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  (Source: AT&T)
Touts Better Business Bureau "A" rating

Yesterday, Consumer Reports released the results of a wireless carrier customer satisfaction survey that was not too favorable for AT&T. In fact, the nation's second-largest carrier ranked dead last, and was the only carrier to drop significantly in score.

Today, AT&T is on the offensive, countering the CR survey with a press release touting the carrier's "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau.

According to AT&T, the company has logged the fewest number of complaints and has the lowest complaint rate with the BBB out of the four major wireless carriers. AT&T has even put together another color-coded graph, similar to the one provided in its "fastest-network" claim, which charts the results without calling out any of the other carriers by name.

AT&T says that wireless customers log more complaints with the various BBB's each year than any other entity, including the Federal Communications Commission. Thus, the argument goes, having a complaint rate that is 34% lower than the nearest competitor (Verizon) means that AT&T's services are better. 

When doling out scores, the BBB evaluates companies based on 17 categories which include accreditation (which AT&T has and pays for), how the company responds to consumer concerns, complaint history, and "the truthfulness of its advertising claims."






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RE: Consumer Reports
By Solandri on 12/8/2010 1:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
(Disclaimer: I subscribe to Consumer Reports.)

Consumer Reports satisfaction ratings are based on voluntary subscriber feedback, so it does suffer from self-selection bias. e.g. People who have had problems are more likely to submit a negative survey. Likewise, people who buy a more expensive item may feel they're getting a better product, and thus bias their survey higher.

So it's tough, often impossible, to read much into the magnitude of differences in survey results between companies. But the order in which the different companies place is usually pretty reliable. The year-to-year movement of a single company up or down between annual surveys is usually very reliable, since those only compare a company against itself.

There's also the self-selection of people who subscribe to CR. For whatever reason, people who subscribe to it tend to like Asian import cars more than domestic or European cars. So CR's satisfaction surveys for cars tend to be biased towards Asian imports.

Their product ratings (not satisfaction ratings) are based on their own product reviews, so do not suffer from this bias. I should also note that they do not get samples from manufacturers like most reviewers; they go to a store and buy the product off the shelf just like you or me (yes, this includes cars). So if there's a large deviation between their reviews and other reviews for a product, my first suspicion would be that the manufacturer is providing spiked or enhanced versions of their product to reviewers.

Their product review methodology is sometimes questionable, but what I've noticed is that they tend to design their reviews from the viewpoint of what an average consumer would look for. If you're an enthusiast in that product market, they're not going to look at a lot of the little details you consider important. Most of the stuff I buy I don't really care about as long as it works well and doesn't cost much; and CR is great for this. The stuff I do care about like computers or cars, I'm intelligent enough to find direct reviews online and compare spec sheets on my own.


RE: Consumer Reports
By LeftFootRed on 12/8/2010 3:18:21 PM , Rating: 2
Mostly agreed, except my personal bias against domestic autos came from hard experience. It's no mystery to me why they've done poorly in CR in the past. Not to say things haven't improved substantially on the quality front of late. I'm almost ready to give Ford a chance again, after that POS Taurus put me through hell.


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