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Founded in 1960 and published by Consumers Digest Communications, LLC, Consumers Digest (ISSN 0010-7182 is an American magazine. The magazine is a horizontal-based consumer products review periodical. Commentary and editorial features are published as well. This includes items of consumer interest, new products, industry trends, and safety/recall information. The magazine is based around three main offerings: 1. the bimonthly periodical; 2. the yearly complete car guide; and 3. the "Consumers Digest Best Buy" ratings featured in the magazine and yearly automotive special. Consumers Digest is based in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois.
Consumers Digest was founded by Arthur Weber in 1960 (from masthead). Since then, the Weber family has carried on the tradition of publishing the bimonthly magazine as well as specials and yearly auto guides. The magazine has long focused on not just reviewing products, but featuring editorial and commentary on emerging consumer issues such as unfair business practices and legislation affecting consumers. Consumers Digest sells its "Best Buy" awards to manufactures. Consumers find this business model troubling, and question the usefulness of an award that manufacturers must purchase.
Six times per year, Consumers Digest Communications, LLC, publishes a magazine called Consumers Digest. This magazine is one of the few horizontal-based publications (featuring a broad spectrum of consumer goods) that includes both objective product ratings as well as editorial and commentary about consumer safety, industry trends, and political issues of interest to the buying public. The signature feature is the "Consumers Digest Best Buys." The Consumers Digest Best Buys are not based solely on price or features, but value to consumers (from Complete Car Guide 2010). Examples of stories from the publication include Consumers Digest Best Buys on home-office furniture, freezers, and pet carriers. Editorial content is also featured, as well as articles such as finding the "Real Deal" on mobile apps, health-care reform, and bank fees.
Along with being the electronic go-to source for all of Consumers Digest’s Best Buy recommendations, ConsumersDigest.com is a one-stop shop for scrutiny of everything consumer—from emerging products and services, to health care and personal finance, to travel and retail, and more. The website is the place to find Consumers Digest’s staff’s real-time reporting of daily consumer news and product recalls. Overall, 80 percent of the editorial content of the website is available without a subscription. Subscribers gain additional access to the publication’s Best Buy recommendations; feature articles, department news and recommendations from its current issue; the Complete Interactive New Car Guide; and the Ultimate Auto Showroom, which permits viewers to build and price any vehicle, and includes free unlimited print-outs of the reports that are generated by the process. The vehicle pricing (MSRP and invoice), options pricing and lists of standard features that the Ultimate Auto Showroom displays are updated daily.
A 1-month subscription to ConsumersDigest.com costs $5.00. A 1-year subscription to the website costs $19.00. A 1-year subscription to both the Complete Interactive New Car Guide and the Ultimate Auto Showroom can be purchased separately for $10.00. All elements of ConsumerDigest.com are accessible via mobile devices (excluding BlackBerry).
Yearly auto guide
The yearly auto guide, known as "Consumers Digest Complete 2010 Car Guide" in 2010, features Consumers Digest Best Buy ratings, dealer invoice prices, concept cars, safety ratings, and expert reviews of over 250 cars and trucks. Contributors include auto experts such as Jim Mateja, Chicago Tribune auto columnist (from 2010 Complete Car Guide). The Consumers Digest Best Buys are awarded by a process including research, driving tests at both test facilities and on road, and within ten categories. Those categories include:
- Small Cars
- Family Cars
- Luxury Cars
- Sporty Cars
- Compact SUV
- Midsize SUV
- Full-Size/Luxury SUV
Factors under review include:
- Repair History (as available)
- Dealer reputations
- Estimated repair/maintenance costs
- Annual operating expenses
- Insurance-industry ratings
- Crash-test results
- Corporate service and manufacturing reputations
- Estimated resale values
Licensing and neutrality
After choosing Consumers Digest Best Buys in each category, the magazine may license the right to use the Consumers Digest Best Buy logo to manufacturers. The magazine chose 15 General Motors vehicles for its 2010 "Best Buy" awards, and then GM licensed the right to use Consumers Digest's seal in its advertising. The magazine awards its Consumers Digest Best Buy seal to products its staff judges to be of the best quality for the most reasonable price. Some of the brands that have licensed the seal include Cal Spas hot tubs, Bridgestone Tires, Brinks Home Security, Multi-Pure Drinking Water Systems, McKleinUSA Business Cases and Mercury Automobiles. The magazine is sold at newsstands only and does not reveal its sales figures. In 2001, when it ceased subscription distribution, it listed 700,000 subscribers (the list was sold to Time, Inc.). The publication has no connection with the Consumer Reports magazine or with Consumers Digest Weekly.
In 1997, the Attorney General of Connecticut sent "cease and desist" orders to many companies, including Consumers Digest (which at the time sold subscriptions to its magazine), for failure to comply with state disclosure laws designed to protect consumers.