The Consumerist jumps the shark

By | November 19, 2009

I’ve been subscribed to The Consumerist since Continental lost my daughter last summer and The Consumerist picked up the story.  I was impressed by their reach and by the quality of stories that they ran.

Unfortunately, two or three months after I started reading them, the quality seemed to start going down.  There were a lot more stories that seemed frivolous or where it seemed like a big deal was being made out of something that wasn’t.  Furthermore, there were several instances where I sent them tips about stories which were far more relevant than some of the trivialities they were running, and they chose not to run them.

Then they started ending most postings with questions to spur discussion, a transparent tactic for increasing page hits on the site.  That’s all well and good, but when combined with the fact that they also started regularly running promotional blurbs for content published by Consumer Reports, which recently purchased them, it became clear what’s going on.

All of this came to a head for me when they ran an item entitled “AT&T Rep Wants To Die“, which purported to be a transcript of a chat between a customer and AT&T in which the customer at one point commented sardonically, “i’ll just hang myself,” to which the CSR allegedly responded, “Right behind you”.  The Consumerist thought this was funny and posted it with the comment, “Morale is low abord the Deathstar.”

This would, perhaps, have been just a bit of harmless fun if it hadn’t turned out that the customer who forwarded the conversation to The Consumerist actually doctored it.  They ran a correction from an AT&T representative in an article entitled “AT&T Says Their Rep Doesn’t Want To Die“, at the bottom of which they said (emphasis added):

PR guy misses the point. The chat transcript was funny. It doesn’t matter if it was “true,” it spoke the truth.

Um, sorry, Consumerist, but it does “matter if it was true.”  With that comment, my subscription to The Consumerist is at an end.  Thanks, guys, for giving me back a little free time in my life.

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