Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smaller Cell Phone Carriers Rate Better among Cr Subscribers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smaller Cell Phone Carriers Rate Better among Cr Subscribers

Article excerpt

When it comes to cell phone carriers, smaller may be better, according to a satisfaction survey of Consumer Reports' online subscribers.

At the top of the ratings for standard service providers were Consumer Cellular, a national carrier that uses AT&T's network, and U.S. Cellular, which operates in just over half of the United States. Credo, which offers service to much of the country on Sprint's network, also bested the major carriers. AT&T, America's second-largest carrier, again found itself at the bottom of the ratings.

In this year's annual CR survey on cell phone service providers, more than 66,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers weighed in about their service and customer support experiences with standard service -- billed at month's end -- and prepaid providers.

Of the four major U.S. national cell phone standard service providers, Verizon and Sprint were the better-rated carriers. Verizon had an edge over Sprint in texting and in knowledgeable support staff, but Sprint rated better in value. T-Mobile was below Verizon and Sprint, but it continued to rate significantly better than the higher-priced carrier AT&T.

TracFone was rated one of the better carriers among prepaid cell phone service providers, with Straight Talk, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile. All of the top four prepaid carriers received above-average scores for value. Readers who prepaid for their cell phone service were more satisfied overall than respondents with standard service.

How to cut the cell phone bill

* Don't automatically buy from the company store. Two-thirds of cell phones are bought at carrier stores, but CR has found that prices can be lower at warehouse stores and mass merchandisers, such as Walmart, and electronics stores, such as RadioShack. In fact, a carrier's walk-in stores can be even pricier than the company's own website. …

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