Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Love/Hate Relationship with Consumer Reports

I've been a Consumer Reports subscriber for a couple of years now. I enjoy their honest, unbiased, comprehensive reports on products large and small, and I indeed consult their advice before making purchases that are important to me. I've researched everything from appliances to cell phones to laundry detergents. They are masters of the lab tests.

What they have yet to master, however, is the art of making it easy for customers to do business with them. Case in point: This month I received my subscription renewal notice in the mail. I replied to it via the mail and asked to be billed. Today I received two emails, the first stating that Consumer Reports is grateful for my renewing, and I could easily renew my subscription with my credit card online. So I tried to do this and the window popped up and everything looked fine and dandy... but I looked closer and realized the site was not secure in any noticeable way. No https, no little lock in the bottom corner of the window, etc. I didn't want to chance that.

So I skipped that one and went to the next email where they told me my card from my last renewal had expired (I guess they tried to automatically renew me or something, I really don't know) and suggested I go to the site to re-enter my credit card info. So I did and I got to the secure part where I can log in and enter my information. At this login page, they want my account number, which is only located on the magazine's mailing label, not on the bill. I checked the mailing label to the lastest issue, and sure enough it wasn't there... it must have been in plastic wrap and I threw it out. I tried to login with the information I usually use to look at their info on line, and that didn't work. Ugh.

To make matters worse, there's no listed email address or phone number to contact anybody, and the web site is an absolute maze of trying to find anything other than product info. Nor is there any contact info in their magazine itself.

I must say... This is maddening!!! What kind of organization makes somebody jump through so many hoops to renew a subscription?!? Every marketer knows that when somebody is ready to buy, there should be zero obstacles in their way to do so. I found at least 5 in my path this time around. Not good.

I'd go so far to say that it's a marketing travesty in my honest, unbiased, comprehensive opinion.

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