Big surprise: Area telecom providers earn poor grades in new report

You probably already knew this, but here in the Bay Area, your choice of triple play providers is generally between mediocre and worse.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Consumer Reports. In its upcoming May issue, the venerable magazine ranks 14 of the nation’s telecommunications providers based on survey responses from nearly 82,000 readers.

Of the local providers, AT&T’s U-verse service got the highest grade. But its score of 65 out of 100 was nothing to write home about. Survey respondents ranked it average for customer support, its billing policies and practices and their overall satisfaction with the service. They ranked it below average for value.

The other local options rated significantly worse. Comcast’s Xfinity service, for example, earned a score of 59. Readers gave it an average rating for customer service, a below average rating for its billing practices and their overall satisfaction with its service and gave it the lowest possible rating for value.

AT&T and Verizon’s hybrid services, which combine those two companies phone and Internet service with television service from satellite providers Dish Network or DirecTV, also fared poorly, earning ratings of 58 and 59, respectively. Both earned far below average ratings for their value and for their customer support.

In the report, Consumer Reports noted that the average price of expanded basic cable service has far outpaced inflation over the last 15 years, likely fueling consumer discontent. The difference in what consumers have spent on that service over the last 15 years compared to what they would have spent if it had only risen at the same rate as inflation is $1,760, the magazine said.

Photo courtesy of AT&T.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (255 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.