Consumer Reports

This commentary is our opinion only and we stress that we DO NOT represent this organization, have any affiliation with them, or their vacuum ratings system. We do not comment on any specific results of their findings, as this would violate their copyrights.

Many people look each month with anticipation for the next issue to see what the ratings are of the product categories that are featured. We are not experts on all the categories that they review, only vacuum cleaners. Let us say that we believe that they ARE completely unbiased and objective in their testing and sincerely attempt to guide consumers in selecting the best product. One of the things that we particularly like about the people who read Consumer Reports is that they are very curious, well-informed consumers who collect information to make good purchasing decisions.

While we do believe that the people at Consumer Reports are honest and conscientious, they do not test all vacuum cleaners that are made annually, but rather a select few. We don’t know how Consumer Reports' vacuum selections are made. However, when a $149 vacuum is compared to an $850 vacuum and the $149 vacuum is rated higher, it’s like saying that a Ford Taurus is more highly rated than a BMW 530. There are surely more people able to afford a Taurus than can afford a BMW, but we would suspect that most Taurus drivers would rate the BMW higher if THEY were asked.

What are they testing? There are several hundred different vacuum models manufactured each year. CR tests somewhere between 20 and 30 models. We have seen CR test and rate two vacuums that are EXACTLY the same, the only exception being the brand name of the vacuum, yet one was rated higher than the other. We would feel more comfortable if CR tested at least HALF of the vacuums across a broad spectrum of perceived quality, price and type.

CR’s tests are a combination of objective (measured tests done in the same environment) and subjective (opinions based on the “feelings” of the testers) factors. Again, we point out that we believe that the CR is honest and conducts objective tests appropriately, reaching specific, data supported conclusions. It’s when CR brings in the subjective or opinion side of the ratings that we question the validity of the results. Is a vacuum rated for ease of use? How about weight? Is heavy better? Or is lighter better? Is a high price better? Or is a low price better? Will it pick up pet hair? On wood floors? On tile? On berber carpet? Was it tested on today’s newer “shag” carpets? Was the quality of materials considered? Did they consider the cost of repairs? Did they consider the availability of service centers? Did they test the durability or reliability of the vacuum? This last item is perhaps the biggest issue and one of the distinguishing characteristics between a “value priced” vacuum and a “better” vacuum.

The most important test that CR cannot perform is the test of a particular vacuum IN YOUR HOME and the environment that you must use it in. Your situation is unique and that’s why we spend some time in our site sharing what factors should be considered in selecting a vacuum.

As a means of illustration, let me offer the following: Would a 70 year old couple living in a condominium with 30% tile and 70% plush carpet rate an XYZ Vacuum, Model #1234 the same way as a family of 5 living in a single family home with 50% hardwood floors and 50% shag carpet with one asthmatic child? The answer is so obvious that it screams NO. But that is the approach that they are suggesting in their publication, and we respectfully believe that their conclusions are flawed as a result. In the final analysis, the CR rating is their opinion. I respectfully suggest that your opinion is as good as theirs.

Remember, the BEST vacuum cleaner for YOU is the one that will do the cleaning job that you require, on the surfaces that you must clean, with the effectiveness that you need. You should be able to afford the right vacuum, and you should feel comfortable using it regularly.

 
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