PERKS & BENNIES: Consumer Reports’ Own “Best Buys”

After rating the newest products, employees at Consumer Reports rate an excellent deal on them.

As if having your hands on the latest computers, cars, cameras, and numerous household products isn’t enough, the 600 employees at product-testing authority Consumer Reports in Yonkers are privy to incredible discounts on the very products they review.

“We buy everything that we test here,” says Associate Director of Communications Lauren Hackett. “TVs, cameras, and other electronics are silently auctioned off three to four times a year.” While it’s not a free-for-all—products won’t be sold until after the test results have been published, and there is a minimum bid—employees pay well below market value. “It’s an exciting time around here when the auction happens,” Hackett says. A $350 Kenmore vacuum was recently auctioned for $220. And a $127 bid snatched up a Panasonic digital camera; it sells for $214 retail.

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The bidding is done electronically, with the highest bidder announced after a two-week auction period. But, some things never go to auction, Hackett says. Consumer Reports will hold on to items that represent new or emerging technologies, such as 3-D TVs. “We keep it as a reference sample, and we use things for media appearances.”

Employees have a shot at cars, too. Once the cars’ reviews have been published, prospective buyers can enter a lottery for them. Consumer Reports absorbs the depreciation, and the car is priced accordingly. One lucky employee recently paid $20,000 for a 2010 Ford Fusion originally purchased for $27,439. When asked if she had ever entered a lottery, Hackett answered, “Yes—I have a lovely Honda Civic.”

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