momali3

Relying on Consumer Reports

momali3
12 years ago

I've skimmed through many postings and notice that nearly everyone seems to be buying/hoping to buy the really high-end, pricey and currently "in" brands of appliances. I just re-read the Aug. 07 Consumer Reports and they state categorically about stand-alone ranges, for example, that "pro-style ranges can cost thousands and are often out-cooked by mainstream models; some brands have been repair-prone." They then recommend as "best buys" a very mainstrema Hotpoint at $550 and a Maytag for the same price. Other top-rated models are GE's and another Maytag.

As for separate gas cooktops, their top-rated brands are GE and Maytag, which range in price from $650 to $1,200. Their top two electric wall ovens are both GE's, costing $1,500 and $850. Because of what CS says, I would hesitate to buy a SubZero refrigerator, for example, nor would I buy a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher because they have an abysmal record in terms of needing more repairs. (My daughter has two of the drawer-types that are fairly new and I know she's had to have repairs done already at least twice.) Is there anyone else out there who relies on CS, who's buying less-trendy, mainstream appliances? If so, what have been your experiences? We are starting the process of building a new house and I would be most interested in knowing whether relying on CS (as I've done in the past) is a good idea. Or am I just totally out of it?

Comments (26)

  • rhome410
    12 years ago

    "pro-style ranges can cost thousands and are often out-cooked by mainstream models; some brands have been repair-prone." That's a pretty general statement, using vague words like "can" and "some", seemingly including brands and models they've never tested. That statement alone reduces their credibility to me. If higher output cooktops don't offer more than lower end gas cooktops, then why aren't professional cooks using something like Hotpoint, or choosing them for their home kitchens? Also, in our particular case, we needed more larger burners, which the mainstream brands don't offer.

    I read CR, but certainly don't rely on it exclusively, or even primarily. Many times when I've decided on a model they test, it's no longer available or I can't find it for whatever reason. That doesn't really help, since they might have one model of a brand rated at the top while another model of that brand is at the bottom...So you can't decide just based on brand. I actually started getting ready to build our new house by paying for an online subscription to CR, but was quickly disappointed in the limited models they had to tell me about. Here I find people who have used various type of appliances, and on a daily, real-world basis...Not just an hour or two in a test lab. Before the internet, we didn't have many resources for investigating our purchases, but now we, thankfully, have more options.

    After I'd been severely disappointed in the performance and maintenance costs of Frigidaire, Maytag, and JennAir appliances, especially, I wanted to find better for our new kitchen. We'd had good luck with GE, but GE didn't offere the more burners or the roomier convection oven we needed. Since CR was giving me the same old names, I did a search and have been so thankful to have found this forum, and have chosen different brands at differing price levels, based on what we needed in each appliance. Just because a company can make a range doesn't mean they make a good clothes washer, etc....High end or low end. Also, just because it has a 'mainstream' name doesn't mean it's less expensive than something with a 'high end' name.

    I just don't think it's as easy as trusting Consumer Reports and also think you might miss a fantastic option for your new kitchen if you only look at the brands they test.

    Best wishes on your build. I started my research about 3 to 4 years ago, we poured our foundation 18 months ago, and finally moved in last month. It was a long process, but I'm happy I put the work in to choosing the appliances I did, based on my own criteria, formed by my family's particular needs and the way we cook and bake. The time and effort has paid off, I think. I know it's only been a month, but we're happy with our choices so far.

  • cynic
    12 years ago

    I've found Consumer Reports to be a very biased and useless for the most part. You have to be very careful what you're reading and how you use it for it to be of any value. They set a "standard" of what they expect, not what the ordinary consumer would expect, and if it doesn't meet their standard it gets low marks and vilified.

    They do NOT test all brands. They pick a few. Then when they choose sibling appliances, for instance the Kenmore, Whirlpool and Maytag front load washers they come up with very different ratings when the units are virtually the same. Granted, 3 of the same unit off the same assembly line can vary in performance but they come up with different reliability ratings and more.

    And another example of the failure of Consumer Reports is the recommendation of the Maytags. Check Epinions and other sources for owner experience and you'll find that Maytag cooking units (pre-Whirlpool) are terrible in reliability.

