Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

AARP Real Possibilities


New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

April Discount

40% off of the AARP Smart Driver Course!


Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 


Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles




AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Ask Sid

Not All Consumer Product Raters Are Equal

Q. How credible are the product ratings and recommendations of consumer magazines?

A. Consumer Reports magazine anonymously purchases all products for review and bases its ratings on subscriber surveys and its own testing, or that done by reputable and closely monitored third-party labs.

Owned by the nonprofit Consumers Union, the magazine carries no advertising on its pages and forbids companies from citing in their own advertising its highly respected "CR Best Buy" and "Recommended" designations.

Smaller rival Consumers Digest also reviews a wide range of products too. For cars, it hires freelance writers who are lent vehicles by manufacturers. It allows manufacturers to cite its "Best Buy" awards in their advertising if they pay it a licensing fee. For automakers, fees are typically $35,000 for the first "Best Buy" award and $25,000 for subsequent ones, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Consumers Digest insists its licensing policy doesn't influence its picks and that licensing comes only after the review process.

There's a big collection of other publications that review products. It's not unknown that some issue awards to manufacturers that pay a fee, that are valued advertisers, and that allow their staff or freelance reviewers to accept products for personal use.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer affairs.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.


Members can download new coupon offers available monthly from Kellogg's.

ADT Home Security

Members save 20% off installation of any NEW ADT Home Security System.

Members can earn exclusive points offers from Walgreens.

Member Benefits

Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. Join Today