Thread Number: 16700
Hypothetical advice for Consumer Reports
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Post# 178164   4/23/2012 at 15:14 (2,907 days old) by ralph123 (Little Rock, AR)        

If you got to develop the standard procedures for testing vacuums for Consumer Reports, what would you have them do?

Personally I think CR would benefit from looking to a group such as this to recommend better ways to test vacuums - particularly as both vacuums and floor coverings evolve over time.

Post# 178166 , Reply# 1   4/23/2012 at 15:17 (2,907 days old) by twocvbloke ()        
"what would you have them do?"

Stop giving better ratings for companies who pay them the biggest cheques...

Post# 178173 , Reply# 2   4/23/2012 at 15:46 (2,907 days old) by vintagerepairer (England)        

"Stop giving better ratings for companies who pay them the biggest cheques... " Oh my word that is funny. I often wondered about this. I think the best thing would be to ask consumers what they want, not to develop tests on what they think they should test. Also the proof of the pudding is in the eating and no tests seem truly capable of duplicating the actual wear and tear which is inflicted on products by everyday people using the products at home. If they could, nothing would ever have to be modified. As we all know, many things do fail and have to be modified. It is an age old story.

Do you remember Dyson doing a television commercial which showed the factory tests the cleaners go through? It is all well and good doing that, but the tests are all the same. So pushing something a few thousand times might replicate a few thousand identical pushes, but the use it would get in the real world would not be identical and different amounts of pressure and force would be used.

Post# 178205 , Reply# 3   4/23/2012 at 17:50 (2,907 days old) by danemodsandy ()        
My Advice to CR:

Go to a public library, look up the 1970's issues of your publication, and COPY WHAT YOU SEE THERE.

The magazine used to be well laid-out, thoughtful in its approach to testing, thorough and comprehensible. There also was much more attention given to testing a wide range of products within a certain category.

Now, I get very little out of a report, aside from which product they think is "best," and I seldom agree with that conclusion, since it often seems to be based in very subjective factors.

Post# 178217 , Reply# 4   4/23/2012 at 19:11 (2,907 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        
"Stop giving better ratings for companies who pay them t

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How well put! Which UK are notorious for this - it seems every Miele vacuum they test has "different data," on same motor built vacuums, but seem to have a different set of final results, often turning a blind eye to the obvious but then they suddenly ALL get a Best Buy award! They moan about other brands that put out too much hot air and don't say a thing about the hot air exhaust at the top when it comes to changing the suction setting.

Post# 178221 , Reply# 5   4/23/2012 at 19:29 (2,907 days old) by petek (Ontario)        

Sandy I agree with you on that about the condensed articles but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that all the manufacturers keep pumping out new models so frequently compared to in the past when their model lineups were less and it might take a few years before they made any drastic changes. They could get away with a once per year report that would be valid for at least a year or two, the machines would still be on the market. To compensate they rate vacs and other appliances now at least twice a year if not more.

As for them being bribed, no way. All the manufacturers have legal departments and you can bet they scrutinize everything especially if they get a bad review. Don't think that the also don't scrutinize CR's money trail for inconsistencies, bribes and payoffs. Secondly, Consumer Reports does not make their tests and methodology secret. If a manufacturer disagrees with their report they're welcome to go to the CR facility and have the test redone in their presence, they can inspect all the machines used in the testing for jiggery pokery etc. and see for themselves if the test results are rigged.
Suzuki tried to sue them for years in court battles after CR rated one of their vehicles "not acceptable" because it's wheels came off the ground in cornering tests. The tests were done over and over again and they lost.

Lastly for an organization that has existed for over 75 years unlike most companies, no employee has ever "blown the whistle" on them for cheating.. They employ hundreds if not a thousand or more people and they've been doing it all those years.. some-one would if it were true. Not everyone can be bribed.

Post# 178235 , Reply# 6   4/23/2012 at 22:00 (2,906 days old) by notacollector ()        

I think you can rely on their ratings, but only with the criteria they used which may be different from yours.

They should publish decibel level. I have read that 85 decibels can damage hearing. By that criteria I suspect that many of the machines should be rated not acceptable.

What about handle weight? More and more parts of the machines have been creeping up the handle, especially the bagless machines. There is a major difference between the old machines and the new except for Kirby whose handle weight is just about neutral.

I also noticed that the width of the cleaning head was not mentioned.

Post# 178238 , Reply# 7   4/23/2012 at 22:12 (2,906 days old) by Ralph123 (Little Rock, AR)        

CR has added some new tests for cat and dog hair. However, I wonder how the test results would vary on other carpet types. For example, what carpeting can be effectively cleaned by a lightweight vacuum? If you're elderly and have an Oreck, what's the best carpet choice for you? I'd love for them to show survey data regarding price for door to door brands. CR has recently listed the price of a new Rainbow e-series E2 at $1350 and a new Kirby Sentria at $1350, Aerus Legacy at $1300, and Aerus Guardian at $1500.

I was quoted a price of nearly $2600 for new Rainbow - which seemed ridiculous - when you consider it's more than the cost of a nice washer and dryer. Can you actually buy a new Rainbow for $1350 somewhere in the US?

Post# 178245 , Reply# 8   4/23/2012 at 22:41 (2,906 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        

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Petek et al - That's the problem with these companies. The info you get isn't quite in depth enough - which is why review sites exist giving individual experiences from actual owners - I don't believe CR or even the UK equivalent WHICH UK is the "god above all" for data tests on vacuum cleaners let alone household appliances or indeed anything else they publish.

