Can You Grade Me Now?
You know how wireless carriers love to tout the quality of their calling services in TV commercials, citing expert reports?
Consumer Reports, the magazine put out by Consumers Union, released its annual cell-phone service report yesterday, and there wasn't much for some carriers to crow about.
Sprint and Cingular fared poorly in most of the 20 cities where 43,000 people were surveyed. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile did better, except in cities where regional carrier Alltel got the top spot.
But before any carrier gets too excited over the results, let's note that overall the carriers scored 66 percent in customer satisfaction. It's been a while since I've gotten an actual grade, but if I'm remembering correctly, 66 percent lands you in C or D territory--- not exactly honor-roll material. Consumer Reports phrased it another way: "Cell service remains one of the lowest rated services that Consumer Reports tracks....[It is] among the ranks of cable TV and computer tech support."
Of the people who switched phone services in the last three years, 54 percent did so to flee poor service. When you consider all the discounts and marketing that cell phone companies do to get your attention, losing customers at a high rate is a huge cost for wireless companies.
In a separate survey, Consumer Reports noted that calling 9-1-1 isn't a sure thing from any type of phone: 5 percent of callers never successfully connected or communicated with 911 from their land line, compared to 12 percent who were using Internet phones and 16 percent placing the call from cell phones. (In the survey, 29 percent of cell-phone buyers said they bought the phone for emergencies.)
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