    I will buy the lower priced, more conventional appliances. But I look at the specifications and get a variety of input. Consumer Reports has left a very bad taste in my mouth and gets no credibility from me.

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  • debbie_2008
    12 years ago

    I've found the best reviews come from searching this forum. Use the search box at the bottom and type in the item and mfgr. It saved me from buying a kitchenaid wall oven. Talk about bad news!

  • me262-ssd
    12 years ago

    c.r. is a hit and miss i sell appliances when someone is armed with c.r. material they tend to follow it like a bible. however, the models numbers are often discontinued.the yearly buying guide especially. ive seen appliances that have been recalled in there top ratings.repair techs are a good source for info."steer clear of the first year" i try not to sell appliances that dont have a good history a 30 year sears tech said that amana bottom freezers are one of the best so kitchen aid whirlpool jenn air maytag some kenmores and viking freestanding are of amana origin samsung has just recently copied it and ge profile put their name on the stainless steel has dents that appear just like a lucky goldstar aka lg model. techs dont like korean electronics if you go high end wolf subzero themador -kitchen aid makes some of their built in refer and add $3000 to say thermador who is owned by bosch fisher paychel owns dcs dcs make the gemonogram pro duel fuel range and jenn air pro range whirlpool has a gas cook top about $800 that is related to thermador $1600 it goes on and on... so to begin your appliance decision start with good frig a kitchen aid sxs counter depth or standard or jenn air bottom freezer looks great either pro handle or tube and format your kitchen dont get VIKINGized GOOD LUCK

  • Buehl
    12 years ago

    IMHO, CR tests from the point of view of the average consumer...not the type that would hang out here (or on Kitchens!). From what I can tell, they take into account overall cost, general functions, and general repair history. Yes, many of the pro appliances have more functions, better heat, etc. but for the average person it's overkill and for what they want too much $$$ for how they would use it...hence, a lower rating.

    I think that if you're the average consumer CR is fine; but for most of the TKO's and TAO's (Totally Appliance Obsessed!), the ratings would come out differently. We ARE interested in those bigger and better features and they're worth the $$$ to us.

    It's like computers...Bill Gates made a comment once that he was considering eliminating a lot of the customizable features in the Microsoft products b/c over 95% of their customers never change toolbars, options, etc. He stated that if you looked at over 95% of the consumer's computers, they would have all the factory-installed settings. I guess I just don't fit the "normal" mold anywhere...not only am I TKO/TAO but if you looked at MY computer, you'd be hard pressed to find a factory-installed setting anywhere! I customize everything to the hilt!


    What would be nice to see from CR is a rating system that ignores price and just compares features and reliability...that would be more helpful for everyone, regardless of TKO/TAO status! (BTW...I have found their reliability reports pretty accurate for the "mainstream" appliances that I've bought in the past.)

  • secsteve
    12 years ago

    I used to rely on Consumer Reports, but have found over the years that as Cynic said they tend to be biased towards certain brands.

    I had a friend who relied on their report when she purchased a new washing machine. Egad, she had nothing but problems from the get go and this was one of the "highly recommended" machines.

    Besides this forum I have also found that epinions is another good source.

  • guadalupe
    12 years ago

    You would be better off getting advice from this site. Consumer reports is still ok for general information and will give you a guide to some of the questions you should ask, but they have slanted views and seem to down grade higher end product in favor of stuff that Sears carries.

  • llaatt22
    12 years ago

    CR was more valuable in the past when the mass media and company advertising budgets almost completely controlled what information reached the marketplace. Their forte was finding value or problems in items mass produced for ordinary consumers such as poorly paid teachers, civil servants, accountants, etc. Going back to the beginning, their attitude towards the more attractive, more expensive,versions of basic products was often negative or dismissive.

