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消费者报告(Consumer Reports)

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      《消费者报告》由美国消费者联盟(Consumers Union)主办出版。作为一个独立的非盈利组织,美国消费者联盟以向消费者提供涵盖产品、服务、个人理财、健康和营养等领域的中立信息为宗旨。从成立至今,这份杂志从未登过广告,也不看任何企业的脸色行事,只把对消费品的评估报告的信誉放在第一位。《消费者报告》杂志拥有390万订户,网站拥有330万付费用户,2004年以来已经增长了33%。而《华尔街日报》网站收费内容的订阅人数仅是它的1/3。更令人惊叹的是,虽然某些公司的产品一旦被《消费者报告》批评,就会立马控告该杂志犯有诽谤罪,但是它从未输过或私下了结过任何一桩官司。

消费者报告封面消费者报告封面

 

  《消费者报告》的国家测试与研究中心位于美国纽约州的杨克斯市,建造目的为“科学地折磨市面上可以买到的所有商品,并且根据表现给它们打分”。20年前,杂志的主要评测目标是跑步机。他们专门建造了一台机器,取名为约翰尼·沃克,意为“走路的约翰尼”。这个特殊的约翰尼是一个金属圆筒,形似大鼓,里面塞满了粗制生胶球。检测时,约翰尼就在跑步机的传送带上旋转,模仿一个77公斤的人在上面跑步时对传送带的冲击。一些跑步机在约翰尼连续几个小时坚持不懈的“跑步”之后,起火了。测试的结果被长篇累牍地发表在《消费者报告》上,为跑步机的制造商得到了罕见的最糟糕的评分。

  过去6个月里,这本已经有74年历史的杂志挑战了几个世界上最受消费者信赖的品牌。4月,杂志对丰田雷克萨斯2010年的GX460 SUV进行了测试,并给这款车型打上了“请勿购买:有安全隐患”的标签。测试结果出来后,丰田公司召回了这款车型,并升级了SUV的软件系统,杂志重新对这款GX 460进行了测试,并把“请勿购买”从该车型的评级中去除。

  美国消费者联盟成立于1936年的大萧条时期,创立的初衷是想让美国的企业停止天花乱坠的产品宣传方式。有意思的是,由于当时创办杂志的资金少得可怜,他们只能拿最便宜的商品做检测,例如早餐的燕麦片和泡腾片。当时,消费者联盟也并不受舆论“待见”。《读者文摘》给它打上了“危险的异端分子”的标签,称创立者们一心想挑战大企业的诚信,“如果他们不是想毁灭经济体系,至少也想给它抹黑。”

  即便如此,杂志的订阅量却在稳步增长,它的内容也开始影响美国的消费者文化。1950年代早期,《消费者报告》制造了一台吸烟机,可以把吸烟者吸入物的剩余吸进一个烧瓶里。1953年,杂志报告说,吸烟者抽带过滤嘴的香烟所吸入的尼古丁量和抽无过滤嘴的香烟所吸入的尼古丁量是大致一样的。1964年,美国卫生局局长的顾问委员会在一份里程碑式的警告吸烟危害的报告中援引了《消费者报告》的研究。

  随着时间的推移,《消费者报告》开始紧跟市场上的新品,并把测试结果公布在网站上。过去7年,《消费者报告》网站的注册人数增加了3倍。但盈利的背后也隐藏着问题,例如消费者联盟决定和其他网站合作,提供他们评级过的产品的链接,以方便其他网站的顾客购买,消费者的用户体验也被放在了专业评测结果的旁边。这让一些人一度担心会降低杂志评分的科学性和公正性,不过《消费者报告》却并没有因此受到影响。

Consumer Reports is an American magazine published monthly by Consumers Union. It publishes reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based on reporting and results from its in-house testing laboratory. It also publishes cleaning and general buying guides. It has approximately 7.3 million subscribers and an annual testing budget of approximately US$21 million. The annual Consumer Reports new car issue, released every April, is typically the magazine's best-selling issue and is thought to influence millions of automobile purchases.

