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I have been a subscriber for decades now and sometimes wonder why. They seem to test only big box snow blowers and the model of Ariens Deluxe 30 they rate is from at least 2 years ago. They have been slipping for years now. I am tempted to write a letter/email to the editor. They seem to be more concerned with their logo and magazine design these days than providing comprehensive ratings. Regarding snowblowers I do not have faith in their ratings, they don't factor in customer support and user reviews among other factors.
 

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I stopped reading their reviews when I saw a video they put up that said they tested their snowblowers in the summer time by blowing wet sawdust! That's the same logic as if the snowmobile manufacturers tested their sleds at the beach in summer!
 

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it is to bad they base their ratings the way they do, i guess the 3 stager is the machine of choice for lumber mills.
 

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Not sure why, but I have never trusted their reviews. I'm not much on reviews from any company that is paid to review products. This is obviously just speculation, but I'm sure they are "influenced" in their rating. I much rather go with reviews of "real" people, and even then, you always take public reviews with a grain of salt
 

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Seems like typical CR excellence.

- They chose two Ariens models that are discontinued
- For heavy snowfall, they went with the Deluxe line instead of Platinum line
- In that line, they went with the Deluxe 28 - not the Deluxe 28 SHO...again, for heavy snowfall
- They added a bunch of odd zeros to the end of the well-known 921030 model number
- And they aren't even close on accurate pricing.


They were once relevant. That was a long time ago.



ETA: Just to clarify, I am not bashing the Deluxe line or non-SHO models. Heck, I just bought a Deluxe 24. :)
 

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Scott, William, Mark!
Get OVER HERE. please.:icon-deadhorse::banghead::eeek:
 

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Scott, William, Mark!
Get OVER HERE. please.:icon-deadhorse::banghead::eeek:
Why? nothing much happening here IMO..I see nothing moderators need to be concerned about. (yet)
yes, we have had these discussions before..but its a timely and useful discussion, especially this time of year.

Scot
 

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Why? nothing much happening here IMO..I see nothing moderators need to be concerned about. (yet)
yes, we have had these discussions before..but its a timely and useful discussion, especially this time of year.

Scot
Yes, very timely and because it's going to get to 75 degrees here Wednesday I'm getting out the sawdust, wet it down and have some fun. :icon_smile_tongue: I was actually toying with the idea of replacing my 1999 single stage this year, guess I'll wait a few months.
 
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Yup.. definitely take with a grain of salt. I mostly go by actual owner reviews and hands/eyes on examination of a machine. I bagged by CR subscription last time renewal was up a year ago. Not a big fan anymore. It seems like out of date testing on many of the models they review.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I'm not much on reviews from any company that is paid to review products.
I have been a long time subscriber to CR, and although their reviews are certainly far from perfect, to say that they are influenced to rate a product higher simply because they are paid to, is just ignorant. Consumer Reports bases every rating they publish, and their entire reputation, on the fact that they don't accept payment or advertising from any manufacturer. In fact, they clearly state that there are times when the only way to rate a new product is to accept something straight from the manufacturer itself so that they can produce a timely rating for that product, however, after it is widely available to the public, they literally go out to purchase it themselves just to insure that the product they received wasn't full of bells and whistles that might have skewed the initial rating. In addition, CR is known for its "secret shoppers" that literally buy dozens, if not 100's, of the same product just to test uniformity and reliability of the 1000's of products it tests. If all of this were shown to be false, CR would tank.

They seem to test only big box snow blowers...
Yes, that's pretty much true. If I recall correctly, the only products they choose to test are ones that are sold widely through-out the country. For example, in the case of snow blowers and even lawn tractors, you won't see Simplicity anywhere in their ratings, however, you have seen Snapper. Because Snapper, although built by Briggs and Stratton like Simplicity, has a larger dealer network (or at least it used to) it has appeared in their ratings of lawn tractors from time to time. Yet, Simplicity, which is a far superior machine, is not cutting enough lawns or blowing enough snow for CR to really pay attention.

Although, with all of that said, they do have an affinity for all things Honda which certainly is not found in every driveway across America. For example, I have noticed that most auto manufacturers will come out with a new model that CR will test, but not recommend because of too little data with respect to reliability. However, when Honda comes out with a new model, the lack of reliability data never seems to prevent CR from recommending it.

I stopped reading their reviews when I saw a video they put up that said they tested their snow blowers in the summer time by blowing wet sawdust!
Yep, sounds weird. However, after watching the video and even scanning for pictures, that saw dust looks pretty clumpy and heavy. I doubt they could ever truly mimic the EOD piles that accumulate and truly hinder many machines, however, to discount their methods is just wrong. In fact, if you read the fine print in their latest issue it says, "we check-test in real dense snow piles." This is in relation to snow being plowed to the edge of a driveway. So, yes, the wet saw dust method is used, but so is real snow.

They chose two Ariens models that are discontinued
Finally, I looked up all of the Ariens models in the rankings provided in the print issue, and all 3 can still be bought just about everywhere. And, although the prices are not 100% accurate, they are not so far off that a consumer would hesitate to make the purchase. In fact, for the most part, they were off by $29.00 if the purchase was made online instead of a dealer. With all of that said, CR should not imply the latest ratings pertain to the 2016 model year. However, to be fair, it clearly states on the cover page that they are publishing the “latest ratings” from their labs. In fact, the title is simply Product Updates. CR never actually says that the snow blowers listed are the latest and greatest, just a ranking for the models that have been tested. It’s certainly misleading, but every snow blower can still be bought.
 

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Smolenski,

I'm with you!