  • alexamd
    12 years ago

    I have not had good luck with purchases that I have made based on CR ratings. As buehl said, maybe I don't fit the CR mold, but most of my CR rated purchases have been duds. 7 years ago, I purchased a dw based on CR's ratings. It was a highly rated Kenmore...it was a great disappointment. I had Sears come out, but they never found anything wrong. It never fully cleaned my dishes. It constantly left gunk deposited on my glasses. My new DW is a Miele. I purchased it based on reviews here and other research -- not based on CR and I love it! It has been a fabulous performer. Another example: I purchased two vaccuums based on CR ratings...maybe, I am hard on my vaccuums, but neither lasted more than 3 years. I repaired the first one once and then the second time I brought it in to fix and it was going to cost $190 to repair, so I bought a new one instead (again based on CR ratings) and that one has followed the same path. So, here I am in the market for a new one and I am not going to even look at CR. I think the information found on this forum is far more valuable than CR.

  • weissman
    12 years ago

    Actually, I really think CR is not biased to particular brands but the tests they set for the products are for the average consumer not for serious users. I consider them one source of input, not the final answer. This forum has good advice but even here, you'll get a lot of bashing of certain brands - and I admit to being guilty of that as well. Unhappy users tend to post more and be more vocal than happy users. I find this even more true of epinions where you tend to get mostly negative reviews. The best thing to do is get as much info as possible to make an informed decision - but even then, every brand will have its lemons.

  • afr66
    12 years ago

    I've had varying success with CR. My biggest beef is actually that it is hard to find a lot of the models they recommend (not just for appliances, but also for TVs and other electronics) as they are often out of date or unavailable. It is a good starting point but certainly not the be all and end all of rating systems. To me, they are actually best for Cars since they test a much wider array of models than they do for appliances (BMW/Porsche as well as Honda & toyota).
    A lot of folks on this site completely discount CR (partly, I think, because CR strongly implies that high end appliances are a waste of money), but I think it has some value. People need to take into account their own needs, budget, taste etc. as well as input from 3rd parties (CR or people here) to make a decision. People here have a great perspective on certain products from using them but are also biased (as we all are) based on their experiences (i.e. some love their XYZ products while others have had nothing but problems).

  • fandlil
    12 years ago

    I think someone who seriously considers high end kitchen appliances should not bother with CR. It may be a slight exaggeration, but would someone interested in a Rolls-Royce check with CR first?

    What you pay for with high end stuff is: STYLE, FASHION and, in most cases, very high performance or capacity. We consider ourselves serious cooks, but we feel the extra benefit we would gain from these high end products is small compared to the extra expense.

    Ours is a home kithen, not a restaurant kitchen, and we are not in the catering business. If you love to cook for a crowd and plan to do it often, or if you need specialized equipment not available in regular quality home appliances and have money to burn, then by all means go high end. But your meals will not taste any better than ours, and your kitchen will look more expensive than ours, but not necessarily more attractive

  • zoenipp
    12 years ago

    I'm a fan of Consumer Reports. I do believe that they make an earnest attempt to review and test household appliances for average homeowners and report those results (and reliability polling results) in their reports. However, they are not a good source to find information/reviews for upscale appliances. I came to Gardenweb as a result of a Google search looking for consumer reviews for upscale appliances because that's what we wanted for our new home. As for CR's conclusions, I do think it is erroneous to say you won't get better results with a professional-style cooktop. However, generally, I think they are pretty accurate with reviews for ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. On those items, I believe I'm paying for extra bells and whistles when I go upscale. Most people may not need those bells and whistles and CR provides information on the most economical, reliable, and well-performing appliances in a low to mid price range for the average consumer.

  • chefkev
    12 years ago

    I'm also a fan of consumer reports. I like what Weissman said. Actually, I liked almost all of the posts. Once or twice in my life as Techie many years ago, there were a couple of items CR reviewed that I really knew something about. I found that the more I knew, the less helpful CS was and the more inconsistencies I saw, but the sad fact is most of the time I know jack about some of the things I'm buying and I find the less that I know, the more help CR is about pointing out basic information and features. I definitely feel like CR helps me avoid some of the lemons and bad choices. This forum has been awesome for helping me fine tune what it is I wanted and needed and has also been a huge help in lemon avoidance (ditto debbie_2008 on avoiding that KitchenAid Architect wall oven)

    Cynic said "another example of the failure of Consumer Reports is the recommendation of the Maytags..you'll find that Maytag cooking units (pre-Whirlpool) are terrible in reliability"

    CR has a section separate from their ratings called "brand repair history" and Maytag has taken a beating there in almost everything I've shopped for recently. It prevented me from buying a Maytag oven before I knew about this Forum.

