Thursday, December 20, 2007

Consumer Reports Rates Cell Service

The cover report in the January 2008 issue of Consumer Reports magazine is on cellular phone service. While some people do not agree with Consumer Reports' ratings, I find them useful (not that I'm a huge consumer) and subscribe online. I think it's worth it. (My parents used to subscribe to the magazine.) A bit about Consumer Reports, from the website:

Consumer Reports® and® are published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants. Consumers Union is governed by a board of 18 directors, who are elected by CU members and meet three times a year. CU's President, James Guest, oversees a staff of more than 450.

In other words, they buy everything they test and do not accept advertising. Now for the dirt. The ratings are based on a survey of 47,000 CR readers in 20 urban markets ranging from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. In all the markets except Minneapolis/St. Paul, Sprint was rated last. (AT&T was rated last in the Minneapolis market.) In all the markets except Dallas and Minneapolis, AT&T was rated second-last. (In Dallas it was T-Mobile and in Minneapolis it was Sprint.) In 16 markets, Verizon was rated No. 1. In Cleveland, Phoenix and Tampa, Alltel was rated No. 1. In Minneapolis, T-Mobile was rated No. 1. The ratings for Miami, for example, are: (1) Verizon, (2) T-Mobile, (3) AT&T, and (4) yes, Sprint, which is what we have (I guess I didn't do my research--in case CR treated it at the time). (Same results for most other markets.) Consumer Reports says of Sprint:

Missing from the [Quick Picks] is Sprint, whose satisfaction record makes it worth considering only if you especially value special offerings such as its walkie-talkie "push to talk" service, which is now available through Verizon as well.

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