Small companies get top ratings in cellphone service survey

Consumer Cellular, Republic, Ting get high marks in Consumer Reports poll

SAN ANTONIO – We love our cellphones, but we're not wild about the service. In fact, cellphone service gets lower scores than most of the services Consumer Reports rates.

Consumer Reports released its latest ratings of cellphone companies, based on a survey of 63,000 of its subscribers in 26 cities.

The vast majority of people get their cellphone service from one of the four major wireless providers. But in Consumer Reports' latest ratings, a new service called Ting scored much higher. 

Ting customers like Victor Torres are billed for actual voice, text and data usage rather than being charged a flat rate. It can add up to big savings.

"Our average bill was somewhere between $120 and $160 a month. And now through Ting we have months that are usually in the $65 range," Torres said. 

Ting uses the Sprint network and is only compatible with Sprint phones and tablets. Right now, that includes the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3.

"Even though Ting uses Sprint's network, people are much happier overall with the service they get from Ting," said Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports.

Two other smaller providers are also top-rated in the Consumer Reports survey. Consumer Cellular scored better than all the big providers, while Republic Wireless rated the highest for prepaid service. 

"Ting, Consumer Cellular and Republic were the only carriers in our survey to receive our highest marks for value for the money," Tordesillas said.

The lowest ratings for value among contract plans went to AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. 

Sprint also did worse in Consumer Reports' survey for phone support, and the lack of knowledge and ability to resolve issues. 

In response to Consumer Reports' survey, Sprint said the results are disappointing and it is committed to offering customers the best value in wireless. Verizon said it will continue to work to demonstrate value by providing excellent customer experiences. AT&T said customer satisfaction is the reason fewer people are switching away from AT&T.

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