Consumers Union of United States (CU) inspires both trust and
fear. Best known for publishing Consumer Reports magazine, the
independent not-for-profit organization also serves as a consumer
watchdog through other print publications and the Web
(ConsumerReports.org). Its subscription site rates products ranging
from candy bars to cars. CU tests and rates thousands of products
annually through its National Testing and Research Center. CU
accepts no advertising and derives income from the sale of Consumer
Reports and other services, and from non-commercial contributions,
grants, and fees. CU traces its roots to 1926, when engineer
Frederick Schlink organized a "consumer club" to rate products.
CU testifies before legislative and regulatory entities and
files lawsuits on behalf of consumers. The organization is governed
by an 18-member board. Board members are elected by CU members and
meet three times a year.
CU's magazines, websites, and newsletters have a combined
subscription base of more than 8 million.
At its headquarters in Yonkers, New York, CU houses the Testing
and Research Center, which consists of 50 labs and offices. The
organization also has an Auto Test Center in Connecticut; and three
advocacy offices, in Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; and San
Sales and Marketing
The company's major industry markets include energy, health
care, media, and safety.
To preserve its independence, CU does not permit its ratings or
comments to be used commercially.
In addition to its Consumer Reports publication, CU
publishes ShopSmart , a magazine aimed at women who want a
quick read on consumer items such as food, beauty products, and
home and yard products. CU also covers health information through
its ConsumerReportsHealth.org website and the Consumer Reports
Health Ratings Center. It has a presence in the blogging world with
Consumerist.com, which provides snarky coverage of retail markups
and shopper complaints. Rounding out its portfolio of offerings,
the organization delivers ratings of product categories to smart
phones via its Consumer Reports Mobile service.