Consumer Reports – October 2007

Consumer Reports has asked me to eliminate the content of my summaries and any other references to the content of Consumer Reports. I have complied.

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  1. Kelly says:

    Splenda has no health concerns?????
    Please do more extensive research on the subject before posting such a statement. Any food with chlorine in it cannot pose NO health concerns. Not to mention all of the other potential hazards. Just because the FDA says its safe, doesn’t make it so.

  2. Trent says:

    There is no scientific evidence that Splenda has detrimental health effects. To be paranoid about the presence of chlorine in food is almost comical – what do you think table salt is? If you go by that anti-chlorine philosophy, you literally have to give up salt and all foods with salt in it.

  3. Danny says:

    Not to mention you would have to purify (not filter) all your tap water.

    There is a lot of conspiracy theory crap about Splenda, but it is only from some crappy websites, not from a reliable source. Maybe you should “do more extensive research on the subject before posting such a statement.”

  4. Tiffany says:

    Thank you for this article! When I saw the title on my RSS feed, it reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you – is the magazine worth the money? But when I saw the article I realized you’ve answered my question: no, it’s not worth the money when you’ve got The Simple Dollar to sum it up for you :)

  5. Trent says:

    Consumer Reports is perhaps the most valuable magazine I read. Their recommendations almost always are spot on. I really strongly encourage people to get an online subscription to the magazine and archives – whenever you buy anything of value, research it there. We used it in several purchases with our new home and we’ve been thrilled with the recommendations.

  6. vh says:

    I wonder about that Social Security advice. First, how can you reasonably guess when you’re going to croak over? Everyone has some forebears who lived into their 90s (and these days, beyond) AND some who died relatively young–so basing your guess on your parents’ or grandparents’ lifespans is iffy.

    Second, what other resources do you have? If you have, for example, a military or reasonably believable company pension plus some decent cash savings, the relatively small added income from SS could be just what you need to escape the treadmill at 62. On the other hand, if you expect SS to cover the lion’s share of your living expenses, better not quit your day job any time soon.

    SS payout rates are based on actuarial figures that estimate your generation’s average lifespan. So, the amounts you would get at 62, 66 1/2, or 70 are calculated to deliver the same total amount of cash over your remaining lifetime. If you can live on your other resources–or almost live on them–you may be better off to take the money as soon as it comes available, because if you don’t NEED it to live on, it just serves to make you more comfortable. Taking the cash at 62 also guarantees that you will get some benefit from the system you paid into all your life, even if you die younger than you hope.

    But if in fact you need the pittance you will get from SS to make ends meet, you’re not in any position to retire.

    Hey, Trent– Best wishes to you & your family on this real-life “Labor” Day weekend! Hope all goes well and the little girl is as beautiful as you expect.

  7. st says:

    Does Consumer Reports know that you make it unnecessary for your readers to actually purchase their magazine, because you share all the pertinent information it contains anyway? ;-)

  8. cecil says:

    RE: The Kenmore Progressive Vacuum.

    yes, it is worth it. We bought one about 6 months ago and I thought the same thing. How much better than a $70 or $100 unit could it REALLY be?

    The answer is much better.

    I vacuumed an area of carpet with my old Bissell until it was “clean” and then went over it with the new Kenmore. The Kenmore has an optical sensor that sees particles being drawn into the vacuum, and it kept telling me my “clean” area of carpet was still dirty. It took many passes over the same area to rid it of dirt/dust.

    I imagine that for someone really concerned with keeping their home clean because of new kiddos, this might be a good investment.

    Plus with the direct drive and Kenmore quality, it’s certain to be a long-term investment. I was ready to chuck my old Bissell after about 3 months. The Kenmore is awesome.

  9. Andrew Stevens says:

    I’m a newcomer to The Simple Dollar, but I think this is a terrific site, particularly as it’s from a fellow Iowan. (Actually, I was born and raised in Connecticut, but I lived in Iowa City for twelve years and now live in West Des Moines.)

    The one place I have virtually ever disagreed with you, Trent, is your advocacy of late-model used cars. Is that a much better deal than new cars? You bet, but it’s even more frugal to buy a car at about the point that you likely sell yours (so long as it was decently maintained). Glad to see that Consumer Reports agrees with me on this. My wife drives a 1992 Ford Escort GT (I don’t drive at all since I never learned how). The expenses aren’t regular; some months it costs next to nothing to operate (just gas and liability insurance), but occasionally we have to cough up an “expensive” repair. (E.g. just recently we paid $900 to repair the rear brakes and the fuel pump.) On average, though, it’s quite a lot cheaper than late-model used and tons cheaper than new cars. Cars are one of the few places where the poor genuinely save money compared to the middle class. Usually, it’s quite expensive to be poor, but having their options restricted works in their favor when it comes to cars. Of course, it doesn’t work great for them, especially if they can’t afford the occasional pricey repair.

    I’m not criticizing the decision to buy newer cars. There are other factors at work than simple finances – desire for status, desire for reliability, etc. (Our Escort has never stranded us, but it’s certainly a much greater risk.) But many people will argue with me that late-model used cars are better financially and it just ain’t so.

  10. Elaine says:

    $300 is outrageous for a vacuum? Last month my boyfriend dropped $700 on this bad boy:

    Expensive maybe, but he’s pretty sure it’s better than sex. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that, but I guess it’s better than living with a slob!

