Business & Finance
Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports June 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

1 min.
we have your back in a digital world

THIS MONTH Consumer Reports is bringing you expert guidance on how to treat, manage, and avoid back pain—a serious problem that a.ects the lives of millions of Americans. But at CR our mission is about more than just equipping you to take on those challenges that you can palpably feel and see. In an era when so many of the most common products we use— from thermostats and baby monitors to televisions and cars—are internet-connected, a new breed of threats to your security, privacy, and well-being has emerged. These threats can take the form of newsworthy hacks and breaches. But more often than not they show up in subtler ways, such as when our personal data is collected and used to possibly charge us more for things like airline tickets…

8 min.
the road ahead

Readers’ comments about our content, in email & social media KUDOS FOR GETTING out front on this huge social-change issue around the safety, ethics, and legalities of self-piloting vehicles. However, I was surprised your assessment did not include the ever-increasing digital threat of hacking. It seems completely naive to me that we will gleefully run head€rst into this futuristic direction having lost sight of the latest corporate or systemic hack. —Alan Lekan, Boulder, CO IN “DRIVING INTO THE FUTURE” you write: “We don’t think humans should be used as test subjects.” I agree, but I’d go a step further: Privately owned cars shouldn’t be used as test vehicles by manufacturers without the owners’ consent. Speci€cally, once I’ve bought the car, it shouldn’t be reporting information back to its former owner without my permission.…

3 min.
building a better world, togetherw

A Winning Power Play IN A VICTORY for consumers in Florida, utility company Gulf Power recently agreed to rescind its proposal to raise fixed monthly charges from $18 to $48, a whopping 155 percent increase. In January, Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of CR, joined a diverse coalition of concerned stakeholders from across the political spectrum to call on the Florida Public Service Commission to reject Gulf Power’s proposal. We presented testimony and a petition signed by nearly 1,000 consumers opposing the increase. In the end, the pressure was too great for Gulf Power to move ahead with its unfair and unjustifiable plan. “The proposal would have taken away control from customers trying to save money by conserving energy, requiring them to pay nearly $50 up front every month even before they…

3 min.
vacuum packed

The latest ratings from our labs YOU BOUGHT A NEW VACUUM. DID YOU KEEP THE OLD ONE? THE IDEA that a single vacuum can pick up every mess has been relegated to the dustbin. Homes built today are more than 500 square feet larger than those built in the 1980s. That’s a lot of extra floor space to collect dirt, debris, dander, and the detritus of modern life. No wonder so many homeowners own more than one vacuum. In fact, 43 percent of consumers own two or three vacuums, according to the latest industry data. Yet despite this arsenal, Consumer Reports’ latest vacuum survey reveals that less than half of our readers are fully satisfied with how their cleaning machines perform. Part of the problem may be that they have the wrong tool…

1 min.
make it better

THOUGH WE HAVEN’T gone so far as to recommend hearing protection when you vacuum, most machines are so noisy that you can’t hear the phone or doorbell ring. We’ve heard from industry sources that consumers associate noise with power. But in our tests, we’ve found capable vacuums, like Miele’s, that get the job done at a lower volume. Vacuums can be made quieter by adding insulation and reducing motor vibration, but that may add to the cost. We’d like to challenge manufacturers to bring it down a notch.…

1 min.
what makes consumers fall in love

NORMALLY YOU WOULD expect consumer satisfaction with a vacuum brand to go down as breakage rates go up. But when more than 33,000 of our readers told us about their vacuums, that wasn’t always the case. Sure, they were happy with their Shark and Kirby uprights, which in our survey make the more reliable uprights. But when it came to Miele uprights, that logic didn’t track. Although the Mieles were more prone to breaking than several other brands of uprights, complete satisfaction rates soared to 65 percent, considerably higher than any other brand of upright. “We will never even consider another brand,” a typical owner of a Miele upright told us. We asked our survey team for an explanation. They found that Miele owners’ satisfaction seems to be far less affected even…