Can You Hear Us Now? Good.
Consumer’s Union (the organization behind Consumer Reports) has a new site up now called Hear Us Now which is the “Consumer Voice for Communications Choice”. This is fine, if they take the time to filter out the stupid people from the people who have genuine complaints. Like the complaint from Carol:
My husband’s cell phone which we have owned for thirteen months no longer works. I went to Cingular and since they no longer have a repair service, I have to get a new phone. In order to get a decent price on a new phone you have to commit to signing up for another year. If you don’t sign an annual contract you have to spend more then $200 for a new phone.
You cannot upgrade unless you sign up for another year. Why would we want to sign up for another year if we can’t get good service?
You should be able to buy a decent cell phone at any store, no matter what brand, and it should be compatible with whatever service you have. Wireless providers should not have the market on cell phones.
So, from this rant I can conclude: * She wants the phone company to subsidize the actual cost of the phone ($200) for you, without a guaranteed revenue stream from her * She want all of the various phone types to be able to magically talk with each other (though the five or so different “standards” that are used by the various companies)
Wireless providers have the market for cell phones (I think) because it is unlikely that any independent company could convince people to come and order a phone and pay the list price, especially given the difficulty in determining if the phone will even work with the wireless provider that you chose to network through.
Perhaps Carol should have read the excellent piece on Before and After Buying a Cell Phone offered at the Hear Us Now site. Then maybe she wouldn’t be helping the phone companies continue their “bad practices”. This particular article (out of about 30 or so in the wireless category) should give any company that is challenging the collected data most of the ammunition they need to refute the charges: how can we be responsible when the consumers are just this dumb to start out with? (If you look, you can also find the story by the person complaining about the cost of a long distance carrier…because they can get cheaper service from Vonage.)