  • mccall
    12 years ago

    CR is okay for buying very basic mainline items that is ALL they really look at. Even then I have found they are often wrong compared to real world experience. I no longer waste my time or money reading CR.

  • rhome410
    12 years ago

    I wouldn't consider the appliances a lot of us here are interested in as comparable with a Rolls Royce or that most of the people who check in here are only interested in style and fashion...I certainly don't have money to burn. (And I bet even Rolls Royce owners might care that the car will run and last) But a Ford Fiesta won't fit my family or get it where we're going, and I don't want to keep paying for all the parts that fall off. I need the room and power of a workhorse vehicle with diesel engine with plenty of seating and durable styling in my kitchen. CR doesn't cover those, but seems to lump them as 'pro-style/high end' with an indication of disdain and no testing or specifics to back it up.

  • momali3
    12 years ago

    Thanks so much for all of this super input! You guys have definitely given me something--a lot--to think about. When I get to the point of actually choosing my appliances--we're just at the planning stage now--I will most definitely do what so many suggest, and that is check out the forums using the names of appliances I am considering. I DO have experience (because of my daughter's "high end" appliances) with certain brands, which I will steer away from. AND I do feel that CR's repair data is reliable. But other than that, I will dig deeper and do more research. Thanks a lot, all of you! Much, much to ponder over here!

  • dadoes
    12 years ago

    Back when I followed CR, I read the reviews and data just for comparison purposes and information about the market offerings. The only time I can recall buying their "Best Buy" item was a blood pressure monitor. I've only seriously considered their advice on a couple car purchases (a 1993 Mazda 626 and a 2001 Infiniti I30), never for appliances. The Mazda was great. The Infiniti, a bit less so.

    I have a double DishDrawer. It'll be five years old in August, never any trouble.

  • rhome410
    12 years ago

    I just have one more thing to say, since you mentioned your daughter's appliances. I have no experience with Fisher & Paykel dish drawers, but I wouldn't trade my F & P laundry equipment for ANY other (I had a set for several years in our last home and now am glad to have a new set of the same after dealing with Kenmore and Whirlpool in the place we lived while building)...and my F&P oven, although I've only been using it a month, seems super. I chose it after reading the glowing reviews here, including positive comments about the prompt and generous customer service people have received from F&P. I have a Wolf rangetop, but, like you, even if I could remotely afford them, would shy away from SubZero fridges, which come from the same company. Others love them, though. That's why you'll find that most here would recommend against choosing all your appliances from one manufacturer. It's rare that one can meet your wishes and criteria in every appliance.

    Again, best wishes...and we'll be here to answer your questions, happy to give our opinions and share our experiences.

  • nuccia
    12 years ago

    I've subscribed to CR for over 30 years and have always consulted it before almost every large and many small purchases. I think many people get into trouble because they make their decisions based solely on the ranking at the end of the articles. I have found that reading the entire article lets me know how the ratings were determined, and then it is up to me to determine the importance of that feature.

    Like the other comments, I have not found very many reviews of more upscale products, but that makes sense because there is a much smaller market.

    On the other hand, as a typical example, I have been surprised to discover that a detergent I've been using has slid down from the top of the ratings. Sure enough, when I try the new top product, it's better than what I've used. Detergent companies and others reformulate their products so frequently, it's hard to keep up with what's what.

  • livingthedream
    12 years ago

    Another CR fan here. They don't have a magical crystal ball, just engineering and user tests, so of course their "predictions" aren't absolute. But they are a way to stack the odds a bit more in the buyer's favor. Any model by any manufacturer can turn out to be a lemon. And, unless the underlying design is hopelessly flawed, any manufacturer can make an effective and reliable model. It's for the statistical in-betweens that CR helps, as well as the information their articles. And they list all the products they test, not just the ones they recommend, because they know that not everyone's needs will be met by their recommendations.

    For example, two weeks ago I realized that we needed to replace our dishwasher. I didn't have much time and it had been years since I had looked at what was on the market. Thanks to CR, it took all of five minutes to identify a couple of brands with models that come up high in their ratings that also had a lower frequency of repair (I don't have time to deal with repairs either) and to identify the latest features. Then it took only a few minutes at the store to pick a model. It was not a "Best Buy" because I was willing to pay more to get certain features but it was another model which ranked high.

