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Description

Consumers' Research is a non-profit organization established in 1929 by Stuart Chase and F. J. Schlink after the success of their book Your Money's Worth: a study in the waste of the Consumer's Dollar galvanized interest in testing products on behalf of consumers. It published a monthly magazine called Consumers' Research Bulletin. Leading staff from this organization, thwarted in their efforts to establish a collective bargaining unit of a labor union, protested and left to form Consumers Union in 1936. The magazine published by Consumers Union, initially Consumers Union Reports and now called Consumer Reports, gained popularity and market share over the Bulletin and largely supplanted its relevance.

History

Consumers' Research published comparative test results on brand-name products and publicized deceptive advertising claims.

Founding

In 1927 Schlink and Chase, encouraged by the public response to the publishing of their book Your Money's Worth, solicited financial, editorial, and technical support from patrons of other activist magazines to support the creation of an organization to offer consumers the unbiased services of “an economist, a scientist, an accountant, and goodness knows what more”. Schlink founded this organization, Consumers' Research, and migrated the existing subscriber base of a White Plains, New York organization's Consumer's Club Commodity List to support the Consumers' Research Bulletin published by his new organization. This was a publication with the mission to “investigate, test and report reliably … hundreds of common commodities purchased.” This magazine would “accept no money or compensation of any kind from manufacturers, dealers, advertising agencies or other commercial enterprises”. In 1927 the circulation of the bulletin was 565; by 1932 there were 42,000 subscribers. In addition to the magazine the organization also published books, pamphlets, and reports.

In 1933 Schlink and Arthur Kallet, a board member of Consumers' Research and former colleague of Schlink at the American Standards Association, published 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs. The book was to become one of the best-selling books of the decade and the metaphor of consumers being guinea pigs exploited by commercial enterprises moved readers as an appropriate description of the public during the Depression. Consumers' Research moved in 1933 to Washington, New Jersey and later the Bowerstown in Washington Township, New Jersey. After the move Schlink began to take more control over the management of the organization and rapidly hired and fired many staff. When Schlink established Consumers’ Research he appointed his wife and close friends to compose the majority of seats on the board of directors, and staff noted that he held control of hiring, firing, and the organization's editorial and budget decisions. When the organization grew the staff began to question its mission.

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Executive director of Consumers' Research
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