Honestly, and I'll probably get flamed for this, I think a lot of the criticism of CR is politically motivated. They have a certain bias and people who disagree with that bias start digging for any reason, fact-based or not, to criticize the magazine.

If you're looking for biased "paid to review" opinions, CR is the last place you should look. As I understand it, more than 50% of "customer reviews" on Amazon are paid for... just as an example. CR is a nonprofit organization that whenever possible buys products for testing at retail, anonymously. As you mention, sometimes they have to accept samples from manufacturers in order to present information in a timely fashion, but when they do that, they always state it clearly in the article.

They also don't just "make up" testing techniques... they follow industry standards. If they're testing snowblowers with sawdust, it's most likely because the manufacturers do the same. If you think about it, it's a simple matter of practicality... if I were running a magazine that tested products here in MA and had planned to do snowblower testing last winter, I'd be in deep doo-doo because we didn't have any snow. If you were running a product-rating magazine and found yourself in that situation what would you do? Cancel the article? "Oh, sorry, we don't know anything about this year's snowblowers because we had no snow."

I think they do sometimes have a bias toward certain manufacturers, but the bias is based on experience. Honda is a well-respected company that has a long and solid track record for building quality OPE, and I think it's perfectly sensible that that should factor into the ratings. I think a lot of us here have similar biases... if I walk into a store to buy a snowblower, and see an Ariens sitting next to a Stanley, I'm not going to waste my time looking at the Stanley because I know how much better Ariens' reputation is. IMHO it's a perfectly legitimate way to take into account factors that may not show up in testing... as long as it's balanced against actual test results.

Actually my biggest criticism of CR is they don't do enough of the above. They'll test TVs and rate some off-brand higher than Sony solely because it did better in testing. That's fine for what it is, but two years from now when the "Dave's TVs" set croaks and your neighbor's Sony is still working, you're not going to be a happy camper.
 
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Smolenski,

Actually my biggest criticism of CR is they don't do enough of the above. They'll test TVs and rate some off-brand higher than Sony solely because it did better in testing. That's fine for what it is, but two years from now when the "Dave's TVs" set croaks and your neighbor's Sony is still working, you're not going to be a happy camper.
Thats another potential "problem" with the CR reviews of snowblowers..they rate the performance of the machines only when they are brand new.
Which they need to do of course...but..there is no account taken of longevity and reliability over time. Will an Ariens or Honda be in better condition than a Cub Cadet 10 years from now? all things being equal? All the evidence says yes, clearly they will..because build quality and build robustness is *not* the same between all manufacturers...but these differences are not readily apparent on brand-new machines, they are differences that only appear over time.

Consumer reports does keep track of reliability and quality over time with their used car ratings..which I find very meaningful and helpful. A car that rates highly when it is brand-new can end up rated much more poorly when its 5 years old..it would be helpful if they could do the same with other products.

Scot
 

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Thats another potential "problem" with the CR reviews of snowblowers..they rate the performance of the machines only when they are brand new.
Which they need to do of course...but..there is no account taken of longevity and reliability over time. .

..it would be helpful if they could do the same with other products.

Scot
I'm not quite sure how CR figures out reliability from their survey. However, I do from reading the fine print that they take into account only the first 3 years of ownership. This obviously isn't very long. One would think that the reliability of any machine will only get worse as time goes on, so why CR chose 3 years is a bit confusing. I would think that any machine should last 3 years if used by a typical homeowner. Maybe this is why there is no statistical difference between #1 Honda and #7 Craftsman.

I wish someone could explain CR's methodology and philosophy.
 

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You can not trust reviews that much anymore. Some are paid for . If an owner of an Ariens, Toro , Craftsman, Honda , had a good experience with their machine , they will give it 5 stars. In the big picture that maybe be 1-3 out of 10 owners overall . may be 6 out of 10 or even 8 out of 10.

What I did when we moved to the California mountains near the famous Donner Summit was to look around and ask people while I walked my dogs. Many snowstorms I took walks and saw people using their blowers. The vast majority of blowers I saw in action was Honda's. By 10-1 over any other brand. The local Honda dealer had over 200 machines backed up for service recently.

We get big snow here so maybe that is the reason Honda is so dominant. It is not uncommon to get 8-24 inches in one day. I have been here 20 years and most storms dump 2-3 feet at a time. One February it was recorded at 199 inches for the month and that wasn't the record.

There is nothing better than ol fashioned "Word Of Mouth" advertising when it came to our decision on what to buy.
 

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The vast majority of blowers I saw in action was Honda's. By 10-1 over any other brand.
wow, thats very unusual.
In my area I see Ariens or Toro probably 50%, and very few Hondas..

We get big snow here so maybe that is the reason Honda is so dominant.
that could be one factor, but im guessing there is a second factor in play as well..
If you are seeing Honda snowblowers 10-1 over any other brand, im guessing that in addition to "big snow", this is also a "big bucks" neighborhood! ;)
(not that there is anything wrong with that..)

Scot
 

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wow, thats very unusual.
In my area I see Ariens or Toro probably 50%, and very few Hondas..



that could be one factor, but im guessing there is a second factor in play as well..
If you are seeing Honda snowblowers 10-1 over any other brand, im guessing that in addition to "big snow", this is also a "big bucks" neighborhood! ;)
(not that there is anything wrong with that..)

Scot
The bucks theory may be true. I bought an hs624 with very low hours for 500. I t has served me well the last 3 winters. It goes thru anything even the "Tahoe Concrete" as it is called around here.

BTW , how do I know if someone quoted my post? Is there an email alert function or an on site indication somewhere?
 
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