    My new DW installed, running well, and I'm pleased. Is it possible somewhere there'is a better model for my purposes? Of course, but how much better would it be? Meanwhile, I saved a lot of time, and was able to get the new one before the old one stopped working.

    CR is supported by subscribers, so they test products of interest to the majority. Personally, I have no need for tests of commercial spaghetti sauces, for one, but since lots of people use them I don't fault CR for testing them. They usually test a few upscale products, if only to report on whether the higher price is justified objectively.

  • guadalupe
    12 years ago

    My biggest problem with CR is this, Kenmore manufactures nothing, they buy a GE or LG or whatever, CR test the unit a claims it to be the best. The same product with the original manufactures name on it receives a far lower rating. Please don't tell me it is because Sears has better service, they use the criminals from A&E service

  • berryberry
    12 years ago

    Used to pay attention to CR but no longer. Too many flaws in what they do, limited models, inherent bias. I would much rather rely on JD Powers Consumer satisfaction rankings and forums like this. Far better IMo to rely on opinions of people who use an item than CR's limited tests

  • Cloud Swift
    12 years ago

    What really irritated me about Consumer Reports on kitchen equipment is the misleading statements they made about pro ranges. It struck me as the kind of half-truths that they criticize in advertising. At the start of the issue they had a list of 10 things not to waste money on where they said that their tests showed that pro-style ranges like Wolf and Viking weren't worth the extra money but turn to their tests and what they tested was a pro-style GE. That is so dishonest.

    We did try out rangetops ourselves before buying. Their tests were quite limited both in the variety of what they tested and in the type of cooking they did.

    More and more of their issues have a bunch of short shallow articles that attempt to cover all kitchen equipment, all home electronics, etc. including tests for 3 or 4 of each type of thing.

  • zedwick_aol_com
    11 years ago

    Sorry to revive such and old post!

    CR is not the best test for appliances and tend to be a bit biased. The issues are:

    For appliances they check repair rate which is fine. Most people who purchase an item (take ranges for instance) might be planning on moving in a few years or if they had purchased a economy or mid range item see a dying item to be replaced with a newer, fancy model. I see many people holding on to their $1000 ranges while economy purchasers seem to just purchase new again.

    Kenmore. For the life of me I can't figure out why CR is in love with Kenmore. Since Kenmore is not a manufacturer (made from many different brands) it would seem that it would test the same as it's real brand counterpart. Not so- I've seen an LG refrigerator marked as #18 on a list while the Kenmore (same exact but with a different brand symbol on the door) ranked first. Somehow I doubt LG is sending all their best appliances to have the name changed....

    Lastly their "tests" aren't real world test. Ask anyone who has had a Dyson for a few years and they will tell you how great it is and how it works as well as when they first purchased it. Not to be an advertisement but 99.99% of vacs stop functioning as they did out of the box within a few (if not a) week(s). Yet a $120 Hoover beats out a Dyson because it is $300 less. Add in usage costs and anything with bags, filters or belts tends to add up to well over a Dyson cost in a few years (Dyson, for most parts at least, is lifetime guarantee).

    Consumer reports is great at seeing what features are out there but they are outdated and quite biased.

  • JA C
    11 months ago

    If you like getting screwed out off a $100 dollar really quick, this is the place to call. 1st of all the repair guy

    (looked like AND SMELLED like a homeless person with the long hair and beard) showed up, didn't say who he was or what company he was with, just barged in the door and said he was here to repair my oven. After looking at it for less than 30 seconds, he tells me what the problem was and said it would be $340 to fix it. I told him that I could not afford that. He then tells me that I own him $107 for coming to my house, after doing no more than opening the oven door! Then says "your choice mister, $340 to fix it or $107 for him telling me what was wrong". I told him to get out of my house after giving him a check (which I stopped payment on). Called sears, they informed me that's how they do business and don't expect a refund. I ordered the part online and fixed the problem myself.

    Please do yourself a favor and call somebody else to repair your appliances and save yourself a big headache!!!