Because of the way vacuum cleaners are required to be used in so many ways such as cleaning on different types of surfaces, to hard floors, to the use of the smaller cleaning tools, to maintenance, changing the filter/washing/buying/changing a bag, weight of the actual individual floor head, tubes, length of hose etc - these requirements are seldom reflected in tests and are consistent with every brand.

CR, WHICH, GHI - they're good at their marketing and they're good for promoting the brands - but when it comes to actual testing, they can only go so far. Sadly for collectors though and for those who pride in machines, it's never quite enough to just read baseline reports and I'm sorry but brands DO bribe consumers AND testing companies.

One company I can think of who are bribing UK consumers at this moment are Vax. Since they merged with TTI and Dirt Devil, they consistently send out free machines and appliances to consumers in the agreement that they will write up a good review about the product to promote the machine, thus cutting the cost of actual advertisement. I became a member of their product trials but they know me well from the product reviews I've written over the years - I write what I feel is honest - and quelle surprise, Vax have never sent out a free machine to me yet! Bad publicity isn't what brands what, whether it's the truth or not!

Post# 178255 , Reply# 9   4/24/2012 at 00:40 (2,906 days old) by petek (Ontario)        

Well they do rate a lot of those things bundled into the column "ease of use". They're not always called out specifically in the report unless some particular machine has a glaring issue that a lot of people would find objectionable. Not sure but I think they go into more detail on their website (which you have to pay for) Anyone know?

Post# 178279 , Reply# 10   4/24/2012 at 07:19 (2,906 days old) by jmurray01 (Scotland)        

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I totally agree with you there David, it is all about money money money.

A bit like that American commercial where Jackie Stewart tested the Ford Tempo and couldn't praise it high enough.

Post# 178484 , Reply# 11   4/25/2012 at 09:05 (2,905 days old) by ralph123 (Little Rock, AR)        

Lots of good recommendations here. I would assume that CR scours the web from time to time to see what people write about them. At least the online version of CR allows for user reviews from subscribers. I would like to see longer more detailed reports in online supplements - it's not like they can say that it costs to much to print.

I'd like to see something about ability to get under furniture. What drives the rotating brush. How easy is it to make belt, bag changes and to clean the brush roll. How easy is it to access/remove brush roll to clean out something accidentally picked up? I can remember a Hoover Elite model that I feared the plastic tabs wouldn't survive too many removals due to cheap plastic. Other vacuums are designed with easy maintenance in mind. Would also like to see estimated 5 year cost under reasonable assumptions of use. This is tricky because CR is sometimes uncomfortable when some vacs don't need belt changes, for example, due to permanent style belts.

I'd like to see something dedicated to door to door brands and the tricks/gimmicks used in the sales presentations.

Post# 178514 , Reply# 12   4/25/2012 at 13:33 (2,905 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

How about follow-up reviews, taking a second look at machines after they've been in the field for some time? A particular machine can get good reviews when it's brand new but what about after it's been thrashed around? Certain machines have defects that come out only after a given amount of use, particularly electrical components in the later machines (read, cheaply-made Chinese parts). It takes time for resistance to build up in these parts and subsequently fail. Yes, the machine may have sucked like crazy (intended pun) when new, but CR wouldn't have any knowledge of the time bomb-like electricals. As an example.

Post# 178619 , Reply# 13   4/26/2012 at 02:35 (2,904 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

How bout a WIDER range of machines tested-I don't see ANY ratings for metal Royal uprights,or Sanitaire upright vacuums-the Sanitaires may be marketed to commercial users-but often marketed to home users,too by dealers.I just don't think CU has the integrity they used to have.And I don't see ratings for other DTD machines such as Filter Queen,TriStar,Vortech Force,Aerus, Miracle Mate,and others.

Post# 178635 , Reply# 14   4/26/2012 at 09:50 (2,904 days old) by petek (Ontario)        

I think it's a little too much to ask for follow ups on pedestrian household items like vacuums. By time they could accomplish it that the model or some of the 40 others tested would be off the market and replaced by something else, which then would need follow ups and on and on and on..
And that's only vacuums, then you've got tv's, coffee makers, washing machines etc..
They do a good enough job just rating the overall reliability of a manufacturers product line as a risk guide.

Post# 178659 , Reply# 15   4/26/2012 at 12:14 (2,904 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        

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Well, WHICH UK get around it by doing annual reliability stats rather than back up testing.

I don't think back up tests are good though - owners treat their vacuums very differently and some brands go as far to removing the model at the time of the original test with another model so that it doesn't reflect the original findings - Miele used to do that as well as Morphy Richards.

Through the stats WHICH UK then reflect on aspects like use, build quality, design, customer service etc and then produce a final tally and statistic.

Another thought that just occurred to me - how can machines stand up to the sound tests? Where consumers who may well have a decibel reader/meter can do their own tests, it would have to be done in a very controlled environment compared to just testing a machine for noise in a household where air noise/outside noise might be affected. Should sound ratings be trusted wholly, then?

Post# 178681 , Reply# 16   4/26/2012 at 15:42 (2,904 days old) by ralph123 (Little Rock, AR)        

I'm not sure how the data is used, but Consumer Reports sends vacuums home with employees for in home testing.

Post# 178690 , Reply# 17   4/26/2012 at 16:09 (2,904 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I do testing of vacuums, here's what I do , lab test , put on about 2 years worth of use in a matter of weeks , then the most important test, take it home and use the same machine for a month or two. all vacuums work great when new but how do they cope after 2 years. Ive been doing this a long time and I have found that most vacuums if they are going to give trouble do so after 2 years when things start to wear. 

Again I want to know how well that vacuum works after 2 years of heavy use.  We even place domestic machines in hotels for a month or two , nothing wrecks a machine and shows up any weak points like that, but always home testing as that show's up inconveniences and problems with using the machine and maintenance.  

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