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This One's For Gus

By admin Published: September 24, 2008

Comments on a previous post turned to Zillions, the Consumer Reports magazine for kids, and regular commenter Gus recalled that the Beacon Journal once wrote about his work for Zillions. Found the story he mentioned. After the jump, the text ...

Gus Splittorf is a fussy shopper.
The 15-year-old from North Canton asks a lot of questions before he hands
over his money to sales clerks.
Maybe that's why Zillions, the New York magazine that is a kids' version of Consumer Reports, chose the Hoover High ninth-grader as a consultant.
Gus is one of 100 kids from across the country who review products and give advice to Zillions. His advice often appears in the magazine's stories.
`I like to do it,' Gus said during a recent interview. `I like to see what I've written in print.'
But Gus, who has worked for Zillions for three years, also thinks his
advice keeps kids from getting ripped off.
`I think I help other kids by showing them what is a fraud and what isn't,' Gus explained.
Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of kids who don't know how to tell the difference between good products and bad ones. The companies spend a lot of money on advertisements that make toys look better than they really
are. They also hide the truth about exactly what is in the package you are
buying.
But kids can protect themselves from being disappointed with their
purchases:
+ Watch for sales or shop around to get the best price possible.
+ Read the package carefully. Sometimes small print on the box will tell
you you're not getting everything you think you are.
+ Don't let salespeople pressure you into buying something if you're not
sure. Tell them you'll be back some other time.
Gus gives Zillions his opinion on such things as board and video games, TV programs and different brands of frozen yogurt to help kids weed out the bad
from the good.
And in June, Gus told a National Public Radio audience why it's important
for kids to be smart about what they buy.
His most recent and favorite assignment was to go to three different stores and price a certain kind of Sony Walkman FM/AM cassette player. Some of Gus'
comments are included in The Shop-Around Solution article in Zillions'
December issue.
Gus did more than record the prices of the recorders -- he judged the
service he was given.
Not only was he ignored by sales clerks at two of the stores, but one of
the clerks tried to sell him a more expensive model than the one he wanted.
`People aren't very nice to kids sometimes,' says Gus' mom, Mary Splittorf. But even though Gus has had fun working for Zillions, the magazine soon
will lose its correspondent from North Canton.
`I could probably go on until I'm 20,' Gus says. `But I just feel I'm too old.'
What's next for this intrepid reporter?
`I want to do some TV writing as a summer intern for Mad magazine,' Gus
says.
And then he grins.

-- By Mary Vanac, March 1992

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