The student debt crisis, by the numbers

Across America, 42 million people owe a total of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. That’s a little more more than Mexico’s total GDP.

Our latest investigation explains how we got into this mess, who’s getting rich, and how debt is altering people’s lives. 

The numbers, courtesy of a recent Consumer Reports survey, might surprise you:

Pundits opposed to the new health care law and some media outlets have tried to suggest that our coverage of the troubled site means that Consumer Reports has turned against the Affordable Care Act.

Not true. Consistent with our mission to inform and protect consumers, particularly in this complicated health care market, our advice remains the same: The best place to buy coverage on your own is through the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. That guarantees you will get comprehensive coverage, and it’s the only way you can lower the cost of your premiums and possibly even your deductibles and copayments.

Doing that online in most states means registering at and shopping through the federal

—  Consumer Reports sets Sean Hannity straight after he misconstrued Consumer Reports’ position to claim that health care reform had been discredited. 
How my day turned itself around:

After trying to resolve the issue related to my A/C being broken and the warranty that should have been in effect until 2020, I was told that there was nothing that could be done by Maytag or the company that owns Maytag, Nordyne.   Considering the repair was going to put me out about $2,000  – I decided that it was worth another shot.  I wrote an e-mail last night to some Nordyne higher ups explaining my situation (first time homeowner, single income, teacher in Title I area) and the problem with my a/c and the warranty.   Due to the heat in Florida, (current temp is 94 degrees, but weather report says it “feels like” over 100 degrees) I had to move forward with the repair.

Today I received a lovely call from Bob Marx at Nordyne who was able to arrange for the replacement part be provided.  I still have to pay for the install that was done, but as I read the warranty, I would have been responsible for that anyways.  I haven’t gotten the final bill, but by my estimate it should cut it in half.

I am happy to see people do the right thing and to see this company stand behind their product.

Once I get the final bill, I assure you, I will find small ways to pay it forward.
'Consumer Reports' Satisfied that iPhone 4S Fixes Antenna Issues

Phew! Thank god. Clearly their reports last year really hurt iPhone 4 sales and destroyed Apple’s business. 

Consumer Reports is very important and influential, you see. There’s no actual data to back this up. And they sure seem like more of a link bait farm. But you must respect their authoritah!

Seriously, all the Consumer Reports iPhone hoopla did last year was prove that no one actually gives a shit about Consumer Reports anymore. 

Humorously, they still put the iPhone 4S behind a bunch of shitty Android phones. Like one of those 3D bullshit ones

STUDY: More people than ever use apps!

STUDY: Smartphone users rely on GPS and map functions so they won’t get lost.

STUDY: Small but growing number of people use their tablets as coasters for cold drinks.

STUDY: Men consume a whole lot of porn.

STUDY: More people than ever use emoticons in text messages.

STUDY: Consumers compare prices online while shopping at big box retail stores.

STUDY: Majority of Americans can’t find Mali on a map.

STUDY: Tech blogs and newspapers always happy to publish results of inane studies.

—  Adam Penenberg offers alternatives to a recent and unnecessary study which finds that people like to play on their phones while watching TV.
Baby Boomers Do You Know Your Local Independent Pharmacy?

Many people don’t know that independent community pharmacies are still around. Yet, such independents are still collectively a major force in the pharmacy industry.

Baby boomers often find that they have special needs that may not be addressed by the larger chains or big box pharmacies.Consumer Reports says that 94% of shoppers are “highly satisfied” with independents.

If you have special needs, you may want to know about the options provided by this group of small business owners.


Shallie Bey
Smarter Small Business Blog

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Reliability Matters

The recently published Consumer Reports’ 2011 Annual Car Reliability Survey has triggered some bad press for Ford Motor Co, despite the fact many of the issues cited were already on the manufacturer’s radar prior to survey publication. So what’s the upshot of Ford’s fall from grace? A chance for other US brands to share the spotlight. What’s the drawback? It exposes potential timing hiccups between collecting survey results in spring and publishing them in autumn.

Jeep is now considered to be the most reliable domestic brand after moving up seven spots to rank 13th in the survey. Chrysler climbed 12 spots to rank 15th, but their position is based on input for just two models. Why only two models? An inadequate number of samples (<100) for each respective model skews reliability results, and survey timing might not coincide with the new or updated model release calendar.

So why does this survey carry so much weight and where does the information come from? Consumer Reports issues a questionnaire to its online subscribers each spring, asking them to identify serious problems across 17 “trouble areas” that have occurred within the past 12 months. With feedback on 1.3 million vehicles in 2011, Consumer Reports requires a minimum sample of 100 vehicles per model (some with several thousand!) to ensure statistical accuracy. Results are compiled over the summer for survey publication in late October. 

Trouble spots referenced in the report span the electrical and climate systems to brakes, power accessories, and of course, the engine and transmission. Subscribers of the survey are also asked to comment on problems covered by warranty, but not basic maintenance items such as brake pads.

In essence, Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge are excelling in reliability as American brands, because of fewer problems reported among the 100+ vehicle samples of models like the Grand Cherokee, 200, and Durango. What readers need to remember is that the reliability ratings aren’t coming from the companies themselves; drivers of these marques are providing concrete information on the performance of their very own cars. Future buyers can find comfort in the fact that their fellow consumers are imparting unbiased information to allow for more informed purchasing decisions. After all, automobiles are a high ticket item on which individuals and their families rely daily, so the results should be just as reliable.