According to Consumer Reports (June 2010), a survey of almost 11,000 of their online subscribers conducted last year by the Consumer Reports National Research Center showed that those who bought a phone at some retailers unaffiliated with a carrier were at least as satisfied on average as those who bought from the carrier itself. And those who bought online at the carrier’s Web site were generally at least as satisfied as those who bought at one of its stores.
Respondents gave the top-rated Apple Store especially high marks for activation and checkout, “though that store sells only the Apple iPhone,” CR notes. Best Buy, the huge national electronics retailer, received top marks for phone selection and above-average scores for price and customer service. Costco and Walmart stood out for price. Costco was also praised for customer service. Satisfaction with buying from carriers tracked with what Consumer Reports online subscribers have told us in annual surveys about service from carriers. VerizonWireless.com was a standout.
In their report, CR suggests buying your cellphone with service, since service costs the same with or without the phone discount—even though carriers dedicate a portion of each monthly bill to paying the cost of the phone.
Overall satisfaction with buying a cellphone was a bit lower than the levels Consumer Reports’ surveys have found for buying other major electronic devices. Leading complaints were long waits for help, confusing pricing, and a limited selection of phones.
A link to the the full report (available to subscribers only) can be found here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Quincy D.” for the heads up.]