With so much information out there these days, it’s often difficult to pinpoint how to get the best service or the best price. Lots of ratings sites claim to have honest information, but with sponsored ads, it’s hard to tell whether the reviews are really what they should be. Consumers’ Checkbook offers advice to help people save money, time and hassle, all ad-free on a variety of local services. RewardExpert spoke with Executive Editor, Kevin Brasler, about how Consumers’ Checkbook puts consumers first, and provides accurate, fair assessments on lots of industries from personal finance to travel to healthcare and more.
How it All Began
Consumers’ Checkbook was the brainchild of Robert Krughoff. He started the organization nearly 40 years ago after he kept bringing his car back to a repair shop multiple times to have the same repair done. “Krughoff was aggravated and believed there should be a way to find the best services that would do the best job,” said Brasler. “He thought there really should be a Consumer Reports for local services.” Consumers’ Checkbook was born in Washington, DC and has been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices. “We are pro consumer, we’re founded by consumers and we’re here for consumers,” stated Brasler.
Evaluating the Quality of Prices and Services
The focus of Checkbook is to provide unbiased ratings. Brasler said Consumer Reports does a great job of evaluating products, and Checkbook helps consumers find the right places to buy the products. “If you’re looking to buy a major appliance, for example, Consumer Reports can really help you decide which appliance to buy, and then Checkbook can help you figure out which business offers low prices and ask good advice, get the item delivered and installed right.”
Consumers’ Checkbook has been a pioneer in helping consumers save money and make better decisions. “It has truly changed the landscape of what people expect in the marketplace,” replied Brasler. “We have our own staff of undercover shoppers who are continually out there collecting price information from companies.” He said that one thing the organization found over the years is that most consumers don’t know much about price. “They don’t know whether they’ve paid a high price or a low price for a service because they just they don’t shop around.”
Consumers’ Checkbook Subscriptions
With their unbiased ratings, someone can’t just come onto https://www.checkbook.org/ and fill out a survey. “We don’t allow that. You have to be a member and pay membership costs – you have to subscribe,” explained Brasler. “The only way we make money is for people to subscribe. Or we have to invite you to do the survey. So it’s not just this open process that a lot of other websites have.”
A one year subscription costs $28, two years is $34 and three years is $54. With that small fee comes ratings, reviews, price research and expert advice on local businesses – all at your fingertips. The fees “support our mission and our work,” said Brasler. “We don’t have any advertisers on our site. We don’t take referral fees. And all our advice is free.” There are also tons of free articles available on the site that provide countless amounts of information and what to look out for when shopping around.
Significant Savings for Consumers
As the Consumers’ Checkbook site states, “Many websites promise to provide reliable ratings, but only one puts consumers first.” The organization prides itself on being committed to providing accurate information and fighting for the rights of the consumer.
One of Checkbook’s services is CarBargains, which has helped more than 15,000 customers get the best deals on new cars for over 25 years. It has helped consumers save hundreds or even thousands of dollars while bypassing the hassles of traditional car shopping. “Unlike all these other websites that promise to get you great prices on cars, we don’t take any money from the dealers. We’re paid a fee to do the work that covers our costs only to go out and get bids for people. And we guarantee it’s the best way,” said Brasler.
Even when when Krughoff started Checkbook, a big focus was evaluating physicians and hospitals and dentists and others for the quality of care they provide. “And not just the quality of care in terms of collecting ratings from patients, but trying to do analysis of outcomes,” said Brasler. He further went on to explain that it was really a pioneering effort. “That was at a time when it was unheard of to report these things for doctors. It was unheard of to report patient ratings. It was unheard of to report on deaths and outcomes for hospitals. They just kept believing people might actually decide to go to different hospital based on that.”
Consumers’ Checkbook also writes articles about services that are not needed. “We just put something on about travel insurance and why these cancellation plans sold by airlines are just useless,” stated Brasler.
A Bright Future for Consumers
Before Consumers’ Checkbook, there was really nothing that existed that showcased unbiased information on local services that really worked for the customer and not the company.
“I don’t think you can trust most of the other ratings you see these days about service companies, especially. I think that they’re easily manipulated,” said Brasler. “And I think the companies that offer these ratings have a vested interest in making those companies look good as opposed to having honest ratings for consumers. We can afford to be honest.” The organization is committed to helping people save time, money and hassle for another 40+ years. “We are also working on another release of our surgeon ratings website, which is 100 percent free.”
In addition to a printed copy of Consumers’ Checkbook in Washington, DC, it also has magazines in other regions, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and the Seattle metro area. It is published by the Center for the Study of Services, an independent, nonprofit consumer organization. For more information and to see how you can use Checkbook today to save money, visit https://www.checkbook.org/.