  11. julie says:

    Earlier this year we decided we needed to replace our old and barely working vacuum, and after doing the CR research we selected the Kenmore. I hadn’t been in a Sears for years, and I was shocked at the appearance of the stores (disorganized, dirty) and the ineptitude of the sales staff.
    At the first Sears I tried out the floor model to see how I liked it. It seemed to vacuum very well, and it wasn’t so heavy that I had trouble maneuvering it. When I went to try out the attachments though, I was out of luck – most of them were missing from the floor model. They called the next closest Sears, and I was told that they had the missing attachments on their floor model.
    So we drove over to the other Sears, only to find that their floor model did *not* have the missing attachments – there were attachments from some other vacuum on it instead. These weren’t even other Kenmore attachments and they didn’t fit the vacuum. It did, however, take the sales person about 15 minutes to figure that out (even though it was obvious by looking at the ends of the attachments).
    I was hesitant to purchase the vacuum without trying out all the attachments, but I was out of Sears stores in our area. I asked if they could open a box so I could try them, but they wouldn’t/couldn’t. I then asked if I purchased the vacuum and tried it out at home if I could return it if I was unhappy with the attachments. The sales person (this is still the attachment-impaired one) said of course, no problem.
    So she rings me up for the vacuum, and as I’m looking over my receipt before signing it, I see that there’s a 15% restocking fee on returns! She never mentioned that earlier. After a brief conversation to confirm that this restocking fee couldn’t be eliminated, I walked away from the purchase.
    Anyhow, I suppose this is a post more geared towards The Consumerist website than this one, but it seems to me that once customer service is factored in, the Kenmore machine shouldn’t be as well-rated as it is. Of course, maybe stores in other areas aren’t as bad as ours.
    As far as cars go, we have a mid-90′s Corolla, and it costs us next to nothing. Just gas (gets great mileage!), insurance, oil changes and occasional maintenance. And it runs great – we’ve never had a major problem with it. We’re one of the few of our friends that don’t have a car payment, and it’s really nice to have that extra money.

  12. beth says:

    1. what’s in CFLs that requires that kind of handling? too bad I broke a CFL last week before I knew how careful I was supposed to be. hmm.

    2. Splenda tastes nasty. End of story. I’d rather be sparing with sugar than use chemically altered foods.

    3. Please remind your readers that many many libraries provide full-text access to Consumer Reports articles in their electronic databases. This is a fantastic paid-for resource that is a bit tricky to use, but a good reference librarian can teach a moderately competent user pretty quickly. The databases usually have a month or two lag time before getting the articles in, but for purchasing research, it can’t be beat.

  13. Joshua Oliver says:

    I spend about $350 on a Dyson DC14 Animal, it was a refurb. Had it a little over a year and it was so worth it. We have a Doberman that sheds like crazy and the Dyson is awesome at sucking up all his hair.

  14. MarketGarden says:

    My wife is a clean freak. We have a $400 Dyson, a $300 steam cleaner, and various other machines that clean and freshen. I don’t see the point, but $700+ to keep her happy in clean is a small price to pay.

  15. Kenny says:

    I noticed an odd incongruity in this month’s issue.

    First it talks about maintaining your car, keeping it running well, and conserving energy and saving the environment for future generations by switching to energy-saving light bulbs, insulation, and regular maintenance of energy-using things.

    Basically be a good steward of the things you have and look out for the future generations.

    Then, there’s an article about when to start drawing on Social Security, and the bottom line recommendation is: start taking your Social Security benefits early because it might be gone later on.

    Consumer Reports I think says “get it while the getting’s good.”

    So on one hand they want us to take care of things to help future generations, and in the same issue they encourage us to take our Social Security benefits before the fund is gone, basically sticking it to the younger generation.

    That bothered me a whole lot.

    They didn’t even mention the need to try to fix the whole Social Security program to make it last longer.

  16. Chris says:

    I agree that splenda is pure evil. even if the websites are wrong and it has no health detriments it tastes AWFUL!

    The first time I ever had sucralose was on accident. I bought a drink called Fuze, and it tasted extremely sweet.

    5 hours after having a couple sips I could still taste it in my mouth.

    For me equal/aspartme has always had a horrid aftertaste, but splenda is even worse because it just doesn’t go away, I end up with this horrible sweetness in my mouth for at least 15 minutes after touching sucralose.

    For me the words “made with splenda” have become “do not buy” and the words “sugar free, or low in sugar” have become “look at the ingredients for sucralose”.

    One of my favorite cheap drinks had always been tropicana twister. It had calories, but was better than soda. Now they did not reduce the amount of sugar, but they added sucralose, ruining the drink. what sense does it make to add sucralose to your product and not remove the sugar?

  17. Jenn says:

    Splenda itself is pretty good. The above commenter’s problem is that he “bought a drink called Fuze”, not that Splenda sucks. :) My mom is diabetic and I’ve had plenty of experience with sugar substitutes.

    Also, my mom actually just bought me that vacuum. Holy cow, I had no idea she spent that much. It’s a nice enough vacuum, much quieter and more thorough than the previous one I had, and I’m happy to go back to bags. My only real complaint so far is that the edge cleaning is pretty poor.

  18. Chris says:

    I always love people who take one comment and ignore the rest jenn :). fuze was the first thing i ever tried with sucralose, and since then i’ve had similar experiences with every product containing sucralose. Either there is something wrong with sucralose or my body chemistry, but for people like me sucralose can ruin your entire day even on accidental ingestion.

  19. Lesley Stevens says:

    “2. Splenda tastes nasty. End of story. I’d rather be sparing with sugar than use chemically altered foods.”

    I’m coming way late to the party, and this will
    probably never be read, but Beth, you do realize that _cooking_ chemically alters food, right?

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