Business & Finance
Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports July 2017

Ratings, recommendations, reliability reports, safety and price comparisons from the world’s largest consumer testing center. Helps consumers make better choices for everything from cars to cell phone service. The only magazine of its kind: Expert, independent, nonprofit. 100% unbiased. Consumer Reports accepts no outside advertising.

United States
Consumer Union
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$7.01(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
when hidden algorithms lead to higher prices

WE LIVE in an age when prices for an ever-growing list of products and services are set by plugging personal information about ourselves into complex algorithms. For example, health insurance costs ¡uctuate with our age, and airline tickets can get pricier based on our browsing history. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with customizing costs based on factors that are truly relevant, data-driven pricing is a rapidly expanding part of our lives that o.ers little transparency—and one that can often carry hidden biases. In the past, CR investigations into the car insurance industry turned up evidence that insurers frequently set rates based on pieces of personal information that have nothing to do with driving risk— including credit scores and occupations. This month we’re publishing the results of a new investigation, conducted…

4 min.
building a better world, together

More Safety at the Wheel WHAT’S AT STAKE Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, technolo_y allows cars to communicate with each other wirelessly, an advancement that has the potential to boost automotive safety signi_cantly. It gives them the ability to broadcast a stream of information including speed, location, and braking. The goal is to help avoid accidents. (See our April 2017 magazine feature, “Driving Into the Future,” also at CR.org/selfdrivingcars.) Federal safety regulators recently proposed that all new cars be equipped with V2V capabilities. Our auto engineers and consumer advocates have since filed comments with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the government to move forward on a mandatory standard. But that standard needs to allow for continued innovation and enhancement of the safety system. CR is also asking for consumer protections for the privacy…

7 min.
your feedback

WRITE Go to CR.org/lettertoeditor to share your comments for WRITE publication. The High Cost of For-Profit Air Ambulances The average air-ambulance bill exceeds $30,000, most of which is often not covered by insurance. Our May article “Taking Patients for a Ride” reported on the financial impact these surprise bills have on patients, as well as the questionable use of emergency air transport and the lack of industry oversight. Join the conversation at CR.org/airambulances0717. I’VE WORKED in the EMS field for many years, both at the state level and as a local provider. Your article on the for-profit air-ambulance industry brings out the uglier side of some emergency air transports. When I’ve had to make the difficult decision to call a helicopter to transport a patient, I’ve also thought of the financial liability that their…

7 min.
don’t get burned!

HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD REAPPLY SUNSCREEN HOW OFTEN PEOPLE USUALLY WAIT TO REAPPLY IT IF YOU THINK all sunscreens touting high SPFs—like those with 50s on their labels, for example—are equally effective, here’s a surprise: Consumer Reports has found that those SPF numbers aren’t always a reliable measure of how much protection you’ll get. If you put too much faith in them, you could be putting your skin at risk. SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the chief cause of sunburn and a contributor to cancer. For the fifth year in a row, CR’s testing has shown that some sunscreens fail to provide the level of protection promised on the package. Of the 58 lotions, sprays, and sticks…

1 min.
think twice about ‘naturals’

IN PAST YEARS, we’ve had disappointing results when testing “natural” sunscreens (also called mineral sunscreens), those with only titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (or both) as UV filters. We haven’t been able to find a mineral product that delivers the whole package: top-notch UVA and UVB protection as well as minimal variation from SPF. This year we added more mineral sunscreens to our tests and included products with higher concentrations of the active ingredients than we did before. According to the Personal Care Products Council, there’s no performance difference between chemical and mineral active ingredients. But CR’s testing has found that sunscreens with chemical active ingredients tend to protect skin better. Of the 13 mineral sunscreens in our tests, just one received an Excellent rating for variation from SPF. Eleven received…

1 min.
4 steps to sunscreen success

1. SHAKE IT. The directions may not tell you to do this, but it’s a good idea because it helps distribute the active ingredients throughout the sunscreen. 2. TIME IT. Apply 15 to 30 minutes before going outside to give the sunscreen time to start working. If you wait until you’re in the sun, you could accumulate skin damage in those first 15 minutes, especially if you are fair skinned. 3. APPLY ENOUGH, CORRECTLY. Most consumers use less than half the amount of sunscreen they should. When you apply half the sunscreen, you get half the SPF protection, so an SPF 50 automatically becomes an SPF 25. If you happened to use a product that doesn’t deliver the SPF on the label, and you don’t apply it correctly, you could end up getting very little…