I want to be a wise and careful consumer, but the pointless online reviews are confusing me | Adrien chilis

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For for environmental reasons, I want to be a better consumer. And also because I’m sick of buying shit. Buy less, buy better. But it’s a lot easier said than done. In order to be the wise, informed consumer that I want to be, I need reliable information about the quality of what I intend to buy. While there are many recommendations available online, my strongest suspicion is that almost none can be considered reliable.

I need new walking shoes, and a well-known search engine instantly provides me with a long list of websites that have relatively short lists of the best walking shoes. Words like “trust” and “examine” and “test” are very common on these sites. Even on the most reputable, you’ll have to look closely for the fine print, like, “We’re making money by putting these walking shoes on our list of the best walking shoes, especially if you click on the retailer that we linked to. “

It wouldn’t matter if proper testing was done in the first place, but now I realize how gullible I was for ever having believed it was likely. After all, the time and money required to perform any meaningful test must be enormous. At the very least, I guess you should pick, say, 25 different pairs of boots and fit them correctly to 25 pairs of feet belonging to 25 similarly sized individuals who would then have to walk a similar distance on similar ground under similar conditions. . over a similar period of time. It just won’t happen.

So what are you doing? I called Martin Lewis, aka the Money Saving Expert, to see if I was missing anything. Turns out I wasn’t. “Objective reviews of the quality of anything are very hard to come by; that’s why I tend to focus on the price first. His advice is to ignore most things that appear at the top of a Google search. “The best you can say, maybe, is that there won’t be any absolute herring out there, but you better go to a specialist source like a magazine. Okay, they will accept the ad I’m sure, but there’s a good chance you’ll get more honest reviews. Other than that, just keep your fingers crossed.

I thought the internet was supposed to empower consumers, but all the power seems to lie with whoever sells the product to us. Yes, the web can get us the best price, but the best buy is another matter. And it’s not like we consumers can do a lot to help each other. The same well-known ‘specialist’ retailer has now sold me two consecutive pairs of their branded walking shoes, which were, I was assured, expensive but waterproof and durable. They turned out to be just one of those three things. How can I alert the world to this parody? There is no forum that can be trusted as such a forum would, of course, soon be corrupted itself. And I don’t dare to pronounce the brand name here either for fear of legal consequences. I also don’t want free pairs in compensation because I’m sick of throwing three-month-old broken shoes into the landfill.

Nowhere can I find advice entirely devoid of commercial interests. I can pretty much live with it if anything approaching rigorous testing has been done. Who? magazine falls into that category, and we are probably to be thankful that the organization exists but, my word, its moth is close to flame with offers like Best AO.com Black Friday deals for 2021. At least we can be sure that tests have been carried out on the selected products. And, there you go, it did something about walking shoes, so maybe I can be on a good basis after all.

Adrian Chiles is a writer, host and columnist for The Guardian


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