目录

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Objectivity 编辑本段回目录

Consumer Reports does not print outside advertising, accept free product samples, or permit the commercial use of its reviews for selling products. Its publisher states that this policy allows the magazine to "maintain our independence and impartiality... [so that] CU has no agenda other than the interests of consumers."

Consumer Reports states that all tested products are purchased at retail prices by its staff, that no free samples are accepted from manufacturers, and that this avoids the possibility of bias from bribery or from being given "better than average" samples.

Ancillary publications 编辑本段回目录

ConsumerReports.org, the related website, claims more paid subscribers than any other publication-based website.[citation needed] Most of its information is available only to paid subscribers.

ConsumerReports.org provides updates on product availability, and adds new products to previously published test results. In addition, the online data includes coverage that is not published in the magazine; for example, vehicle reliability (frequency of repair) tables online extend over the full 10 model years reported in the Annual Questionnaires, whereas the magazine has only a six-year history of each model.

Magazine copies distributed in Canada include a small four-page supplement called "Canada Extra," explaining how the magazine's findings apply to that country and lists the examined items available there.

In 2002, Consumers Union launched the grant-funded project Consumer Reports WebWatch, which aims to improve the credibility of Web sites through investigative reporting, publicizing best-practices standards, and publishing a list of sites that comply with the standards. WebWatch has worked with the Stanford Web Credibility Project, Harvard University's Berkman Center, The Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, and others. WebWatch is a member of ICANN, the W3C and the Internet Society. Its content is free. As of July 31, 2009, WebWatch has been shut down, though the site is still available.

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is available free on Consumer Reports Health.org. It compares prescription drugs in over 20 major categories, such as heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes, and gives comparative ratings of effectiveness and costs, in reports and tables, in web pages and PDF documents, in summary and detailed form.

Also in 2005 Consumers Union launched the service Greener Choices, which is meant to "inform, engage, and empower consumers about environmentally-friendly products and practices." It contains information about conservation, electronics recycling and conservation with the goal or providing an "accessible, reliable, and practical source of information on buying “greener” products that have minimal environmental impact and meet personal needs."

From 1980 up until sometime in the late 1990s, Consumers Union published a kids' version of Consumer Reports called Penny Power, later changed to Zillions. This publication was similar to Consumer Reports but served a younger audience. It gave children financial advice for budgeting their allowances and saving for a big purchase, reviewed kid-oriented consumer products (e.g., toys, clothes, electronics, food, videogames, etc.), and generally promoted smart consumerism in kids and teens; testing of products came from kids of the age range a product was targeted toward.

Product after Consumer Reports tests编辑本段回目录

In the July 1978 issue, Consumer Reports rated the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon automobile "not acceptable", the first car it had judged such since the AMC Ambassador in 1968. In its testing they found the possibility of these models developing an oscillatory yaw as a result of a sudden violent input to the steering; the manufacturer claimed that "Some do, some don't" show this behavior, but it has no "validity in the real world of driving". Nevertheless, the next year, these models included a lighter weight steering wheel rim and a steering damper; Consumer Reports reported that the previous instability was no longer present.

In a 2003 issue of CR, the magazine tested the Nissan Murano crossover utility vehicle. Consumer Reports did not recommend the vehicle because of a problem with its power steering, even though the vehicle had above-average reliability. The specific problem was that the steering would stiffen substantially on hard turning. Consumer Reports recommended the 2005 model, which addressed this problem. 

Lawsuits against Consumers Union 编辑本段回目录

Consumers Union has been sued several times by companies unhappy with reviews of their products in Consumer Reports. Consumers Union has fought these cases vigorously.

Bose

In 1981 Bose Corporation sued Consumer Reports (CR) magazine for libel after CR reported in a review that the sound from the system that they reviewed "tended to wander about the room". The case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court, which affirmed in Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc. a lower court's finding that CR's statement was made without actual malice, which was the standard in cases where the First Amendment was involved; and therefore was not libelous.

