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Behind Our Ratings

Our National Testing and Research Center, in Yonkers, N.Y., is the largest nonprofit educational and consumer product testing center in the world. Research and testing are pivotal components of the work of Consumer Reports.

Before a product even enters one of the dozens of labs at our Yonkers headquarters, it has been subjected to considerable research. We gather data about products and services, about consumer demand in the marketplace, and about what our subscribers plan to purchase. Editorial, technical, and research staff then scrutinize that material, along with suggestions from our subscribers, to develop our testing schedule.

After additional research to define a project's scope, staff shoppers—assisted by a network of shoppers in 65 U.S. cities—buy the products we use as test samples.

To supplement laboratory testing, the survey research department gathers the experiences that hundreds of thousands of our subscribers have had with products and services through an annual questionnaire. Those results are the basis of our well-known auto Frequency-of-Repair index and other product-reliability reports.

More than 100 testing experts work in seven major technical departments—appliances, auto test, baby & child, electronics, foods, health & family, and recreation & home improvement, while more than 25 research experts work in three departments—product acquisition, product information, and statistics & quality management. In addition, we have more than 150 anonymous shoppers throughout the country. (See how we test cars.)

State-of-the-art testing equipment is always used and is sometimes complemented by equipment designed by our engineers. The actual tests are based not only on government and industry standards but also on standards our specialists think should apply.

Consumer Reports has been testing products since 1936. Visit our online gallery to see a selection of vintage testing photographs from our archives.

How we test

Our National Testing and Research Center, in Yonkers, N.Y., is the largest nonprofit educational and consumer product testing center in the world. Research and testing are pivotal components of the work of Consumer Reports. Before a product even enters one of the dozens of labs at our Yonkers headquarters, it has been subjected to considerable research. We gather data about products and services, about consumer demand in the marketplace, and about what our subscribers plan to purchase. Editorial, technical, and research staff then scrutinize that material, along with suggestions from our subscribers, to develop our testing schedule.

How we survey

The Consumer Reports National Research Center is a research arm of Consumer Reports' National Testing and Research Center in Yonkers, N.Y. It comprises highly trained social scientists, using state-of-the art techniques to survey more than 1 million consumers each year for their feedback on a broad range of experiences with products, services, and health care.

Secret shoppers

If we need peas from Peoria, sauce from Sausalito, or condoms from Concord, we know who to call. Too bad we can't tell you. But you may unknowingly find yourself shopping next to one of our secret shoppers someday. It could be that woman buying the multiple tubes of toothpaste, looking for specific lot codes. Or that man checking the expiration dates on the yogurt. Or the college student looking for just the right blend of coffee and then buying several bags. Or those people might just be shoppers looking for a good deal. We'll never tell.