Who Reports on Consumer Reports?

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When it comes to issues of auto safety, Consumer Reports is the dominant authority for car buyers. But who gave Consumer Reports all that sway? Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall St. questions the public perception that the 600-person Consumers Union is infallible at testing, evaluating and reporting on auto defects. The strange thing, McIntyre notes, is that "no organizations monitor the monitor." In other words, the "Consumers Union does not have another group that audits its results."

They test dozens of cars and light trucks each year. That means only a moderate time can be given to each set of tests. Tests are prone to error, even those done by government and universities. ... Perhaps every report that the CU has ever issued on every product is test was perfect. But, batting 1,000 is impossible when the tests involve the perception of the tester no matter how skilled they may be.

Is this huge amount of power deserved? Or is it unwise to concentrate this sort of power in the hands of one company?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.