IMPACT REPORT

Trust in the Era of Misinformation

With the growing concerns about misinformation and mistrust in our society, Consumer Reports is dedicated to ensuring you have the facts and evidence we need for a fair and just marketplace.

 

CR’s annual report for fiscal year 2020 is an opportunity to share with you, our members, how our partnership has made the marketplace safer and fairer in the past year. The video above and the numbers below help tell the story of your impact. Every purchase you make, every insight you share, every action you take to raise your voice - it adds up to consumer power.

 

The foundation of CR’s work is trust. It is data, research, and science that show us how to navigate a pandemic, keep harmful products out of our homes, and keep contaminants out of our food and water. It is your stories combined with expert analysis that helped us advocate for loan forbearance and credit card relief as the economy shrank under the pressures of COVID-19. And it is data modeling that illustrated how fuel-efficient cars save consumers money.

With your voices and our trusted information, we will keep working for the rights of every consumer, and a fair and just marketplace for us all.

 

 

 

CONSUMER POWER
BY THE NUMBERS

The past fiscal year was one marked by triumph and tragedy, challenges and innovation. CR met these challenges head-on to provide millions of people the trusted information they need to stay safe, stay informed, shop smart, and help their families and communities during these unprecedented times.

Number of unique visitors to CR’s online stories about COVID-19

The number of visits to the CR story Common Household Products that Can Destroy Novel Coronavirus, CR’s most-visited online story ever.

RAISING CONSUMER VOICES

The number of signatures and emails that CR members and activists sent to policymakers and company CEOs to advocate for reforms like safer water, greater access to broadband internet service, and help for Americans impacted by COVID-19.

Airlines:
Refunds, Not Vouchers

Coronavirus:
Protect People from Financial Hardship

Internet Access:
The Health of the Nation Depends on it

STOPPING HIDDEN FEES

That’s how much cable, satellite, and other pay TV companies were estimated to be charging in extra fees on customers' bills, according to a CR analysis of real bills we collected from people across the country. CR took our report to Congress, testified before the Senate, and scored a victory: Lawmakers passed and the President signed a new law to require pay TV companies to tell you the actual amount you will pay before you’re locked into a contract, with no surprise fees popping up later in your bills. The CR-backed law goes into effect in December.

PROTECTING OUR PRIVACY

That’s the average number of daily meeting participants on Zoom, which has seen its popularity skyrocket during the pandemic. CR investigated the video conference service and found potential problems with its privacy practices.

“After receiving a damning review in Consumer Reports, Zoom rewrote parts of its privacy policy. Zoom’s original policy allowed the company to collect information from users’ meetings—from videos to transcripts to the notes that users might share through Zoom’s chat feature—and use that information for ad targeting.”
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Columbia Journalism Review

RAISING THE STANDARDS FOR SAFETY

About every 20 minutes in the U.S., a piece of furniture, appliance, or TV tips over and injures someone. Since 2000, at least 210 people—mostly children ages 6 and younger—have been killed when dressers and other furniture that store clothes have tipped over. CR is working with the parents of child victims to educate people about the deadly dangers of furniture tipovers and advocate for safer furniture.

In New York state, CR worked with families to help pass a law to raise the bar for furniture safety and require retailers to sell tip restraint devices, like wall anchors, for certain furniture. It’s called Harper’s Law, named for a three-year girl who died tragically in a tipover incident. In Washington, D.C., a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are now supporting a CR-endorsed bill called the STURDY Act to create a national safety standard for dresser stability, and we are pushing to get this national bill passed and signed into law.

HOLDING COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE

The number of robocalls that hit Americans in 2019, an increase of 22% from the 47.8 billion received in 2018, according to YouMail, a company that provides a service to block such messages. CR rallied hundreds of thousands of people to write to their phone companies, the FCC, and members of Congress to demand action to stop the nonstop barrage of unwanted, harassing — sometimes criminal — calls that inundate us day and night. With the help of CR, Congress passed a national law to help identify and curb some of these calls, and we continue to work with the government and industry to crack down on this persistent problem.


When the Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine for privacy failures, the government highlighted the work of Consumer Reports and our investigation into problems with Facebook’s facial recognition settings as one of the major examples of the company’s privacy lapses. In September, Facebook updated the settings to address the problems identified by CR.

WORKING FOR SAFER FOOD

 

The national limit on inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal, under new guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, eight years after CR called attention to the dangerous presence of arsenic in these products. CR praised the FDA for taking this action, and we continue to push for limits on arsenic in other rice-based products, and limits on heavy metals in baby food.

 

CHAMPIONING LOWER FUEL COSTS, CLEANER AIR

CR’s estimated cost for U.S. consumers under the federal government’s controversial rollback of fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks. CR analyzed the impact of the government’s decision to weaken these standards for gas mileage and emissions.

CR found that the rollback would increase fuel costs per average new vehicle by $3,200, increase net costs per average new vehicle by $2,100, and cost all American consumers a total of $300 billion in net losses. The rollback is being challenged in court, and CR is urging automakers to support the original standards to help consumers save money and help reduce pollution.

HELPING SAVE LIVES

The number of infant inclined sleepers that have been recalled following CR's investigation into child deaths linked to products like the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper. Major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, Buy Buy Baby, eBay, Kmart, and Sears, made commitments to ban infant inclined sleepers and put safeguards in place to prevent them from being listed or sold.

DEMANDING CONSUMER REFUNDS

The amount of money that a U.S. Senate report estimates that airlines could be holding in traveler funds by denying ticket refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic. CR delivered hundreds of thousands of petition signatures to airlines to urge them to provide refunds to consumers unable to fly because of the pandemic. We are hosting webinars to help people contact their airlines and ask for their money back. CR discovered that airlines were not only denying refunds for passengers who chose not to fly; the airlines were making it harder for people to get refunds for flights cancelled by the airlines, which are required by law. The U.S. Department of Transportation has seen a spike in consumer complaints about airline refunds, many of them from CR members, and we are pressing the agency to take action so passengers get the refunds they deserve.