Suzuki

Main article: Suzuki Samurai v Consumers Union
In 1988, Consumer Reports announced during a press conference that the Suzuki Samurai had demonstrated a tendency to roll and deemed it "not acceptable." Suzuki sued in 1996 after the Samurai was again mentioned in a CR anniversary issue. In July 2004, after eight years in court, the suit was settled and dismissed with no money changing hands nor a retraction issued, but Consumers Union did agree no longer to refer to the 16-year-old test results of the 1988 Samurai in its advertising or promotional materials. and also released a statement that said its published description of the Samurai's performance "was limited to the severe turns" in its test, and "may have been misconstrued and misunderstood." Suzuki also retreated from earlier accusations, recognizing "C.U.'s stated commitment for objective and unbiased testing and reporting".

Rivera Isuzu 编辑本段回目录

In December 1997, the Isuzu Trooper distributor in Puerto Rico sued CU, alleging that it had lost sales as a result of CU's disparagement of the Trooper. A trial court granted CU's motion for summary judgment, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the favorable judgment, on the grounds that CU had mentioned only Isuzu and the Trooper, not the distributor specifically.

Sharper Image 编辑本段回目录

In 2003, Sharper Image sued CR in California for product disparagement, over negative reviews of its Ionic Breeze Quadra air purifier. CR moved for dismissal on October 31, 2003, and the case was dismissed in November 2004, on the grounds that the Sharper Image "has not shown that the test protocol used by Consumers Union was scientifically, or otherwise, invalid," and had not "demonstrated a reasonable probability that any of the challenged statements were false." The decision also awarded CU $525,000 in legal fees and costs.

Controversy over child safety seats编辑本段回目录

The February 2007 issue of Consumer Reports stated that only two of the child safety seats it tested for that issue passed the magazine's side impact tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which subsequently retested the seats, found that all those seats passed the corresponding NHTSA tests at the speeds described in the magazine report. The CR article reported that the tests simulated the effects of collisions at 38.5 mph. However, the tests that were completed in fact simulated collisions at 70 mph.[14] CR stated in a letter from its president Jim Guest to its subscribers that it would retest the seats. The magazine issue with erroneous findings has not been recalled, but the letter states that after the seats are retested, the results of that test will be published. The article was removed from the CR website, and on January 18, 2007 the organization posted a note on its home page about the misleading tests. Subscribers were also sent a postcard apologizing for the error.

On January 28, 2007, Joan Claybrook, who served on the board of CU from 1982 to 2006 (and was the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1977 to 1981), discussed the sequence of events leading to the publishing of the erroneous information. The magazine contracted with Calspan to do the actual testing; due to miscommunication, the tests were conducted (using test sleds) at an actual speed of 38 miles per hour. In fact, since automobiles in a crash continue to move after the crash—rather than absorbing all the energy of impact as a test sled does—a test sled impact of 38 miles per hour is considered equivalent to an automobile crash of 70 miles per hour; to replicate an automobile crash of 38 miles per hour, as was intended, the test sled crash should have been carried out at 20 miles per hour.

Claybrook admitted that the magazine should have been motivated to double-check the surprising results; however, she also pointed out that CR was attempting to execute what should have been NHTSA's work. "Consumer Reports does not conduct crash tests save for low-speed bumper-impact tests," she stated. "It has limited expertise in designing such [crash] tests." She further noted that in 2000 Congress had mandated NHTSA to define a set of tests and issue a set of safety standards for child restraints within two years, but that NHTSA still had not yet done so, "though it took less than ten days to evaluate Consumer Reports’ testing and find the error." [15]

Other errors or issues 编辑本段回目录

In 2006, Consumer Reports said six hybrid vehicles would probably not save owners money. The magazine later discovered that they had miscalculated depreciation, and released an update stating that four of the seven vehicles would save the buyer money if the vehicles were kept for five years (including the federal tax credit for hybrid vehicles, which expires after each manufacturer sells 60,000 hybrid vehicles). [16]

In February 1998, the magazine tested pet food and claimed that Iams dog food was nutritionally deficient. They later retracted the report claiming that there had been "a systemic error in the measurements of various minerals we tested – potassium, calcium and magnesium."

Graphs 编辑本段回目录

Consumer Reports graphs use a modified form of Harvey Balls for qualitative comparison;[18] indeed, the first 'o' in the logo is one of the ideograms used for ratings.

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