanging from it that read “Rated #1 by Consumer Reports”. Now, that tag does not come free, explained the Echo rep. The manufacturer has to pay Consumer Reports to be able to use their name on a hanging tag or on their box. Nothing is free.
This is the reason you may see the same blower in a different brand with a tag that says “Rated #1 by a Leading Consumer Magazine”. Everyone knows who the leading consumer magazine is, but that manufacturer can’t actually use the name of the publication because they never paid for the rights. Plus, like in this case, they most likely won’t be rated #1 because they chose not to pay to use their name. I guess Echo didn’t care as they were selling blowers either way since they manufactured the John Deere unit.
Be Careful Who You Trust
The next time you go shopping for something, be careful who you trust. This is just one example, many years ago that I have never forgotten. Today with the internet being as strong as it is, there is mass deception everywhere. Many of these product review publications now have websites, and they want you to click their links, so they make a commission.
That is completely understandable as they should be able to make a profit. As long as they are promoting the actual best product for most people and not the one with the most kickbacks. This is why some websites do well and others don’t. People can smell BS a mile away.
The same goes for these health and diet websites online. You will never see them talk bad about certain food or pharmaceutical companies even though these companies are essentially poisoning our society with crappy food and drugs. Why, because they are major advertisers on their websites, and they pay the bills. Once again, follow the money.
Find an outlet you can trust and hold on for dear life. Honesty in reporting is hard to find today as the truth seems to be buried ten layers deep under sleazy and slimy tactics. It seems as if everything I know to be true is never on the first three pages of Google search results. Those spots seem to held for propaganda.
Follow the money trail every time and you will find the truth.