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How does Consumer Reports decide which windows to test?

I saw an ad for a product. Why didn't you test it?

Published: December 14, 2014 06:00 AM

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Q. In your window Ratings, you listed windows from at least 10 manufacturers. We get a lot of local advertising from Window World, which claims to be “America’s largest replacement window and remodeling company.” If it’s so large, why wasn’t it even mentioned in the magazine?­—Ken McGarvey, Loudon, TN

A.
The process of determining what to test takes into account a variety of factors, only one of which is a company’s advertising, says Mark Connelly, our senior director of product testing. We do consider a company’s market share, which is why, of the 25 windows we most recently tested, you saw several Ander­sens and Pellas among them. (It’s worth noting that Consumer Reports doesn’t accept paid advertising or free test samples—and is therefore not swayed by manufacturers.)

Our market analysts keep a lookout for promises companies make to consumers. In some categories, including cars and smart phones, we’re constantly testing. Others, such as windows, get our workout just once or twice per year.

Our team tracks what consumers across the U.S. are saying, especially our own subscribers. Last year, 127,887 of you wrote or called us with comments or questions about the products we test or should test. (To send in your suggestions, contact our customer service department at ConsumerReports.org/tips.) We also think hard about the real-world experience of consumers and purchase products just as you would. Which is how, to return to your question, we lost Window World.

“We actually wanted to test their windows,” says market analyst Mike DiLauro, “but when we sent a shopper to one of their locations to buy one, the company wouldn’t sell it unless they were the ones to install it. I called the company to try a workaround, but my voice mails were not returned.”

For more check our full window Ratings and recommendations and read "How To Choose Replacement Windows" and "When To Repair And When To Replace Your Windows."

Send your questions to ConsumerReports.org/askourexperts.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the January 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


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