by Jane Anderson
Well it sounds high and mighty. But. And it's a big "BUT".
In recent weeks I've had an interesting exchange with Choice Magazine. It started when I decided to subscribe to their magazine to get some so objective information about consumer goods. After all, they've got a pretty good reputation. Well a brand name like "Choice Magazine" can only take you so far.
I searched through their online archives and found myself reviewing their article on pet foods.
Rather than having an objective report, they had failed to adequately investigate, but simply regurgitated information provided by pet food companies, with very little true analysis of information. Their information on raw diets was simply incorrect. In addition, they had sort information from organizations such as the Australian Veterinary Association, who has as it's primary sponsor a pet food company.
Although being established since 1959, it appears Choice Magazine, is somewhat unclear about the concept of "conflict of interest", and certainly did not disclose such information in their report. I wrote a polite note to Choice Magazine, who said they would investigate. This looked promising. Lizzie Ball sent me an email which said basically they they wouldn't be doing any more research so we'd just have to agree to disagree.
hmmmm... this raised an issue - why would Choice Magazine, a so called provider of independent information, not follow up when problems were raised?
So I wrote back to them for more information.
Unfortunately Barbara Manchester (Quality and IT General Manager of Choice Magazine) then made the mistake of sending me an email which they should have sent internally, where, paraphrasing, they she writes "...thank her for her interest. I don't want to spend any more time on it."
An apology by Barbara after I raised this with her, but it was now clear.
It appears that rather than being an organization that provides "full testing" of products in the marketplace, they are more like an organization that writes what they need to with the time constraints they have, without asking the hard questions.
From there I pursued this with a website known as "Not Good Enough". "Not Good Enough" have an interesting concept. They provide a place for consumers to complain about poor products. Companies who provide those products or services can then respond or not to see if they will fix the problem. Luckily, Not Good Enough also offers itself as a consulting company who, for a price, can then help those companies better respond to their customers. Whew!
"Not Good Enough" and "Choice Magazine" provide each other's websites with reciprocal links - I guess to show like sites of protecting consumers.
So I knew it would be an interesting experience to raise the issue on "Not Good Enough". Well within 48 hours "Not Good Enough" shut down the message board on the subject. They were more than happy to help consumers who hadn't received free products from a pet food company, but if you questioned the quality of the product itself and the damage the pet food does to animals, well that's clearly too complex a subject for "Not Good Enough" to deal with. Neither did they want to deal with the subject of "Choice Magazine" not providing their promised independent advice.
So is it a conspiracy, or just general slackness and laziness. We think the latter. We think so called "Consumer Associations" would much rather tackle the tough subjects of which coffee machine is better, or why did KFC forget to put the chips in the order! In fact, they flog those subjects and related ones to death. Oh, and if you are a bank, you are an easy and worthy target.
However, if you have a subject as controversial as dog food and the nasty manufacturers who lie about their products, with products that comprehensively cause ill health in our pets, then, for some reason, Choice Magazine, and Not Good Enough, don't want to cover it.
Is it too complex? Well not really.
Where to from here, well here's some contact points:
You might want to email Barbara Manchester directly, or perhaps even the Chief Executive Officer of Choice, Peter Kell who might be able to shed some light on why they don't really want to deal with such issues.
In all fairness, I think it's important to say that after reading several other reports by Choice Magazine, the one they did on Pet Foods is not the only one where they have failed to adequately research the subject. Of course, that's just my opinion. You'll need to make up your own mind. And yes, of course, I have cancelled my subscription, although it took over 5 emails and a phone call before that was completed.
To learn more about improving dog behaviour and how to be the leader of your pack using completely non aggressive methods, click here.
This page last updated 22nd July, 2004