This monthly letter to subscribers from Consumer Reports President Jim Guest highlights the critical consumer issues behind our current reports. See archived letters.
Quick: When you hear “the nation’s leading consumer review magazine,” what pops into your head? Exactly. We’ve been publishing for 75 years and have millions of readers, so that phrase all but defines Consumer Reports.
In those 75 years, we’ve never granted permission to use our name (explicitly or by implication) or Ratings in advertising. We rate products and services solely for the benefit of consumers, not so that sellers can tout our findings to boost sales.
That “no commercial use” policy is important because opening the door for advertisers to cherry-pick snippets of our reports robs consumers of the full story. Equally vital to us is that Consumer Reports is recognized as independent. Unlike some other companies that rate products and services, we aren’t paid for positive ratings and don’t promote the interests of any company over another.
Two companies recently bumped up against our policy. Diet plan Jenny Craig ran a TV spot touting its top ranking in “the nation’s leading consumer review magazine.” We explained our stance to the company (and also pointed out that the ad omitted the article’s less-favorable opinion of the plan’s food). To its credit, it agreed not to extend that ad campaign.
The maker of Finish Quantum dishwasher detergent wasn’t as responsive after it claimed in a promotion that its product was “Rated #1 by a Leading Consumer Publication.” We did top-rate one of its pictured products, but the photo also included one that ranked eighth. The company maintained that it “did not use the Consumer Reports name” and violated no policy. We believe the ad could have misled consumers.
Our policy ensures that we remain among the most trusted organizations. Violators erode that trust, and in the end, consumers lose. Violations of the “No Commercial Use Policy” can be reported at www.Consumerreports.org.